Whether you’re traveling around the corner to visit a friend or across the globe for a big move, there are many different components to consider if you plan to bring your pet with you. Transportation type, pet stress levels, international requirements and timeline for travel are all important to consider when putting together your schedule. Fortunately, the team at Sage can help make traveling with your pet as simple as possible.
General Travel Tips
The most crucial element of pet travel is preparation. Having the below items on hand will help ensure your trip starts off on the right foot.
- Carrier: make sure to have an appropriately sized carrier for your pet that will securely remain closed. When flying, be sure your carrier meets the size requirements of your airline. For in cabin pets, a soft sided breathable carrier is key. If your pet is prone to accidents during travel, we recommend placing pee pads in the bottom of the carrier (often multiple) so that you can easily remove them if they become soiled.
- Harness/ Collar: Ensure your pet has a properly fitted harness or collar with an identification tag attached. You may be required to take your pet out of their carrier/ bag when going through security. Even docile animals may be overstimulated by a busy airport or rest station which can result in bolting or running away if not properly secured. If you are afraid of your pet bolting, you may request private screening with the TSA.
- Microchip: Though it is not typically required for domestic travel, microchipping provides an extra level of identification should you become separated from your pet.
- Vaccine certificate: There is no one-size-fits-all standard requirement for travel documents, but it is recommended to research the requirements of your hotel/residence and travel method to ensure you have the proper information before you leave. Most airlines will require proof of valid rabies vaccination.
- Health Certificate: While this may not be required, it can be helpful to have on hand should the situation arise. We are happy to prepare this documentation for you before your trip. These certificates are generally valid for 30 days. You will likely need a different certificate for each destination.
- Medication: Make sure to have an adequate supply of any and all medications your pet regularly requires.
While we do our best to accommodate emergency travel situations, we advise scheduling any required vaccinations or exams well in advance of your scheduled travel. We cannot provide health certificates on pets we have not examined within the required timeframe.
Please discuss all chronic and acute illness with the team before traveling. Certain destinations may be of high risk for patients with preexisting conditions and plane travel may not be advised. Pets who are acutely ill should seek medical care prior to any form of travel to avoid an emergency situation.
Emotional Support Animals are subject to the same requirements for travel.
Please note that different airlines have different size limits for pets to travel in the cabin. You should check with your airline prior to each trip to ensure they have not changed.
Travel can be stressful for many pets, as is the case with many humans! Fortunately, there are many different methods to help your pet throughout their journey
- Comfort: Make sure your pet is comfortable in their carrier. It is essential to train them to use the carrier even if you do not intend to travel regularly. Allowing them to sleep in their carrier or having it out in their living space can help to decrease the anxiety that is associated with seeing a carrier, especially if it only comes out before stress-inducing events. Products like Feliway (meant for our feline friends) can be sprayed inside the carrier to help reduce stress as well
- Calming Supplements: These over-the-counter products work to reduce stress and are safe to use in almost any dog or cat. They are readily available and can make a visible impact for pets who have mild or moderate travel related anxiety. Most include ingredients like L- Theanine. Some products we recommend include:
- Feliway (for cats)
- Anxitane by Virbac
- CBD oil
- Adaptil Calm Collar
- Prescription Anti-anxiety medication: For many pets, additional anxiety management is needed for travel. Symptoms include prolonged pacing, vocalizing, trembling, inappropriate urination or defecation and overgrooming. We are happy to discuss different options to help decrease travel anxiety for your pet during any visit. It is advised to always consult a veterinarian before administering these medications. We also recommend that time is allowed to trial how your pet will react to each medication well in advance of the day of travel. As with any medication, different animals can react differently to mood regulating medication. For pets who will be traveling in cargo or with a travel company, these medications are often not recommended or allowed by the travel company.
- Prescription Anti-Nausea Medication: For some pets travel can induce nausea, if this occurs, please let us know and we can prescribe medications for future travel.
While bringing your dog or cat on a trip can produce incredible memories, there are several things to consider before booking your ticket. Travel requirements within the continental United States can vary between states but generally consist of a valid rabies vaccination and travel certificate. Please contact the team to schedule an exam in advance of your trip. It is recommended to contact the airline or travel company you will be using as well as the hotel or residence at all destination points to ensure they do not have additional or specific requirements that should be addressed. We may be unable to assist you should documents be required once you have arrived at your destination.
Hawaii is an exception to the general domestic travel requirements. They require Rabies titer testing and preparation for travel to this island should be started at least 6-7 months in advance of travel. If you plan to travel to Hawaii with your pet at any point, it is helpful to let us know so we can prepare appropriately.
International travel requires a USDA approved health certificate which is provided through a USDA accredited veterinarian. Team Sage is USDA accredited for international travel. This type of travel has strict timelines that must be met precisely. Each country has widely varying requirements and timelines for preparation range from 10 days to over 6 months. Please let us know as soon as possible if you have any intention of international travel to ensure we meet all requirements for your trip.
The USDA APHIS website can be a helpful resource if you are considering a trip to an international location and are considering taking your pet.
For those who will be regularly traveling back and forth to countries in the EU, it can be helpful to procure an EU pet passport. This facilitates travel within the EU as well as from the USA. You can only acquire an EU passport through a certified veterinarian in an EU country. All future rabies vaccines must be completed by one of their certified vets to maintain the passport as a valid travel document. This passport will eliminate the need for an international health certificate to the EU.