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  • Writer's pictureStream Valley Vet

Traveling With Your Pet

Traveling with your pet can be a bit more involved than packing up some food and dishes and fitting a carrier into the car. Interstate travel (via car, train, plane...) and international travel generally require various records, forms, and certificates, and the paperwork needed depends on your destination and mode of travel. As you plan your trip, check with your airline, departure and destination Departments of Health, etc. for their requirements. 

You can also give us a call at (703) 723-1017 if you need help identifying vaccination/preventative/testing needs, paperwork obligations, and deadlines. We'll set up an appointment for your pet to receive an Interstate or International Health Certificate with exam so that your pet will be ready for your family's travel!

Car Travel (Dos and Don'ts)

Some hotel chains are pet friendly, so you can check to see if you would like to bring your pet with you. However, remember travel is stressful and often nauseating; we recommend an appointment for a general health exam. Your pet may be a good candidate for helpful medications such as Dramamine, Acepromazine, or Cerenia. 

Safety is an issue as well! Remember pets will also be injured in a car accident similarly to a child without a proper car seat, booster seat, or seatbelt. For this reason, we recommend transport in a kennel cab or with padded harnesses that can be secured in seatbelts.

Domestic Airline Travel

Flying is also stressful and will require a general exam and written health certificate from a veterinarian. Check with your airline and your departure and destination cities, but usually health certificates are required within 10 days of your flight. During this health exam, vaccines can be updated and any concerns about sedating the pet for travel can be discussed, whether your pet will travel within the cargo section or in the cabin if they are small enough to fit in a carrier under the seat. You should research/question the airlines themselves about their restrictions on weather; it may be too hot or cold to fly pets in cargo. 

You should also find out about any specific criteria for types of carriers that are accepted, especially if your pet is flying in cargo.  Additionally, personal pieces of clothing, usually cotton T-shirts, are probably reassuring to your pet and conducive to sleep during the flight.  Special precautions should be discussed when flying brachycephalic, or "short-faced," dog or cat breeds, as minimal respiratory stress can lead to grave health consequences in flight; private pet shipping agencies do exist and could be safer in these circumstances.

International Travel Services

Depending on your country of destination, the requirements for bringing a pet along can vary quite a lot. It is best to do your own research on the country's and your airline's requirements for the trip well in advance of your departure date, but at Stream Valley we strive to make your trip as stress-free as possible by doing our part in researching the travel/entry requirements as well.  Common requirements may include specially-timed vaccinations and dewormings, blood tests (commonly rabies titers), and finally an International Health Certificate signed by a specially-permitted veterinarian.

Stream Valley has several of these veterinarians on staff or associated with our practice, but please be certain to mention your need for an INTERNATIONAL HEALTH CERTIFICATE when making your appointment.  Again, the airlines carrying pets abroad often have very specific/detailed requirements for cage sizes, etc.  This is best researched in advance. At your final exam prior to flight, when the International Health Certificate is written, don't forget to discuss the necessity and/or disadvantages of sedating the individual pet during flight.

As an example, two of our feline patients, Duke Ellington and Duchess Marie, moved from Ashburn, Virginia to London, England during September 2007.  They set in motion their journey's preparation during the previous March, allowing ample time for research, exams, vaccinations, testings, and paperwork.

Here is a partial listing of locations that Stream Valley assisted its clients in traveling or relocating to:

England                           Ireland                           Mexico

Nepal                           Canada                           Germany


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