The Ultimate Guide to Traveling With Pets (Part 5 out of 5: Food and Comfortable Journey)

Watch Your Pet’s Diet

Photo Credit: Lauren Tucker Photography

If you can keep to your pet’s accustomed diet for a while after arrival, it will help to avoid stomach upsets. Your pet will be out of sorts in unfamiliar territory, so changing up its diet could spell disaster. Here are some ways to keep your pet on course:

  • Dry Food: Depending on the mode of travel and destination, if you use a dried food, you can probably carry enough with you for a couple of weeks. You can also research the location to see if you can purchase some food upon your arrival, or even have it shipped there. Some hotels will have your pet’s favorite food on hand if you set things up ahead of time. In this case, planning is crucial.
  • Canned or Fresh Food: If you normally use canned or fresh food, it may be worth getting your pet used to a completely dry food diet before you travel. If they must have canned or fresh food, you will need to make sure you can either buy it or ship it to your final destination.
  • Seeds: If you plan to transport a bird or small animal that eats seeds, be sure to check the country you plan to go. Some places will not allow certain types of seeds into their country.

Your pet will most likely be hungry after the long trip, so do your best to ensure they have the food they need to keep them energetic and healthy.

Plan for Emergencies and the Unexpected

The U.S. Department of State recommends pet owners have an emergency plan in case they need to send their pets back home or leave them behind in the destination country. The plan should include:

  • Who to Call: Your contact information, as well as your veterinarian’s.
  • How to Care: Instructions about your pet’s care and feeding, including medications and preventative treatments.
  • Where to Stay: Contact details of at least 1 trusted person or facility with whom your pet could stay, both in the destination country and back at home.
  • How to Pay: Instructions on financial and medical resources your pet might need in an emergency situation and accessibility details, like phone numbers and hours of operation.

Keep Your Pet Calm and Comfortable During the Journey

Photo Credit: USFWS Mountain Prairie

You may be feeling stressed on the big travel day, but it is important your pet sees you as calm and collected. Here are some tips from the ASPCA to help make your journey go as smoothly as possible:

  • Talk to All the Airline Staff: Tell every airline employee or personnel that you have a pet traveling with you. If your pet is traveling in the cargo area of the plane instead of the cabin, you may want to confirm they have loaded your pet onboard. This is especially important if you and your pet take multiple connecting flights.

Sometimes airline staff will voluntarily approach pet owners on the plane once their pets have been loaded safely onboard, but this is not always the case. If you haven’t already been notified of your pet’s whereabouts before takeoff, don’t be afraid to politely request confirmation from the airline staff.

  • Keep Your Pet Hydrated and Fed, But Not Full: Just like their human counterparts, pets should not have heavy meals before flying. Feed your pet between 3-4 hours prior to leaving. Be sure to give your pet a bathroom opportunity close to departure time.

Just like humans, pets get dehydrated while traveling and during flights due to the plane’s air filtration system. If possible, give your pet some bottled water to drink during the flight, but not an excessive amount as that will increase the chance of a messy accident. If you are unable to monitor your pet’s in-flight hydration, you should ensure they get rehydrated immediately after the flight. Be aware that drinking water that comes from a place your pet isn’t used to can cause digestive problems.

On other modes of transportation, like buses and trains, water may not be easily accessible, so find out if you can carry bottled water for your pet. If not, make sure they have water on board for your pet. You will need to do your research to make sure your pet has all the necessities and is well-cared for, no matter what mode of transportation you choose.


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