Traveling with Pets: Safety Tips for Dogs and Cats

Our pets – My Dog’s Poop Smells Like Death – are family members, so of course we would like them to accompany us on vacations and trips. However, there are a number of things to consider before making the decision to travel with your pet.

Including your beloved dog or cat safely in your travels takes a lot of planning and organization.Here are six tips to help you take the stress out of traveling with animals. We invite you to use these practical tips.

1. Determine if this trip is in your pet’s best interest

Travel can be stressful for pets, as it is for humans, so before you start planning a trip with your pet, ask yourself these important questions:

  • Is your pet easily stressed?
  • Is your pet elderly or vulnerable?
  • Will your pet be in distress if put in a carrier or carrier?

You know your pet better than anyone, so you know best if your companion is up to the challenges of travel. If you are unsure, ask your veterinarian for advice. If you decide the trip will be too difficult for your pet, it’s best to arrange for it to be cared for while you’re away.

However, if you decide to take Fido or Minet with you, make sure your itinerary will be tailored to his needs from start to finish. Check ahead with the hotels, airlines, ferries and bus companies you plan to use and make sure they allow pets. Make sure your pet will be welcomed before booking any accommodation or non-refundable service.

2. Know the laws and regulations of your destination

You will need to find out about the laws and regulations of your destination. Many countries have strict policies regarding the entry of animals into the country. Be sure to do the right research and comply with all regulations, including vaccinations and health checks.

Consider the following questions when planning a trip:

  • Are you traveling within Canada or to another country? If you are traveling abroad with pets, does your destination require any documents or permits for your pet?
  • What vaccinations (and proof of vaccination), health certificates and other documents does your pet need to have to enter the country?
  • Does your pet have a microchip?
  • Is there a quarantine to organize?
  • Does the country deny entry to animals of your animal’s species or breed?

You will find the answer to many of these questions online. Airlines, airports, and government agencies often have departments dedicated to animal travel regulations. You may need to make an appointment with your veterinarian before traveling to get a health certificate, vaccinations, or additional copies of your cat or dog’s medical records. All of this can take time, so be sure to schedule a visit to your vet well before you leave.

3. How will your pet travel with you?

If you plan to travel by plane or boat, you will likely need to put your pet in a carrier or carrier (exceptions apply for dogs on some ferries). If your pet isn’t used to spending time in their crate or carrier, this could create additional stress. Take the time to get your pet used to their crate in the weeks and months leading up to your trip. Place your pet’s favorite toys or treats in the crate or carrier to encourage them to see it as a safe place to rest or nap.

For more tips on learning to use the crate, you can consult the following article: “Guide to learning the use of the crate for the dog” (in English only), published by the Ottawa Humane Society.

If you are traveling by air, you will need to ensure that your pet’s crate meets International Air Transport Association (IATA) requirements. If the carrier or carry bag goes in the cargo hold, make sure its base is waterproof and that it has adequate ventilation and a strong, secure lock.

4. Think about toilet breaks and rest stops

If you are traveling by car, make sure you have identified in advance the places along your route where your dog or cat can go out to relieve themselves.

Dogs generally need at least three to five breaks a day, but this amount can increase if your dog is nervous or drinks more water than usual.

If you’re traveling with your cat, let her use her litter box every four to six hours. Traveling can increase your cat’s stress level, so make sure the area is secure before you take your cat out of its crate to use the litter box.


If your pet is traveling by plane or other mode of transportation where it will be separated from you, make sure you have a cage large enough for your pet to relieve itself somewhere other than where it lies down. Place an absorbent puppy litter or mat in one corner of the crate and make sure it’s secure and won’t fall or slip on your pet.

5. Understand the health risks associated with traveling with your pet

Schedule a visit to the vet to discuss your pet’s general health and fitness to travel. You might also want to research animal hospitals near your destination, in case of an emergency.

Your pet may come into contact with parasites abroad that are different from those at home. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a product that will prevent or control common parasites your pet might encounter while on the go.

6. Stock up on pet essentials before your trip

Make a list of everything your pet will need. This list could include:

  • a medal with his name (with your cell phone number),
  • food and treats,
  • any regular medication your pet needs,
  • an up-to-date copy of your pet’s medical records,
  • bowls of water and food for travel,
  • a brush and toilet accessories,
  • one or two favorite toys,
  • a leash and harness for dogs,
  • an old towel or an old sheet to cover the hotel furniture,
  • a photo of your pet, in case you lose it.

Traveling with a pet certainly requires more planning, but with the right preparation, you can enjoy a hassle-free vacation with all your family members.

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