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Many four-legged companions love to explore new sights and sounds, and even the streets of an unfamiliar city can provide a smorgasbord of discoveries for your animal friend to enjoy. Once you decide to hit the road with your furry ball of wonder, plan accordingly:

  • Get a clean bill of health from the veterinarian and update your pet’s vaccinations. Obtain a health certificate showing proof of up-to-date inoculations, particularly rabies, distemper and kennel cough.

  • Ask the doctor about potential health risks at your destination (Lyme disease, heartworm infection) and the necessary preventive measures.

  • If your pet is taking prescribed medicine, pack a sufficient supply plus a few days’ extra. Also, take the prescription in case you need a refill and get a list of clinics or doctors at your destination from your veterinarian or the American Animal Hospital Association (www.healthypet.com).

  • Depending on the length and nature of the trip and your pet’s level of command response, an obedience refresher course might be a good idea. It’s also a good idea to socialize your pet by exposing her to other people and animals (especially if she normally stays inside).

  • Learn about your destination and find out what types of documentation will be required and check into quarantines or other restrictions well in advance.

  • Most people traveling with pets drive, and our Car Travel Section will help auto travelers, pet and person alike.

  • Flying is really the only major alternative to car travel. Amtrak, as well as Greyhound and other interstate bus lines, do not accept pets. Many airlines do accept animals in the passenger cabin or cargo hold, and as more people choose to fly with their pets, airlines are becoming more pet-conscious. Check out the Airline Travel Section and be sure to inquire about animal shipping and welfare policies before making reservations.

  • Reconfirm all travel plans within a few days of your departure, especially with lodgings and airlines; their policies may have changed after you made the reservations. If you plan to visit state parks or attractions that accept pets on the premises, obtain their animal regulations in advance.
Note: Seeing-eye dogs and other service animals are exempt from the regulations prohibiting pets on Amtrak and interstate bus lines. Local rail and bus companies may allow pets in small carriers, but this is an exception rather than a rule.
Cruises: The only cruise ship that currently permits pets is the Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 (on trans-Atlantic crossings); kennels are provided, but animals are accepted on a very limited basis. Some charter and sightseeing boat companies permit pets onboard.
Note: Some owners believe a sedated animal travels more easily than one that is fully aware, but this is rarely the case. In fact, tranquilizing an animal can make travel much more stressful. Always consult a veterinarian about what is best for your pet, and administer sedatives only under the doctor’s direction. NEVER give an animal medication that is specifically prescribed for humans. The dosage may be too high for an animal’s much smaller body mass, or may cause dangerous side effects.

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Find this information and more in Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook®.

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