White cat in a cage at vet's office.As members of the family, it’s natural to want to bring your cat or dog on vacation, business trips, or other travel excursions. Depending on the destination and schedule, there may also be times when driving is out of the question.

However, flying with a pet is complex. There are often more stringent regulations and health requirements, as well as specific challenges that must be addressed before you and your pet can take to the skies.

First Things First: Your Pet’s Health

Flying can create stress and anxiety, even if your pet is in optimal health. This is particularly true if your pet cannot fly with you in the cabin. Cargo holds can be dangerous places for animals, so we encourage you to bring your pet aboard with you whenever possible. If you can’t, be sure to know the risks, and only select airlines with pet-safe policies.

When crossing state lines or international borders, you must obtain a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection from your veterinarian within 10 days of departure. This assures the destination state or country that your pet is fully vaccinated and does not present any risk of spreading illness or disease.

At Oak Forest Veterinary Hospital, we can perform this required physical exam. We will also help you get a better understanding of your pet’s travel readiness. Please contact us to find out more.

Getting to Know Your Destination

Planning your vacation may seem thrilling, but don’t forget that many of your endeavors will exclude your pet companion.

It’s important to do your research in advance and make arrangements for some of the following needs:

  • Lodging – Is it a pet-friendly, welcoming environment? Is there a place to walk, an area for your dog to relieve him or herself, etc.?
  • Kennels or doggie daycares – Map out all quality boarding facilities and daycares in your travel area. If you know you will need a sitter, make reservations now.
  • Pet-friendly venues – Your pet will also want to spend time with you, so find parks, beaches, cafes, or other public spaces that welcome your fur friend.

While many cities embrace pets as beloved members of the family, there are some places that are not appropriate for animals. Also keep in mind that pet import/export regulations and quarantine times vary by country. It’s a good idea to contact the foreign office of the country in question or consider working with a pet travel agency.

Packing for the Trip

When away from home, it’s best to emulate the same schedule and comforts of your pet’s daily routine. Travel can be stressful and is compounded by dietary or exercise changes. Try to stay consistent.

When packing, here are some must-haves for your four-legged pal:

  • Leash, collar, and current ID tags
  • Make sure your pet is microchipped
  • Bed and crate/carrier
  • Food and treats
  • Medications
  • Medical records and certificate of health
  • Toys, games, etc.
  • Litter box/waste bags
  • Grooming supplies
  • Booties, outerwear (depending on destination)

When Flying With a Pet Isn’t an Option

Perhaps due to age, illness, or anxiety, there may be times when flying with a pet simply isn’t going to happen. Sometimes, the best option is boarding at a place where he or she can enjoy some TLC and all the amenities of home.

At Oak Forest Veterinary Hospital, we offer comfy accommodations and are very feline-friendly (complete with entertaining window views!). We also provide tv/radio in the boarding suites and exceptional, personalized care. Please contact us to learn more or to make a reservation.