Say Goodbye to Unsafe Pet Travel

ASPCA Offers Pet Travel Tips for Vacation Season
May 24, 2010

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today reminded pet parents and animal lovers to take the necessary precautions to ensure their pet’s traveling experience, whether by airplane or automobile, is pleasant and secure this vacation season.

“For many pet parents, a trip’s not enjoyable if the four-legged members of the family aren’t invited,” said Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, Executive Vice President of ASPCA Programs and Science Advisor. “But traveling can be highly stressful, both for you and your animal companions. With thoughtful preparation, you can ensure a safe and comfortable trip for everyone.”

As you start to make your travel plans, take the time to prepare your pet for the trip. Start with a visit to your veterinarian to ensure that your pet is up-to-date on all vaccinations, and that you have any medications you might need such as flea/tick prevention and heart-worm medication. Obtain a health certificate from your veterinarian dated within 10 days of your departure for air travel and ask your veterinarian about any particular parasites or health risks that might be associated with your planned destination.

The ASPCA also recommends these tips for animal lovers traveling with their furry companions this summer:

For safe and smooth air travel with your pet:

  • Your pet should always wear a collar and identification tag that clearly states an address or cell phone number where you can be reached. Additionally, you should clearly display a current photograph on your pet’s carrier and write the name, address, and telephone number of the person receiving the animal at your destination.
  • Purchase a USDA-approved shipping crate—it should be large enough for your pet to comfortably stand, sit and turn around in. These crates can be purchased from many pet supply stores as well as individual airlines. Also, write “Live Animal” in large letters on at least two sides of the crate, and use arrows to prominently indicate the upright position of the crate. Make sure that the door is securely closed, but not locked, so that airline personnel can open it in case of an emergency.
  • Decrease your pet’s chances of being left on a tarmac or outside during extreme weather conditions by booking a direct flight whenever possible. Tell every airline employee you encounter, on the ground and in the air that you are traveling with a pet in the cargo hold. This way, they will be ready if any additional considerations or attention is needed.

For safe and smooth car travel with your pet:

  • Keep your pets safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. Again, make sure it is large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. If your dog will be riding on the seat, outfit him with a harness and safety belt to keep him secure in case of sudden stops or changes in direction. Don't allow your pet to ride with his head outside the window. He could be injured by flying objects. Cats should always be in a carrier.
  • Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle! On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace in no time, and heatstroke can develop. In cold weather, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death. Bring along plenty of your own bottled water or tap water from home stored in plastic jugs. Drinking water they are not used to could result in stomach upset for your pets.
  • Bring along your pet’s rabies vaccination records, as some states require this proof at interstate crossings. It is always wise to make sure your pet has an ID collar with your home address, as well as a temporary travel tag with your cell phone, destination phone number, and any other relevant contact information.

In addition to the above tips, the ASPCA offers many safe travel products for pets at its online store, including car safety seats and harnesses, anti-spill travel bowls, first aid kits and car travel ID tags, among others.

“The increase in products specifically geared for pet travel and safety has made the experience that much easier for pet parents,” said Dr. Zawistowski. “It’s all the more reason families should take precautions to ensure that their pet’s travel is trouble-free.”

For more information on how to keep your pets safe this summer and ASPCA travel product information, please visit