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Traveling with Pets: What to Know Before You Go

By Susan M. Ewing

Traveling with your furry friend can make an excellent vacation even better! Before you explore a new destination together, there are a few things you should keep in mind. We’ve outlined everything you’ll need to take, vacation safety tips, and other essential information for traveling with pets.


Travel increases the chances that your pet may get away from you and become lost. Make sure your pet is microchipped and wearing a collar with identification tags. The microchip is inserted under your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades and contains your contact information. Special scanners at shelters and veterinarians’ offices read the chips to identify lost animals, so getting your pet microchipped can help them return to you safely.

Pet Policies

Make sure your pet is welcome at your destination. If you’re staying at a campground or state or federal park, find out the rules ahead of time and obtain a record of any required vaccinations. If you’re staying at a hotel, call first to ask about the pet policy. Don’t rely on guidebooks or websites, as these may be out of date. Always ask about fees when traveling with pets; the charges at some pet-friendly places are anything but friendly!

Travel Supplies

Food and Water
Your preferred pet food brand may not be available everywhere, or it may not be available in the most convenient size for your travels. However, always check to see if a store near your destination has it in stock. It’s also a good idea to take water from home. If you can’t carry enough for the entire time you’re gone, mix your home water with the local water to help prevent stomach upset.

If your pet is on any medications, pack them too. Remember that the TSA typically does not allow liquids on commercial flights, so you may need to stow liquid medications in a checked bag if you’re traveling on a plane.

First Aid Kit
Your pet’s first-aid kit should include the following items:
• Adhesive tape
• Antibiotic cream
• Antihistamine, in case of bug bites or bee stings
• Antiseptics
• Aspirin
• Cotton balls
• Gauze pads
• Hydrogen peroxide
• Rubbing alcohol
• Tweezers

Waste Bags and Litter
If you have a dog, don’t forget waste bags so that you can pick up after your pet. For cats, make sure you have plenty of litter and a litter box at your destination. A few extra towels and a roll of paper towels are also great to take in case of messes. Make sure your pet has a chance to potty before a flight or road trip!

Securing your pet can lessen the chance that they will get lost. Crate your pet while in the car to keep them safe and prevent them from jumping around, which could distract the driver or obscure their view.

If your furry friend enjoys taking in the view while in a vehicle, you can also use a pet harness which attaches to the seat belt, keeping them on the seat. One word of warning: use harnesses in the back seat. A front-seat airbag may seriously injure or kill a pet.

For smaller pets who are 12 pounds or under, a pet stroller might work best for you. The carrier can be detached from the stroller body and used as a soft carrying bag, and it can also fit under an airplane seat. The ventilated design gives your small pet lots of access to fresh air. Small dogs may enjoy the ride, too.

Planning ahead can take your next trip from good to great. Keep our pet travel tips on hand to make sure you and your best friend enjoy a safe, happy, and fun adventure together!

Four Paws®, Magic Coat®, and Wee-Wee® products are available at major pet stores everywhere in the U.S. Please check with your local retailer or our Where to Buy page for product availability near you.