Transporting Dogs or Cats from Coast to Coast

Check your pet's carrier and make sure it's in good shape before your trip.
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Traveling across the country is a major event for you and your pets, whether you are moving or taking the animal to a new home. The logistics of transporting a dog or cat may seem overwhelming at first, but planning the trip in advance makes the process much easier.

Before Leaving

Take your pet to the veterinarian preceding your move. Most airlines require a signed certificate of health issued by your vet within 10 days of travel, so schedule the appointment accordingly if you are taking a plane. Fit your pet with a collar and identification tag, even if you're taking him in the car. Some owners also request microchips for their furry friends before traveling. Don't forget to bring your pet's medical documents, as well as his prescriptions in an easily-accessible bag. Take note of the location and contact number for emergency veterinary clinics along your route and at the destination.

Room and Board

If you are going by car, or if your plane has a lengthy layover, then it's your responsibility to find lodging that allows pets. Online utilities such as provide extensive databases of hotels that allow animals, so you can plan your stops ahead of time. Confirm your pet's accommodations with your selected hotel by phone to make sure they have pet-friendly rooms available. Parks, campgrounds and other public areas are also an option for an overnight stay, if you don't mind sleeping in your vehicle.

Road Trip

Bring a week's worth of pet food and bottled water with you, as well as bedding and toys. Don't forget small or portable litter pans for the kitty. Stop the car and let her out of the carrier to use the facilities every few hours. Don't set her loose until all windows and doors are shut. You don't want to spend hours digging through bushes and trees on the side of the highway to find your missing feline. Keep your dog on a leash and carry plastic bags when you take him for a walk.

In the Air

The speed of air travel makes it a tempting option for long-distance journeys, but it isn't the safest way to move your pet. In fact, stuffing your dog or cat into the cargo hold of an airplane should be a last resort, according to the Humane Society of the United States. If you choose to travel by plane, then look for flights that let you bring your dog into the cabin. Some airlines allow carriers in the passenger area, although this option is usually restricted to smaller pets. Contact the airline and ask about how they handle pets in the cargo hold if this option is not available. Make sure your dog will be traveling in a temperature-controlled environment and that he'll be moved with care by employees.

Other Transportation

Most alternate forms of transportation aren't particularly pet-friendly. Trains and buses rarely allow animals on board, which is why some owners send their pets to a destination through a dedicated pet shipping service. These services are available throughout the country. Keep in mind that these companies also require proof of vaccinations and a recent health certificate, and they may enforce other restricting policies as well.