Published: December 2013
On the Road with Rover  

From the morning we roast the turkey, to the morning-after, when we're sweeping up confetti and party streamers--that is, from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day--a lot of us travel with our pets. And why not? Holidays are more fun when the family is  together.

Jan. 2, 2014 is National Pet Travel Safety Day, and since it's right around the corner, this is a great time to review some tips for keeping your furry friends safe, whether you're hitting the highway or the friendly skies.

Road Trip

  • Road trips don't have to be "ruff" even if you're traveling a long way.  If your dog hasn't traveled by car before, try short, practice runs. It'll help him get used to riding, and if he's going to get car sick, you'll have time to talk to your vet about what to do.

  • Buckle up!  Car safety devices for dogs come in many styles and sizes. Use one to keep your pup from getting into your lap or your line of sight, which could cause a wreck. It'll also prevent them from being tossed around if you need to stop quickly. Driving with cats? It's best to use a carrier.

  • Watch those air bags. These important safety devices for humans can seriously harm or kill small children, and they can do the same to pets. Keep Spot buckled up in the back seat.

  • Plan some breaks. Stop occasionally and let your pet stretch his legs and get a refreshing drink of  water.


  • If Fido must fly for the holidays, try to arrange travel in the passenger cabin. If your pet is too big for that, he'll have to travel in cargo.

  • Cargo is not the best scenario, as it can be cold, dark, and frightening for pets. Check with your vet on how to best medicate your dog before the flight, to help him stay calm.

  • See your veterinarian at least 10 days prior to departure; your airline may require a health certificate.

  • Be sure your travel crate or kennel is marked with your pet's name, your name, and all your contact info, in case of emergencies.

  • Ask the airline about its pet travel policies, so you won't have any surprises on the day of your trip.

  • Get to the airport early to walk your dog and personally get him into his travel crate.

  • Consider buying pet insurance. It may help cover unexpected vet bills for injuries or illnesses.

  • Traveling internationally? Each country has different requirements for pets, so do your research well in advance. Some countries will quarantine pets for a set amount of time. They may also require that rabies and other health certificates are issued by a federally acccredited vet and that they are accompanied by a US Interstate and International Certificate for Health Examination for Small Animals (AHPIS Form 7001) issued by that vet and endorsed by the USDA.  Ask yourself if the lengthy planning time and costs involved are worth it, and consider the risks and stresses your pet will face. A friend's home or trusted kennel is usually the best place for your dog while you're away.

Plan ahead, ask for advice from your vet when you need it, and enjoy your holidays with your fur-kids!

Special thanks to Dr. Kerri Marshall, Trupanion's CVO (Chief Veterinarian Officer) for the information in this article.

Image: Lynn Coulter