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Traveling with pets: What to know beforehand

We love our pets. Therefore, traveling with them should be enjoyable and stress-free

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Successfully traveling with your pets takes planning and patience, experts say.

A comfort dog waits for its owner at Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City on Nov. 29, 2020. Successfully traveling with pets takes planning and patience, experts say.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Bringing our pets along for an adventure introduces them to new sights and scents, offering them a refreshing change of scenery. Additionally, it provides families with a comforting assurance that their pets are nearby, safe and sound.

The planning and preparation that goes into traveling with pets can feel daunting with laws, restrictions and safety concerns. Set some time aside to think about your travel plans. Figure out what your pets need to be safe and comfortable beforehand to prevent avoidable stress during your trip.

To start, here is a comprehensive guide with essential insights to ease your journey and ensure the safety and well-being of your beloved furry companion.

Visit the vet for documentation

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some travel destinations have requirements involving a pet’s health and identifications. Requirements may include:

  • Microchips.
  • Permits.
  • Blood tests.
  • Vaccinations.
  • Health certificates.

If traveling in-state, consider visiting the State Agriculture Department’s website or contacting the state animal health official in your destination to find the exact requirements.

Traveling internationally, on the other hand, requires a lot more research and time with the vet. The CDC’s website has a drop-down menu to select your desired destination. The website will then tell you the required documents and tests needed for your pet.

The CDC’s website also lists requirements for bringing animals into the United States. While there is a temporary suspension for dogs entering the U.S. from high-risk countries due to dog rabies, most pets are allowed if entry documents are in order.

Do airlines allow pets to travel?

Most planes allow cats and dogs onboard. However, there are differences depending on if a pet can travel next to their owner or in the cargo area. Here are the airline pet policies for U.S. airline brands, per Chewy.

American Airlines

  • Service and emotional support cats or dogs can travel in cabin if they are in a kennel, are smaller than a 2-year old child and are 4 months old or older. Documentation is required. If the animal does not fit at your feet or on your lap, you will be required to buy another ticket.
  • Other carry-on pets, two small cats or dogs, are allowed for $125. They must be at least 8 weeks old and in a carrier.
  • Cats and dogs can travel in cargo for $200. Check restrictions about what breeds are not allowed.

Delta

  • Service and emotional support animals are allowed with documentation. They should fit on a lap or by feet.
  • Carry-on pets, small cats, dogs and birds, are allowed for $125 in a carrier. They must be at least 10 weeks old.
  • Cargo prices for pets range between $100 to $300 depending on their size. However, pets cannot be guaranteed to be on the same flight as the owner.

Southwest Airlines

  • Service and emotional support cats and dogs are allowed with documentation. The animal must fit on a lap or by feet.
  • Carry-on cats and dogs can travel for $95 each if they remain in carriers and are at least 8 weeks old.
  • No pets are allowed in cargo.

United Airlines

  • Service and emotional support cats and dogs are allowed with proper documentation. They must fit on a lap or by feet.
  • Cats, dogs, rabbits and household birds can travel in cabin for $125 each way. The animal must stay in a carrier.
  • United has a program called PetSafe for transportation of animals in cargo.

JetBlue

  • Service and emotional support cats and dogs are allowed with proper documentation given 48 hours in advance. Animals must fit on a lap or by feet.
  • Cats and dogs can be taken as carry-ons in a carrier for $125. There is a limit of one per person and the pet cannot exceed 20 pounds.
  • Pets are not transported as cargo.

Alaska Airlines

  • Service and emotional support cats and dogs can travel with documentation given at least 48 hours in advance. They must be leashed, behaved and in a travel kennel that fits under the seat in front of them.
  • Dogs, cats, rabbits and household birds are allowed in cabin for $100 each way. They must be at least 8 weeks old, weaned and in carriers.
  • Pets can be taken on as cargo for $100 each way.

Spirit Airlines

  • Service and emotional support animals are allowed with proper documentation. Snakes and other reptiles, rodents, ferrets, sugar gliders and spiders are not allowed. Animals must be in carriers and fit on a lap or by the feet.
  • For $110 per pet carrier, small dogs, cats, rabbits and household birds are allowed. Two pets can be in one carrier with the maximum weight being 40 pounds. Pets must be at least 8 weeks old and weaned.
  • Spirit does not take animals in cargo.

Frontier Airlines

  • Small service and emotional support cats and dogs can come onboard with proper documentation given 48 hours in advance. They must sit in a lap or by feet.
  • Dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and household birds can be taken on as travel pets for $75 each way. They must fit in a travel kennel and remain in the kennel.
  • Frontier does not take pets as cargo.

Allegiant

  • Service and emotional support cats and dogs are allowed with documentation. Animals must weigh 30 pounds or less and sit on a lap or by feet.
  • Cats and dogs are allowed as carry-on pets if they fit in a small carrier. The fee is $100 for each way per carrier, maximum two animals in a carrier.
  • Allegiant does not take pets as cargo.

What to know about road trips

To not have to worry about extra fees or sending your pet to cargo, a road trip might be better. While there are no rules regarding documentation for having a pet in your car, you might want to make sure they feel safe.

The Wildest offers some tips to ensure safety.

  • Schedule stops.
  • Start with shorter trips and build up to longer ones.
  • Don’t feed while driving if there is a possibility of motion sickness. Keep them hydrated.
  • Be mindful of other people and pets you encounter.
  • Use a crate, designed seatbelt or something else to keep your pet safe in the case of an emergency. Help your animal get used to the restraint if necessary.

Hotels and other accommodations

If you’re not staying at a friend’s house or visiting family, you will need to find places that allow your specific type and breed of pet. Progressive shares tips to make a stay at an accommodation enjoyable.

  • Research pet fees and restrictions. Restrictions might be placed on pet weight or size. Furthermore, some places ask animals not to be left alone or use particular locations to go to the bathroom.
  • Ask about the property and noise levels. Pets that are anxious might get nervous around a place that has big crowds or loud noises.
  • If in a hotel, book a room on the first floor. Pets will be less likely to disturb guests as there is no one below you. If you need to take your pet outside to go to the bathroom, it will be quicker.
  • Bring needed supplies such as litter boxes, disinfectant sprays, cleaners, trash bags or wipes to help keep the area clean and your pet healthy.

By prioritizing the safety and comfort of your furry friends, you will be able to have an unforgettable experience and make great memories.