Pet Travel: A Vet Tech Guide

Published on April 18, 2019 by

Pet travel under airplane seat.A lot of pet parents don’t like to travel unless their pets can come along. It is estimated that almost half of all pet owners take their pets with them when they travel. There are more details to handle when your pet is going with you. With careful planning your dog or cat will be safe and comfortable on the journey.

Prepare For Your Trip

If your pet has never been on a long trip, there are preparations you should make to ensure the trip goes smoothly. You can start taking your pet on short trips in the car and gradually increase the duration of the trips. Always keep your pet crated on these short trips.

Take your cat or dog for short walks around the airline terminal or train station, so they get accustomed to different sounds and smells. Speak encouraging words to your pet and offer a reward for good behavior. When you get to the airport or train station, take your pet for a walk around the terminal or station before you board. A walk will help your pet to expend all that excess energy that could result in a stressful trip. Your cat or dog will be more relaxed and likely sleep better during your journey.

Safe Travel for Pets by Air or Transportation Vehicle

One of the essential considerations, when your dog or cat is traveling by air or on a train with you, is a crate that’s designed to be safe and is the proper size for your cat or dog. The crate should be approved by the IATA, the International Air Transport Association. Things to consider when booking airline travel for your pet:

Check With Your Airline

Check with the airline to make sure that the freight facility at the airport is open. Airlines prefer people traveling with pets to fly on weekdays since more staff is available to accommodate them. Some airlines restrict the number of pets that can fly on one flight so make sure they can accept your pet on the date and time you wish to fly.

If you’re traveling in your own country, a non-stop flight might be preferable. However, if you’re flying internationally, you may want to schedule one or more stopovers. Each country has regulations about flying with pets, so make sure you read and understand the guidelines before booking your flight.

Flying in the Cabin

Cats and small dogs are the only pets that are allowed to travel in the cabin with their owners. Larger dogs must travel in a hold that has ventilation and is heated. Dogs that travel in the hold are in an environment that’s dark and quieter than the cabin of the plane so they can rest more comfortably.

Fly Safe: Crates and Kennels

You should choose a container that’s the right size for your dog or cat to sit and stand comfortably, to stand up and turn around, and to have enough room to lie down naturally without being cramped.

The following data is used to calculate the correct dimensions for a crate for your pet when you’re traveling by air or train.

  1. Length of the pet from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail
  2. Height from the ground to elbow joint
  3. Width of the pet’s shoulders at the widest point
  4. Height of the pet when standing
  5. Height of the crate

The Animal Welfare Act under the United States Department of Agriculture has specific guidelines regarding the number of pets that may be shipped in the same crate. No more than two puppies or kittens that are aged six months to two years may be sent in the same crate. The cats or dogs must weigh 20 pounds or less.

Proper Steps for Safe Air Travel with A Pet

When you’re traveling with a pet, whether they’ll be in the plane’s cabin or the cargo hold, you want to ensure that your pet is safe and comfortable during the journey. Here’s what you need to know about air travel when you’re taking your pet along.

Air Travel Pet Dos:

Before Your Trip
  1. Make advance reservations for pets when you book your flight. Airlines have the right to refuse to allow pets if there are too many booked for a flight.
  2. Crate your pet. Stores that sell pet supplies have hard-sided crates for pets that will travel in the cargo area and soft-sided crates for pets that will travel in the cabin.
  3. Line your pet’s crate with an absorbent material.
  4. Fill a water bowl with ice that won’t spill during boarding and can melt so your pet will have fresh water during the trip.
For the Flight
  1. Have easy access to your pet’s collar and leash for a walk before departure, but don’t take your pet out of the crate in the terminal.
  2. Check that your pet is wearing an ID tag. Verify that your name, address, phone number, and the pet’s name is up to date. Attach an identification tag to the travel kennel.
  3. Spend time in the travel kneel before your trip, so it won’t be stressed with the new environment.
  4. Latch the crate door securely, but do not lock. A bag of food should be attached to the exterior of the crate for feeding during layovers.

Air Travel Pet Don’ts

  1. High altitudes and tranquilizers can be a dangerous, so don’t sedate your pet before flying.
  2. Never muzzle your pet during air travel. If your cat or dog should get a digestive upset, this could be extremely dangerous.

Driving with Pets in the Car So They’re Safe

A lot of cat owners agree that riding with your cat in the car isn’t a good idea. However, if you must drive with your cat in the car, make sure to use a cat carrier. Most cats hate the carrier and will howl, but it’s safer for your cat and you. If you’re making a more extended trip and your cat will be traveling with you, make sure your cat has access to food, water, and a litter box in the car.

Proper Safety Restraint in the Back Seat of Your Car

The responsibility of a dog owner is to make sure their dog is safe when traveling by car. The definition of restraint usually means that the dog doesn’t have the ability to interfere with the driver while you’re on the road. The type of restraint you use depends on the size of your dog and its temperament. Here are the best backseat restraints for dogs:


For larger dogs, a barrier is an excellent option. For SUV’s, trucks, and large model cars, a pet-resistant, barrier made of heavy-duty mesh is the ideal way to let your large dog enjoy the ride while keeping it safe.

Booster Seats

Booster seats can allow small dogs to see out the window without sticking their head out and potentially getting injured. You may want to use an additional harness to keep your dog safe, and in place, in the event, you must brake quickly.


If you have a large-breed dog who enjoys sitting on the back seat and watching the scenery as you drive, a harness with an attachment for the seat belt is an excellent option. One style that can keep your dog safely in place features a loop that goes over the shoulders that the seat belt can be looped through.

Transport Carriers

Transport carriers are like a den for a dog. To get them accustomed to the carrier before you’re on the road, put a bed in the carrier with a few treats and leave the door open so your dog can enter and leave the crate at will. For smaller dogs, the safest place to put a transport carrier is on the floor in the back of the front seat. If you should have to brake suddenly, the crate will get jostled around less than if you place it at the end of the car.

Problems with Having A Dog Loose in the Car

One of the primary reasons for not letting your dog be loose in the car is that if you’re involved in an accident or have to stop suddenly, the dog can become a projectile, which could potentially be fatal. Using a restraint or crate is the safest way to protect your dog while you’re on the road.

Why A Dog Shouldn’t Put Their Face Out the Window

A lot of people think their dog looks cute and so excited when they put their head out the car window. However, letting your dog put his face out the window of the car is a terrible idea.

When you’re traveling on the highway at speeds more than 65 mph, debris from the road can get hurled upward. A rock could shatter your windshield, and you and your dog could be seriously injured. A dog can’t withstand the impact of debris in the road hitting them.

Another problem is that breathing in rapidly rushing air could be harmful to a dog’s lungs. Keep the windows down enough so your dog can get fresh air but not so much that they can put their head out.

Never Leave Your Dog in a Hot Car

Each year thousands of pets die because they’re left in a hot car. Even with the windows cracked open on a warm day, temperatures inside the vehicle can reach 120 degrees, and your dog can die from the heat. Some states have passed Good Samaritan laws that allow someone to break the windows of a car to let a dog out of a hot car. The best thing to do is to leave your dog at home where it’s comfortable and cool.

Why A Dog Shouldn’t Sit in A Truck Bed

Although some dog owners see nothing wrong with letting their dog ride in the bed of their truck, an estimated 100,000 dogs die each year in accidents when they’re allowed to ride in the bed of their owner’s truck.

A dog that gets distracted and has a tendency to chase small animals could jump out of the truck if you hit the brakes suddenly or get involved in an accident. In a crash, your dog could be ejected from the truck and have serious injuries or worse.

Use of Kennels and Carriers

Your dog should always ride in the backseat as your children do. Airbags can go off and seriously injure children and pets. Always make sure to use restraint to keep your dog safe.

Want to Learn More?

Did learning about travel safety with pets interest you in becoming a vet tech? Ready to start a program to become a veterinary technician? With an associate degree in veterinary technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.

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