11 Tips For Traveling With Pets In The USA

Traveling with pets is a wonderful experience. But it isn’t a low-effort experience. In fact, very often, we have to make accommodations for our pets both before we leave and during our trips, and it can be hard to remember everything that will make life easier for our pets on the road.

A dog resting it's head on it's owner's arm.
Photo Credit: Crooked Rook Photography.

Nicole Savageau, a distinguished veterinarian with the national in-home service, The Vets, has 11 tips to share to make traveling with our pets easier. Nicole has years of experience in pet care and a passion for ensuring the well-being of animals during travel.

11 Tips For Traveling With Pets In The US

  1. Health certificates: Check with your state and destination state/country for required health documents. The USDA APHIS website is a valuable resource for travel requirements.
  2. Microchip: Ensure your pet has an up-to-date microchip, and double-check that your contact information is correct and linked to the chip. Research the policies and vaccination requirements of the area you’re visiting.
  3. Vaccines: Keep your pet up-to-date on core vaccinations and consider others like Leptospirosis, Lyme, CIV, and Rattlesnake Venom, depending on your location.
  4. Consistent preventatives: Protect your pet from internal and external parasites by maintaining their regular preventative care, such as flea, tick, and heartworm meds.
  5. Carry all pet records: Have all necessary documents readily available, including vaccination records and medical history. Keep them in a folder so everything stays together.
  6. Research emergency hospitals: Locate the emergency animal hospital nearest to where you will be staying and keep their number handy.
  7. Weather preparation: Pack enough food, water, and supplies for both you and your pet. Consider cooling pads or fans for hot weather activities, and create an emergency kit with essentials like a first aid bag, water, and snacks.
  8. GPS tracking: If you plan on hiking or venturing into remote areas, consider investing in a GPS tracker for your pet.
  9. Conditioning for car rides: Gradually acclimate your pet to car rides, and consult with your veterinarian about calming aids or anti-nausea medication if needed.
  10. Chronic health conditions: Discuss any existing health issues with your veterinarian to determine if your pet is fit for travel. They can offer guidance on potential risks, precautions, and monitoring needs during the trip.
  11. Vet visit: Before embarking on your journey, consider scheduling a visit with your vet to ensure your pet is healthy enough for travel and receive advice on travel-related health concerns. This can provide peace of mind and help identify any potential issues early on.

These are all great tips from Nicole!

Checklist for Traveling With Pets within the USA:

If you’re anything like me, it helps to have a checklist that is broken down into categories that you can print and keep handy. Here is the checklist I use when traveling with my dog, Izzy.

While it repeats some of the information above, it breaks things down into tasks to do before, during, and after your trip to ensure your pet has a safe and happy journey. The link to download the list for printing is here.

Before the Trip:

: Check with both your state and destination state for any required health documents for your pet. Visit the USDA APHIS website for travel requirements.

: Ensure your pet has an up-to-date microchip, and verify that your contact information is correct and linked to the chip. Research the policies and vaccination requirements of the area you’re visiting.

: Keep your pet up-to-date on core vaccinations and consider additional ones like Leptospirosis, Lyme, CIV, and Rattlesnake Venom, depending on your location.

: Maintain your pet’s regular preventative care against internal and external parasites, such as flea, tick, and heartworm medications.

: Have all necessary documents readily available, including vaccination records and medical history. Keep them in a folder so everything stays together.

: Locate the emergency animal hospital nearest to where you will be staying and keep their number handy.

: Pack enough food, water, and supplies for both you and your pet. Consider items like cooling pads or fans for hot weather activities, and create an emergency kit with essentials like a first aid bag, water, and snacks.

: If you plan on hiking or venturing into remote areas, consider investing in a GPS tracker for your pet’s safety.

During the Trip:

: Gradually acclimate your pet to car rides before the trip. Consult with your veterinarian about calming aids or anti-nausea medication if needed.

: Keep an eye on your pet’s behavior and health during the journey. Be prepared to make stops for bathroom breaks, exercise, and hydration.

: Ensure your pet’s comfort during travel by providing familiar bedding, toys, and comforting items.

After the Trip:

Monitor At-Home Adjustments: Pets, especially those with health conditions, can be exhausted after a trip. Make sure you give them time to recoup and get back into their old routines. Traveling can be stressful for a pet, and they may show their displeasure by having unexpected accidents or a change in eating patterns. Be patient and let them get back into their old routine over the course of a week or two.

: Consider scheduling a visit with a vet after your trip to ensure your pet’s health and address any travel-related health concerns. This can provide peace of mind and early identification of any potential issues.

Bon Voyage!

I hope this checklist for traveling with pets is helpful. Please be sure to check with your vet to make sure that any needs specific to your own pet are met. This list is not all-inclusive. Every pet will have different needs.

Enjoy your trip!

Further Reading