Can’t imagine celebrating the holidays without your furry friend by your side? Traveling with a pet can be an overwhelming experience. Even if you’re a seasoned pro, rules and regulations change all the time. Use the checklist below to make traveling with your four-legged companion a cinch.

  • Up-to-date vaccinations—While it’s wonderful preventive care to keep your pet up-to-date on her vaccinations, it’s especially important while traveling. Diseases that are easily transmitted between dogs, such as distemper, parvovirus, and Bordetella, should be protected against by updating vaccinations. Airlines and boarding facilities may refuse to handle your pet if you can’t show proof of a current rabies vaccination. Include the most recent copy of your pet’s vaccination history in your traveling documents.
  • Certificate of Veterinary Inspection—Many airlines require a health certificate issued by a federally accredited veterinarian within 10 days of traveling. This certificate proves that your pet is healthy enough to travel and is free of any diseases that can be transmitted to other animals or people. If you’re traveling out of the country, and your furry friend is tagging along, more documentation may be necessary. Check with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and your destination country’s embassy to verify what paperwork is needed.
  • Traveling crate—If traveling by plane, your pet must have an airline-approved carrier. Find out what crate is necessary, and purchase in advance, allowing plenty of time for your cat or dog to become familiar with it. Be sure it is well-ventilated, has a leak-proof bottom, and is large enough for your pet to stand upright. Clearly label the outside with these important details:
    • Your name
    • Address
    • Phone number
    • Destination contact information
    • Sign stating there is a live animal inside
    • Arrows indicating an upright position

Whether your pet will travel in the cabin with you or in the cargo hold is determined by her size. Give the airline a call to see how your pet will travel.

  • Identification—Make sure your pet’s ID tag and microchip information is up-to-date and includes your cell phone number. Travel ID tags can also be made to show local contact information. Keep a recent color photo of you and your pet together—it may help the two of you be reunited if necessary.
  • Medications—In addition to heartworm, flea, and tick prevention, bring a good supply of any medications your pet is taking. Have a stash that will last long enough for your trip, plus a few extra days in case of an emergency. Worried your panicky pooch or fearful feline may not travel well? Ask us how to help keep your pet calm and relaxed while traveling.
  • Verify reservations—Hotels, airlines, boarding facilities, or even family can throw a major wrench in your holiday plans with a change or cancellation. Before loading up the car, double check that your reservations are in place. Ask these questions:
    • Is my hotel pet-friendly, specifically for my pet’s size and breed?
    • Is my flight on time, with no delays or unplanned layovers?
    • Is my pet appropriately scheduled for boarding during my traveling dates? What are the hours available for drop-off and pick-up?
    • Is my family expecting my pet? Is anyone allergic to animals? Will there be any other pets, and, if so, are they friendly?
  • Accessories—Taking your pet along may mean you’ll need a larger suitcase to haul her bedding, food, bowls, toys, leash, and other supplies. If you are unable to purchase any of your pet’s familiar items when you arrive at your holiday destination, be sure to bring them. Swapping out your pet’s normal items can cause unwanted problems, including:
    • Diarrhea and vomiting from switching foods
    • Litter box avoidance from changing litter
    • Stress and anxiety from a new crate, bedding, and environment

Try to keep as much of your pet’s routine in place as possible to reduce extra holiday stress.


Need to update your pet’s vaccinations, have an interstate health certificate filled out before traveling, or need a recommendation for a USDA-accredited veterinarian to provide an international health certificate? Give us a call at 512-696-3980 to schedule a visit so you can check these tasks off your holiday to-do list.