Tips for traveling with your pet

LANGHORNE, Pa. - November 18, 2011 Little 'Silvestra' is one pampered cat. The feline is the center of the universe for her parents Domenico and Eleonora Mazzella. Every year, the couple travels back home to Italy for a lengthy stay and Silvestra goes too!

"You have the beauty of knowing she's in good hands and she's with you," said Eleonora.

To make things easier at the airport, Silvestra has her own passport of sorts.

"We did the passport with the picture," Eleonora explained.

The passport is really a collection of identifying documentation. It should include the pet's name, breed, color, age, country of origin, owner's information and all inoculations.

"Most countries are going to require a U.S.D.A. certified health certificate. That means that you have to have a veterinarian that's accredited with the U.S.D.A. and not all veterinarians are," said Dr. Cynthia Otto of Penn Veterinary Medicine.

That certificate needs to be issued no more than 21 days before you travel. Proof of a rabies vaccine is also a necessity and just showing the tag on their collar isn't enough.

"You also want to have your rabies certificate, the actual piece of paper that's been signed," said Dr. Otto.

During air travel, for pets that need to go in the cargo area, a secure crate is a must and needs to comply with the guidelines issued by the Department of Agriculture.

If the animal is flying inside the cabin, a soft carrier is good as long as it zips completely closed and the animal can stand up, turn around and lie down.

A crate is also a great way to travel when hitting the road. However, harnesses and seatbelt-like attachments can also be used.

Another good idea is to have your pet micro-chipped.

"That micro-chip has to be registered. So it doesn't help to just put in the chip without registering it with one of the organizations," said Dr. Otto.

Other travel tips include limiting their food and water right before the trip and make sure any blankets or toys give to them won't be choking hazards.

As far as using a tranquilizer Dr. Otto doesn't advise it.

"When you're giving a drug you're actually altering how that animal can respond," she explained. "If they did get car sick and they're kind of dopey from the drug they could end up actually aspirating that and they could end up with a bad pneumonia."

For more information:

Country regulations & airline regulations
State regulations
Pet travel by air
Pet travel by ferry or cruise
Pet travel by train or vehicle
Pet travel articles
Pet passport information

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