5 Safety Tips to Get Spring and Summer Pet Travel Season Ready

5 Safety Tips to Get Spring and Summer Pet Travel Season Ready

There is a lot to do preparing for a trip with your pet and we want to provide you with some tips to ensure their safety!    

 Tip #1: Know Your Pet’s Health

If you are making plans to travel with your cat, dog or any other pet that can fit in a crate/carrier, it is important to make sure that you get their health checked before you go.  Schedule an appointment many weeks prior to travel with your veterinarian. You want to make sure they are medically fit for travel and healthy enough to manage the stress of traveling.  Request that your veterinarian review the medical history of your pet.  If your pet has an underlying medical condition (i.e. heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, etc.), it may not be in the best interest of your pet to travel with you. 

Tip #2: Obtain your Pet’s  Health Certificate

When traveling within the US or to an international destination via air, most airlines require your pet to have a health certificate (HC), or international health certificate (IHC) dated within 10 days of travel.  They  are obtained from a licensed and USDA Accredited Veterinarian in the state where the certificate is issued.   If your veterinarian does not issue health certificates,  then you can look one upon the USDA National Veterinary Accreditation Program website.  Be aware that the issuance of the document does not mean that your pet is healthy.  Primarily, it means that your pet does not have evidence of an infectious/communicable disease.

You must inform your veterinarian of the destination.  If traveling domestically in the US, a HC is required for their transport.  However, if traveling internationally, an international health certificate (IHC) specific to the destination is required. An IHC is more detailed than a HC and can require your pet to be identified via microchipping (ISO-compatible), have results of a series of diagnostic tests, and current vaccinations.  Depending upon the destination country, it may take weeks or months to complete the IHC. Each country, including the United States, has their own regulations for an animal entry.  Visit USDA/APHIS/PetTravel to learn about domestic and international pet entry requirements.  When traveling to or returning back to the US with your pet, you must abide by CDC’s Animal  Importation Regulatory Requirements.

Tip #3: Obtain/Purchase an IATA-LAR Compliant Crate that is the Correct Size for your Pet.

Most US airlines comply with the International Air Transport Association Live Animals Regulations (IATA-LAR) for the transport of live animals via cargo.  IATA-LAR provides the shipping container requirements for the transport of live animals.  The container requirements are defined to promote the safety and welfare of animals during travel via cargo. Most pet travel crates on the commercial market are advertised as “airline-compliant or approved”, however these travel crates do not comply with the standards of IATA-LAR.  Airlines can refuse to ship animals that are not in crates that comply with IATA-LAR.

Airlines can also refuse to ship pets that are in a crate that is too small for the animal.  Crate size is NOT determined by the weight of a pet, as “airline-compliant or approved” crates suggest.  Crate size is determined by the height, length, and width of your pet.

Dogs and cats are to be transported in a shipping container that complies with the current version of  IATA-LAR Container Requirement #1.  The container requirement provides the container construction, ventilation requirements, and guidance on determining the crate size for your pet.  We have suggestions on our site that are the perfect crate to travel in cargo and the perfect carrier to travel in cabin.

Tip #4: Let Them Get Used to the Crate

After you obtain/purchase the correct sized IATA-LAR compliant crate, then it is important to get your pet acclimated to confinement in the crate.  Be aware, it can take weeks to months to get your pet acclimated to confinement. They should feel like the crate is their “safe space”.  You can do this first by just letting the crate  sit in your house with the door open.  Make the crate inviting and let them go in and out to get comfortable.  Then close the door and let them get used to staying in the container for a certain amount of time.  Start  with 30 minutes, if they have never been in a crate.  Work your way up to an hour, then 3, then 6 and so forth.  You can also start taking them on short trips, while they are inside the crate.  Always reward your pet for going inside their crate.  Never use the crate as punishment.

Tip 5: Know the Pet Travel Airline Rules

Not all airlines have the same rules about pets traveling with you in-cabin and via cargo.  Make sure that you check out their site for the policies so that you are aware of what to do.  We have a listing on our site that can help.

These 5 tips should get you started before you hop on the next flight with your pet.  But if you have more questions about the process or your pet, feel free to reach out to Dr Nelva Bryant at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Traveling with Your Dog or Cat in the Cabin - Esse...
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