Summertime Pet Travel Tips

Make it a Fun Experience for Fido, Too

Is your family pet joining you on summer vacation? Whether you’re traveling in trains, planes or automobiles, these helpful pet travel tips will help ensure smooth sailing on your journey.

Air Travel Restrictions

Dog on a plane

Many airlines have established travel restrictions for pets to ensure they are not exposed to extreme temperatures while in the holding area (which is not air conditioned), the terminal facility and when being moved between the terminal and the aircraft. Ask your airline of choice if they have a summertime travel embargo preventing pets from flying during the months of May through September.

Arrival, layover and departure airports that have a temperature above 84 degrees will not accept pets. For brachycephalic dogs breeds (including pugs, Boston terriers, boxers, bulldogs chow chows, some mastiffs, Pekingese, pit bulls, Lhasa apsos, Shar-Peis and Shih Tzus) and snub-nosed cats (Burmese, exotics, Himalayans, Persians, British shorthairs and Scottish folds) that restriction is 75 degrees.

Consider a red-eye flight or an early morning departure when temperatures are cooler. Try to avoid layovers, if possible. If your pet is traveling in the cargo bay, choose early morning or late evening flights to avoid extreme temperatures that may affect your pet’s health.

Air Travel Policies

Cat in carrier

Before booking your ticket, call the airline to make sure you have a clear understanding of their pet policy to avoid any complications upon your arrival at the terminal. This includes necessary paperwork for your pet, crate size requirements and other details. Not only may there be restrictions based on seasonal temperature and types of breeds traveling, some airlines also impose age restrictions.

Delta Airlines announced in December 2011 that they were no longer permitting pugs or snub-nosed cats to board as cargo on any flights. Make sure your pet will be welcome on board the airline of your choice before you commit to purchasing a ticket that may be nonrefundable.  

Avoid the Holiday Rush

If traveling during the summer holidays, try leaving a day or two before and after the main rush, and use direct flights whenever possible to avoid accidental transfers, delays or, worse, a displaced pet. Space for small pets permitted in the cabin is limited, so book early.

Dog at camp site

Pet Lodging Permitted?

If you’re taking a road trip get prior confirmation from hotels and camp sites that your pet is a welcome guest. Don’t presume that information in a brochure or on a Web site has the most up-to-date information.

Usually, hotels have a limited number of pet-friendly rooms which can book up quickly during summer months so plan your trip ahead of time to secure a place for you and your companion.

Don’t Leave Home without These

  • Don’t forget to bring your pet’s essentials:
  • Litter box/poop bags
  • Food, water and treats*
  • Dog in safety harness
  • Food and water dishes
  • Leash or harness
  • A couple favorite toys
  • Pet health certificate (required by airlines , some hotels)
  • First-aid kit
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent for pets (check with your vet)
  • Any necessary medications
  • ID tags
  • If traveling on an airplane, tape your pet’s picture to the outside of the kennel along with your contact info

*Always bring enough food for your pet plus two extra servings just as a precaution. It’s not ideal to switch up your pet’s diet while you’re traveling as that can lead to an upset stomach and diarrhea.

Prepare Your Pet for a Healthy, Safe Trip

Two Labrador retrievers in a car

A few useful tips before you hit the trail:

  • The USDA asks that pets be given food and water four hours prior to check in at the airport. If you’re traveling in a car, avoid feeding pets one hour prior to your road trip to avoid motion sickness.
  • Use car safety restraints to protect your pet in case of an accident.
  • Don’t ever leave your pet unattended in a hot car. As little as a few minutes in a hot car can result in a catastrophic, life threatening situation.
  • Consider a checkup with your pet’s veterinarian prior to any travel to make sure your pet is up to date on vaccines and is in good health. The airline will require proof of this as well.