Southeast Texas is its own little slice of heaven, but if your travels take you and your four-legged friend beyond our region, you’ll want to avoid pet-related travel hazards. Ensure a smooth and successful journey with this Neighborhood Veterinary Centers guide to the most common pet-related travel risks and how you can avoid them.

#1: Distracted driving and pets

Unrestrained pets are one of the biggest contributors to distracted driving and accidents, and may be responsible for tens of thousands of accidents per year.

In an American Automobile Association (AAA) and Kurgo survey, 59% of drivers admitted to engaging in a distracting pet-related activity, such as petting or playing with their dog, offering food or water, and allowing a pet to sit in their lap. While these activities may seem benign, the AAA reports show that looking away from the road for as little as two seconds doubles your automotive crash risk. And, if that weren’t enough, unrestrained pets can become projectiles and be ejected during an accident or sudden braking, causing serious injury, or death, to themselves or humans.

Protect everyone in your car and others on the road by confining your pet to a crate, carrier, or seat belt during car travel. And, keep your eyes on the road.

#2: Pet [un]friendly accommodations 

Nothing is quite as bad as arriving at the ticket counter or reservation desk and discovering that your pet is not allowed to board or stay with you. 

Pet policies vary greatly between hotel and rental accommodations, transportation methods, and international destinations, so always do your research before finalizing your travel itinerary. Contact each airline, transit company, and accommodation directly (i.e., by phone, not online) and ask for a written copy of their pet policy. Call again prior to your departure to ensure nothing has changed that would bar your pet from traveling or staying with you.

If your pet requires updated vaccines, preventive medications, microchipping, or health certificates, schedule an appointment at Neighborhood Veterinary Centers several weeks before your departure, so you know that everything is in order and to prevent last-minute panic.

#3: Lost or escaped pets

Travel is an unusual experience for most pets and can trigger high excitement or intense fear. Sadly, these reactions are commonly the reasons why so many pets escape or run away while traveling. Excited or nervous pets quickly become disoriented since they are far from home, and put themselves at risk for serious injury, permanent separation from their owner, or death.

Protect your pet from this avoidable tragedy by ensuring they wear a collar and tags with their current information at all times. For the greatest peace of mind, your pet should be microchipped at your nearest Neighborhood Veterinary Centers location and the chip registered with a microchip database. Prevent your pet from slipping out of the car or leaving their hotel room with confinement with a seat belt, or in a crate or carrier, and ensuring they are secure before opening a door. Also, never allow your dog off-leash in an unsecure or unfamiliar area.

#4: Complaints about your pet 

When traveling with pets, what other people think matters. If fellow guests and travelers complain about your pet’s misbehavior, you may be asked to forfeit your reservations, disembark, leave the premises, or pay additional fines. Additionally, you will reflect badly on other pet-owning travelers, and others traveling with pets may have difficulty finding lodging or transport.

Demonstrate responsible pet ownership by ensuring everyone stays on their best behavior. Strategies include:

  • Providing positive distractions (e.g., food-stuffed toys, long-lasting chews) to deter barking
  • Keeping your dog on a non-retractable leash
  • Picking up after your pet
  • Crating your pet when you leave the room to prevent property damage

#5: Pet injuries and emergencies

Unexpected injuries and illnesses can bring your trip to a crashing halt. Ensure you’re prepared by packing a pet first aid kit and storing in your phone emergency numbers, including Neighborhood Veterinary Centers after-hours phone triage and support, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, and the nearest 24/7/365 veterinary emergency hospital to your destination. 

Traveling with pets can be an incredibly rewarding and memorable journey, but could be a hair-raising highway to you-know-where if you do not plan and take precautions. Take a moment between your packing and list-making to consider your pet’s needs and make the necessary arrangements.

For all your pet’s travel-related health and safety needs, or to microchip your pet, contact your nearest Neighborhood Veterinary Centers location.