Today we have a guest post from Dr. Alison Birken, a small animal veterinarian from Fort Lauderdale. She is sharing some fantastic advice on how to travel safely with your pet.
Well, it’s definitely that time of year where people and their pets are traveling. I own a veterinary hospital in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale, Victoria Park Animal Hospital. We are a hub for travelers, tourists, and snowbirds. I would say that I sign at least two health certificates for pets per day for travel during these busy months.
Traveling with pets can be stress free and easy, or completely frustrating and tedious. It is important to be organized, know what you need to cross state, or international lines with your pet, and to be prepared. Today I am going to discuss some important tips when traveling with your pet.
What do I need to consider when traveling with my pet?
- Some pets cannot handle travel because of illness, injury, age or temperament. Speak with your veterinarian regarding their assessment on the safety and wellbeing of your pet during travel.
- Make sure your pet has identification tags with up-to-date information. Microchips are a great way to have your pet identified and make it back to you if they are ever lost.
- If you are taking your pet across state or international borders, a health certificate is required. The health certificate must be signed by a USDA certified veterinarian after your pet has been examined and found to be free of disease. (Editor’s note: Canadian travellers should visit travel.gc.ca for information pertaining to travel across and out of the country.)
- Your pet’s vaccinations must be up to date in order for the health certificate to be completed.
- Make sure your pet is permitted at your destination whether that be a friend’s house, a hotel/motel, park or campground, etc.
Whom should I contact to prepare for travel arrangements?
- Your veterinarian.
- The airline or travel company.
- The accommodations: hotel, motel, park, campground, or marina.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal & Plant Inspection Service, Veterinary Services (USDA).
Foreign Consulate or Regulatory Agency (if traveling to another country). (Editor’s note: Canadians should speak with their veterinarian to confirm required documents. Also check your government website for more information.)
What supplies should I have for my pet on my trip?
- Your veterinarian’s contact information.
- List of veterinarians and 24 hour emergency hospitals along the way and close to your destination.
- Identification (current color photo of your pet, ID tag including owners name, current address, contact phone number, Travel ID tag including owners name, address, contact phone number, accommodations contact information, microchip registration).
- Medical records.
- Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate).
- Acclimation certificate for air travel (a form from your veterinarian that will waive the low temperature federal regulation as stated in the Animal Welfare Act. This is only required by some airlines, so check with your airlines).
- Items for your pets (prescribed medications, collar, leash, harness, crate, bed/blankets, toys, food and cool, fresh water, food and water dishes, first aid kit for your pet).
Can I bring my pet out of the country with me?
Yes, but you must follow both your countries regulations as well as the regulations in the other country where you are traveling. You will need to contact the consulate or embassy in that country to find out their regulations. Some countries require months of preparation before you can leave, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time to prepare and have all documents and medical requirements ready and available. International travel always requires a health certificate signed by a USDA certified veterinarian. (Editors note: Canadian travellers click here to learn more about documentation needed.)
The key to traveling with your pet is to BE PREPARED and know what will be required from the USDA, the airline, and the country if you are going abroad. Your veterinarian is there to aid and help in smooth travels, however it is your responsibility to know which documents will be required and what you will need. I tell my clients if they are traveling abroad to learn what is required 6 months in advance because some countries will require that amount of time to prepare.
I hope this is helpful and you have happy, stress-free travels!
About our guest poster:
My name is Dr. Alison Birken and I am a small animal veterinarian, wife, mother of three, and a sister to my three siblings. Over the past six years, I have dedicated my life to building and operating an animal hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, accomplishing a lifelong goal of mine. In addition, along with my sisters (Katie, a pediatrician and Carrie, a fashion stylist), I am a co-founder of Forever Freckled, a website dedicated to helping people with pets, children, and everyday lifestyle. It has been an incredible journey turning my passion for animals into a career and nothing brings me more joy than to help pets and their parents with wellness and healthy living. For wellness and health tips for pets, and other lifestyle advice, please follow our journey at Forever Freckled.
Editor’s note: Alison’s advice has been written from a US point of view, but much of the advice applies to Canadians who want to travel with their pets as well. Always check travel.gc.ca and contact your vet before taking your furry friends on the road.