PAWS AND REFLECT | Traveling with your pet

The holidays are a special time when families come together to enjoy each other’s company. Delectable cuisine is prepared and heartily consumed, stories are regaled by the fireside and presents are lovingly handed round. It is natural that you would want your furry family member to be present during this jubilant festivity.

Protocols vary depending on how and where you will head. Allow yourself enough time before traveling to ensure that you meet every requirement needed — that way you won’t need to scramble at the last minute in case you missed something. 


Plane travel 

Hundred of pets and millions of people fly safely aboard aircraft every day. It is no surprise that this is the preferred method of globetrotting. 

Each airline has specific guidelines when it comes to pet travel. We always recommend that, prior to the trip, you contact your airline and let them know that you wish to bring your animal. They will inform you on fees, policies and any other prerequisites they may have. 

If they ask for a health certificate for your pet to board, we recommend that you set up an appointment with your veterinarian 10 days prior to your departure. 

A good website to help you prepare for your trip is www. 


International travel

A new trend is spending the holidays abroad. If you plan to take your pet along with you across the pond, be prepared for a lengthy process. 

Just like airlines, each country has a specific list of entry requirements. You’ll want to make sure you’ve dotted every I and crossed every T, so that you aren’t stranded at customs. Calling the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is a good start when you are preparing for international travel, and they are very helpful. You can view each country’s requirements on the USDA website: 

If this process seems daunting, there are firms available to handle everything for you. They can sometimes be expensive, but if it allows you less stress, it’s worth every penny. 


Road travel

Road trips are always fun. They can be very scenic, as well, and allows you and your pet time to explore new places on your way to your destination. 

Health certificates are not always required when cruising by car, unless you are crossing the border into Mexico or Canada. At any rate, at least make sure your pets are up-to-date on their vaccinations and have a copy of the immunizations in case the hotel wishes to see proof. 

We also strongly recommend updating your pet’s identification tag and making sure they have a microchip implanted in the event they run off at a rest stop. 

A great book series to keep on hand while hitting the road with your furry baby is “The Dog Lover’s Companion” series. It has a book for almost every state and has practical tips, as well as useful information on hotels and campgrounds that accommodate pets across the United States. 

My dog, Jasmyn, and I have explored almost every area that was mentioned in ‘The Dog Lover’s Companion to the Pacific Northwest.”


Out-of-town guests

You may have family members coming to your house with their own pets in tow. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your pets are current on their immunizations and flea prevention in the event that your four-legged houseguests are not. 

It is also a good idea to introduce these visitors slowly to avoid territory wars, meeting your family outside if you are able, where it is neutral is sometimes the best method to avoid any altercations. 

Occasionally, your pets may still be hurt that there are out-of-towners using their bowls and playing with their toys, so be prepared to keep the animals separate from each other, if necessary. 

Wherever you may end up spending the holidays, we wish everyone a safe and happy holiday and a happy new year!


MEGAN L. FOUCH is the office manager at the Madison Park Veterinary Hospital ( To comment on this story, write to

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