International Pet Travel Country Questions

Pet Passport for International TravelTraveling internationally with a pet? Have questions about country requirements for entering with a pet?

  • Will my pet be quarantined?
  • What vaccinations does my pet need?
  • Will my pet need a passport?

Post your questions here and we will respond within 24 hours. You can also find information on international pet travel here: international pet travel

Airline Pet Policy Questions

airline pet policiesFlying with a pet?   Have questions regarding airline pet policy?

Need to know what type of carrier you will need?

What does your pet need to fly as cargo?

Will the airlines transfer your pet from one plane to another?

Post your questions here and we will respond within 24 hours. You can also find information here: airline pet policies.

Traveling with Snub-Nosed Dogs or Cats

snub-nosed Boston Terrier
Image courtesy of Pixabay

Traveling with a snub-nosed pet, whether in the car or in an airplane, can bring added risks that owners of these breeds should know about. These risks have brought on restrictions from many commercial airlines due to the number of snub-nosed dogs involved in incidents when flying in the cargo hold.

Which breeds are affected?

All snub-nosed or flat-faced breeds suffer with some degree of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). This is a condition that results from the foreshortening of the facial skeleton which is a mutation that is present in and required for the selective breeding of many dog breeds. The American Kennel Club identified the following breeds as being snub-nosed early on: Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pekingese, Pugs, Griffon Bruxellois, Japanese Chin, Boston Terrier and Shih Tzu. Further, the following breeds have been classified by many airlines to be at risk of flying in the cargo hold: Affenpinscher, American Staffordshire Terrier, Boxer, Cane Corso, Chow Chow, Dogue de Bordeaux, English Toy Spaniel, Japanese Chin, Lhasa Apso, Mastiff, Pekinese, Pitbulls, Shar Pei, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and Tibetian Spaniel.

Of these breeds, Pugs, French Bulldogs and Bulldogs have been found to be most at risk from BOAS. 

Affected cat breeds are Persian, Himalayan and Exotic Shorthair, as well as Netherlands Dwarf and Lionhead rabbits.

Restrictions get a bit gray with regard to mixes of these breeds. If you are considering flying with a dog or cat what is mixed with one the breeds listed above, then the length of your pet’s nose is important. If your pet has not inherited brachycephalic characteristics from its parents, then it is safer to fly them in the cargo hold. If you are in doubt, contact your airline and arrange to send an image of your pet for their approval. Get the approval in writing if you can as a written approval will help should any issues arise during check in.

Why do we love them?

Why are these breeds so attractive to pet owners? Perhaps the flattened face takes on more human-like appearance? The bulging eyes that some breeds exhibit are more expressive? The snores remind us of our sleeping habits? Whatever the reason, snub-nosed breeds are in high demand, especially the French Bulldog which just took the place of the Labrador and the most popular breed.

Why is traveling risky for snub-nosed breeds and their crosses?

Because the length of the muzzle is so short in snub-nosed breeds, soft tissue blocks the airways in the nose and throat impeding airflow in dogs or cats at a young age and progressively worsens as the pet ages. Additionally, the condition is aggravated when the dog or cat is exercising or under stress as is the case when traveling. Increased respiratory efforts can lead to a collapse of the airway which is why owners of these breeds must take great care when transporting them.

A snub-nosed dog or cat will have a muzzle length less than half of its cranial length. This measurement is defined as the length from the occipital protuberance (crown of the head) to the stop (base, not tip, of the nose).

Generally, this condition is commonly but not exclusively accompanied by a thicker neck girth, nasal fold, wide chest, extended elbows, snorting, snoring and sleep apnea.

Studies have found that obesity will increase the degree that these breeds will suffer from BOAS. This is why it is really important to keep your pup at its ideal weight if it is to travel.

Crosses of these breeds can be similarly affected. Remember, it is not necessarily whether your pet is a purebred member of these breeds; it is the length of the muzzle and the presence of other snub-nosed characteristics that count.

What can owners of snub-nosed breeds do to travel safely with their snub-nosed dogs and cats?

Obviously, ground transport is much safer than air transport for these breeds. If this is not possible, then consider the Queen Mary 2 if you need to get to Europe. If flying is the only alternative, then in-cabin is much preferred to cargo transport. If your snub-nosed dog or cat is too large to fly in the cabin and must fly in the cargo hold, then avoid summer months at all cost as higher temperatures increase the amount of breathing that your dog or cat must do to keep cool.

Hydration is incredibly important and can’t be stressed enough. Whether your snub-nosed dog or cat is traveling by car or in the air, it must have adequate water available.

If you are driving, keep the air conditioning running and the windows up so that the air in the vehicle is cool. Stop often and make sure to offer your pet water every time you stop.

If you are flying with your pet in the cabin, be sure and get a bottle of water after passing security and use a packable water bowl or ask for a glass of ice from the flight attendant. Try offering it to your pet by extending your hand in the carrier being sure not to let your pet escape.

If your pet is flying as air cargo, get the largest water bowl you can find to attach to the crate door, fill it with water the night before you leave and freeze it. You can find large pet crate water bowls by clicking here. You can also consider training your dog or cat to use a water bottle as well. Confirm that your airline will check your pet’s water bowl during layovers.

Owners of snub-nosed breeds can also consider an herbal pet calmer to ease stress which causes excessive breathing.

Be sure and plan ahead when traveling with a snub-nosed dog or cat. Acclimating it to its carrier or crate will cause less stress on travel day and make it easier for both of you to enjoy your trip.

You can find more information about snub-nosed pet studies here.

Microchips for Dogs & Cats: Why should you microchip your pet?

pet microchip

Why do we love our pets? It could be because their love and loyalty is so unconditional. Whether we have had a good day or bad, they are always there offering support. In return, they trust in us to provide for them.

Identification Technology is crucial in the pet world whether it involves competition, shelter, travel, or animal control. As our pets cannot speak for themselves, it is our obligation as owners to protect them should they get lost. Microchipping allows for identification that cannot be removed or misplaced. Better yet, the microchip is readable beyond the life of your pet ensuring that a dog, cat, ferret or horse that needs to be identified for whatever reason, will be.

Obviously, our pets need to be fed, exercised, trained and loved. They also need to be identified should they become separated from you or, worse yet, stolen.

An open door, a hole under a fence or a simple distraction like a squirrel is all it can take for your pet to bolt. As many as 80% of unidentifiable pets are never reunited with their owners should they get lost. If that doesn’t disrupt your peace of mind, we’re not sure what will.

Additionally, if you are planning a move or travel internationally, your pet should absolutely be microchipped. Most of the world’s countries require this form of pet identification on import documents, and a microchip can help avoid issues when clearing customs in a foreign country.

What is a microchip?

A pet microchip is the most permanent form of pet identification available today. A microchip is a small, passive, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder. It is about the size of a grain of rice. It is implanted painlessly by your veterinarian on the left side of the neck, behind the ear.

There are several different types of microchips on the market in the United States. The 15-digit ISO* 11784 compliant pet microchip is the world standard. Most countries require this type of pet microchip for entry. Even if you don’t plan to travel with your pet, animal control agencies in cities and towns in your country have microchip scanners that can read a microchip, and that is the first thing they will do when finding a lost pet.

*The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) develops and publishes worldwide standards for radio frequencies. This means that, if your pet is lost in any foreign country, officials can read your pet’s chip as it will transmit in a frequency that can be recognized by universal scanners in any country.

Are microchips safe for my pet?

Yes, microchips are perfectly safe for all pets. They are an inert, passive device that does not transmit any signal unless scanned by a microchip scanner.

Microchips are not tracking devices. They do not store your pet’s medical or personal information. They only store a unique number which identifies the manufacturer of the chip as well as a series of other numbers that are individually assigned to your pet. The number is unique worldwide, is permanent, and cannot be altered.

Datamars is one of the foremost manufacturers of the ISO 11784 compliant 15-digit pet microchips. The Microfindr™ Slim Chip is as small as a thin grain of rice and weighs a fraction of standard glass microchips.

RELATED: More details about pet microchips

How is a microchip implanted?

Your veterinarian will implant your pet’s chip with a preloaded syringe during a regular veterinary visit without aesthesia. As the chip is implanted just under the skin, there is no pain associated with the procedure. Because it is important to implant the chip properly so it can be read, it should only be done by a veterinarian or veterinary technician. The microchip should be scanned before and after implantation to ensure it works and is implanted properly.

Pet owners should check their pet at the implantation site to make sure there are no complications or infections. These conditions are rare but they can happen.

How can my pet’s microchip be read?

There are basically two types of microchip scanners on the market. Forward reading scanners can only read 15 digit microchips. Universal microchip scanners are both forward and backward reading and can scan non-ISO 11784 microchips as well as those that are ISO 11785 compliant. A simple push of a button while moving the scanner slowly over the back of your pet’s neck will produce a number which is unique to your pet, and in no way hurts your pet.

Pet owners of overweight or long-haired pets may need to repeat the process several times before an accurate read can be obtained. Removing your pet’s collar can also contribute to a quicker read. High quality universal scanners like the Datamars Compact Max, Omni Max or HomeAgain Worldscan are all known for their fast and accurate scans.

Register your pet’s microchip

After microchipping your pet, the next step is registration. Don’t skip this step!!

Many manufacturers have their own database with owner contact information associated with every microchip number. Some manufacturers charge pet owners for registering, but most do not.

If the manufacturer of your pet’s microchip does not have a registry, there are many websites that offer registration for free. Examples are,,,, and

Registration information can include your pet’s physical attributes, rabies vaccination date and number, disabilities, medical conditions, daily medications, and veterinary information to assist control officials finding pets who may have medical needs. Clients can upload a photo of their pets for free with most registration databases.

Datamars’ database can be found at and provide pet owners who get their registered microchip are offered free registration and unlimited changes to their contact information. They also issue email reminders to check and update your contact information.

Remember to keep your information up to date

Whenever you relocate or travel, take a minute to check your pet’s information. Entering your cell phone number is essential as this will likely not change when your life changes. Pet birthdays are a great time to remember to update your pet’s information.

If you are traveling overseas and your cell phone will not be functioning, contact the administrator of the database and ask that a note be put in your pet’s file with a temporary phone or email address.

Will anyone be able to see my contact information?

No, your privacy is protected with microchip registration companies. Simply put, the information that you enter in the manufacturer’s database will be used by database administrators to contact you should your pet become lost or separated from you. Your contact information is not accessible by the public.

Have your pet’s microchip scanned regularly

Every time you take your pet to your veterinarian, have them scan your pet’s microchip to make sure it is functioning properly and has not migrated in their body. Migrations are uncommon occurrences, but they do happen. Should the chip move and is unable to be scanned, your vet can implant another chip on the other side of your pet’s neck. Having two microchips is perfectly okay; just keep your contact information for both chips up to date.

Microchip scanners operate at various frequencies (125 kHz, 128 kHz, and 134.2 kHz). The standard frequency for ISO 11784 microchips is 134.2 kHz. There are universal scanners that will detect all microchip frequencies, and they are widely available today. Pet owners who travel frequently should consider investing in a microchip scanner to ensure that their pet can be properly identified.

Pet Identification

The concept of pet identification is quite simple but often misunderstood. It is the pet owner’s responsibility to be sure that their pet can be identified if they get lost. Be sure and stay current on microchip registration information. If you plan to relocate or switch phone numbers, update your pet’s registration information with your cell phone number.

RELATED: Happy stories of pets lost, sold or stolen reunited with their owners

Other useful tips

  • Keep rabies tags on your pet
  • Keep a collar ID tag on your pet with your current address and phone number
  • Keep the pet microchip manufacturer’s tag on your pet if they have one
  • Always keep a picture of your pet handy (better yet, one of you and your pet) in the case that identification is necessary.

Identifying your pet is a simple thing. Ask your veterinarian about implanting a microchip for your dog, cat, ferret or horse. Most importantly, don’t forget to register your contact information!

Why is it important to microchip your pet? Simply put, microchipping your pet could mean the difference between finding or losing your pet if it is lost or stolen. This is a small, painless step toward keeping your pet safe at home or on the road.

Airline Cargo Pet Crates: Is Your Dog or Cat Crate IATA Compliant?

pet crate

Pet Travel is all about keeping your dog, cat or other pet safe. Although commercial airlines have stringent rules in place regarding live animals, pet owners should do all they can to provide a crate that withstand handling and offer every protection available for their pet. The first step is to get an airline cargo pet crate that is both airline and IATA compliant to keep their pet safe during their journey.

If you already have a crate for your pet, here are the requirements that your airline will be looking for when you check in your pet. If you do not have a crate, consider a Petmate Sky Kennel as this crate conforms to IATA Live Animal Regulations and is one of the best premanufactured kennels available today.

What is IATA and why are their regulations important?

Over 95% of commercial airlines operating today adhere to the Live Animal Regulations (LAR) of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). If your dog or cat will be flying in the cabin or cargo hold of a commercial airplane, then the pet crate it will travel in will be subject to these regulations for the movement of live animals. Your pet will also be subject to Animal Welfare regulations which vary depending on the country in which your airline is based.

For this article, we focus on crate requirements for cargo travel in an aircraft and premanufactured plastic crates as they are the most available to pet owners.

What are the IATA requirements for airline cargo pet crates?

Your pet’s crate must be a closed container made of fiberglass, metal, rigid plastic, solid wood or plywood. This article will address rigid, plastic pet crates only. The specs for wooden crates depend on the animal being transported.

Measure your pet

The first step to consider when getting a pet crate is to measure your pet. If you have a crate from a previous trip, make sure that your pet still fits in the crate and has not grown out of it. This is one of the first things that airline representatives will check for, and they will deny boarding if your pet’s crate is not appropriate for its size.

Note: If your pet is a snub-nosed breed, it will need one crate larger than normally required that will offer additional ventilation.

Your cat or dog must be able to stand up and turn around comfortably in the crate. Their ears (if erect) or the top of their head must not touch the top of the crate when they stand on their pet crate’s pad. The length of the crate must accommodate their body length when standing.

RELATED:  More details on measuring your pet for its crate.

Crate Structure is essential

Your pet crate must be well constructed and able to withstand freight activities. Your dog or cat is most at risk during travel if your crate is damaged allowing your pet to escape.

pet crate cornersAll hardware required to secure both halves of the crate must be present and installed. Most crates come with sturdy plastic hardware. Most airlines will require that your pet’s crate be secured with metal hardware.

Openings should be present on each corner of the crate allowing the door to be zip-tied closed. The door of the crate must also be zip-tied closed after the interior of your crate is inspected by airline representatives.

The interior of your dog or cat crate must have no sharp edges or protrusions that could cause injury to your pet. Do not put any toys, chews or other items in the crate with your pet.

The floor of the crate must be clean, leak-proof and solid. Absorbent bedding such as a pet pad or shredded newspaper must be provided. Pet owners should be aware of restrictions imposed on their destination country – straw, litter or wood chips should be avoided. Wheels must be disabled or removed prior to check-in.

Crate ventilation is crucial

The sides of your pet’s crate must be solid with adequate openings over the upper two thirds of the crate measuring a minimum of 1″ (2.5 cm) for ventilation. Openings must be 4″ (10 cm) apart (center to center). There must also be ventilation holes on the fourth (back) side if your dog or cat is traveling internationally.

pet crate forklift riser ridgeOn larger crates where the total weight exceeds 132 pounds (60 kg), then 2″ thick (5cm) forklift spacers running down the sides of the crate are required. Smaller crates should be equipped with handles or means for handlers to move the crate safely.

The roof of your pet crate must also be strong. Ventilation holes on the top of the crate should be avoided as they can compromise the strength of the roof.

Crate doors should be impossible for even the sneakiest of pets to open

Doors are the greatest vulnerability of any pet crate. Not only are they an external part of the crate, their mechanisms will be the most likely to fail should the crate be mishandled. For these reasons, IATA is very specific about crate door requirements.

pet crate door hingesOne end of the crate must be fully open for a door which can be sliding or hinged. Thick, welded metal mesh must have openings that are nose and paw proof. This will mean openings in the mesh of no more than 3/4″ (19mm) for cats and 1″ (25mm) for dogs. The door can also be made of plastic if the hinges and locking pins are metal and there is no way your dog or cat can compromise the strength of the crate door. The door hinge and locking pins must be seated in the container a minimum of 5/8″ (1.6 cm) above and below the door opening.

NOTE: If your pet is flying with British Airways, mesh must be secured to the door of the crate and attached over the ventilation holes to provide additional “paw and nose” protection. Your agent should be aware of this and can assist you in complying with this additional requirement.

Water/food bowls must be present and accessible to handlers to refill. Bowls that attach to the door of the crate are ideal for this purpose and work best on rigid, plastic pet crates.

Crates must be labeled with Live Animal Stickers as well as a Shipper’s Declaration sticker with feeding and watering instructions.

RELATED: Acclimating your pet to its crate

See more information on CR 82 crates for dangerous dog breeds.

Take a moment to consider how important your pet’s airline cargo crate is to the safety of your pet. This is not a part of your budget where you want to cut corners. When you are sitting in the cabin thinking about your pet flying in the cargo hold, you want to know that you have done everything you can to keep your pet safe. The airlines will do the rest.

All crates and accessories mentioned here can be found at

Puppy Scams – Don’t be a victim!

Dachshund puppyThinking of buying a puppy or kitten or other pet? Cruising on the internet and see an adorable picture of a puppy or kitten for sale? Don’t fall for the hardship stories and the cute pictures. Puppy scammers as well as those scamming people for all types of pets have made millions off of good people who want to add a pet to their family, and thought it would be easy to transport it, sometimes hundreds of miles across many countries.

Puppy scams netted in excess of $3.3 million in 2020 and $3 million in 2021 to be exact, according to the BBB Scam Tracker. The figure for 2022 is on track for $2 million. As potential pet owners become more aware of the devious tactics of online pet scammers, the figure falls, but that only encourages scammers to be better at what they do.

A 2019 survey by the American Pet Products Association estimates that as many of 36% of all pets purchased are done so via the Internet. Considering this venue is rift with posers and autonomous individuals who can pretend to be anyone they want, this is a very risky marketplace to purchase a pet. But there are things that you can do to avoid being the victim of a puppy scam (or any other animal).

Here are some tips to look out for when dealing with people on the internet who say they will deliver you a pet:

  • Hardship stories about how they can no longer care for the puppy, kitten or other pet.
  • Poor use of English.
  • Inability to contact the seller by phone.
  • Changes of email address.
  • Requests for personal information.
  • Seller offers the pet for free; you simply have to pay a nominal charge for shipping.
  • Seller requests money for an air conditioned crate or “pressurized vaccination”.
  • Tells you that you will need pet insurance to transport your pet (not required nor is it necessary nor available in most countries).
  • Saying that you cannot pick up the animal; it must be delivered, and they can arrange to deliver it to your door. (This would require the use of an agent which would add to the cost.)
  • Seller is not familiar with pet import regulations for your country, if shipping internationally.
  • Seller sends you a detailed and colorful form with all sorts of details and company logos on it.
  • The deal is too good to be true.

Here are some things that you can do to ensure you are working with a legitimate person:

  • Ask for licensing information if the seller claims to be a breeder. It is common practice for commercial breeders to be licensed. Find more information on pet licensing in the United States here.
  • Ask for the seller’s website, Facebook, Twitter or other social media page if they claim to be a breeder.
  • Do some internet research and see if others have posted experiences with the person you are dealing with.
  • Do a search for an average value for the breed you are consider buying. If the seller’s price deviates from this price, this can be a red flag.
  • Ask to see a picture of the puppy or kitten with its Mother and the rest of the litter. Demand to see the veterinary certificate and contact the veterinarian to confirm they have cared for the puppy or kitten.
  • Do a reverse image search* on Google on the image that the seller sends to you.
  • Tell the seller that you would like to pick up the puppy or kitten (even if you cannot do this, if  the response to your request is not positive, beware)
  • Try to set up a video call with the seller so you can see both them and the puppy or kitten.
  • Ask to meet whomever is delivering the puppy or kitten in a public place so that you can examine the puppy or kitten before paying for it. Do not give out your home address.
  • If the seller mentions a shipping company, verify with that shipping company that they have a reservation to transport your puppy or kitten.
  • Know that puppies and kittens must be vaccinated to enter any country in the world and they cannot be vaccinated for rabies prior to 3 months of age and must wait for 21-30 days minimum to enter the country.
  • Ask if the seller accepts credit cards. Remember that, if you wire money or send a cash card number, you have to recourse to recover it. Never pay in advance if at all possible.
  • Know the requirements for pets to enter your country. Ask the seller for details about all the forms they will need to fill out so that your puppy can enter your country. The US does not even allow puppies intended for re-homing to enter the country before 6 months of age.

*Reverse Image Search on a desktop:

  • In a Google Chrome browser – right click on the image and select Search for Image on Google
  • On any browser – go to and click the camera icon (Search by Image) then upload or drag and drop the image you have received from the seller into Google Lens

Reverse Image Search on a mobile device:

  • Open a web browser and click the Google Icon or type in The camera icon will appear to the right of the search bar which will allow you to access Google lens and search for the image.
  • If the camera icon does not appear, see if there is a link above the search bar that says “images”. If this is not available, then look for three dots “…” and click and select Request Desktop Site. This will take you to the Google search bar with the camera icon.

Find your country’s pet import regulations and know that it is very risky to fly puppies and kittens in the cargo hold of an airplane. They need to develop their respiratory systems to fly safely. The older they are, the better the chances they will arrive safely.

Try rescue foundations in your country before buying a pet from another country. The love you will receive will be just as rewarding if not more so than the risk you will be taking by sending money for a pet that may never come.

If you are a victim of a scam, then contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): to file a complaint online or call 877-FTC-Help (US residents) or report to

Related: Don’t be a victim of a pet scam

Don’t be a victim of pet scams. Know the steps to take before sending any money to determine whether you are dealing with someone who is trustworthy.

Emotional Support and Service Animals – Airline Policies and How They are Changing

emotional support dog on airplane


Airline pet policies on flying with emotional support and service animals are changing, and now the Department of Transportation (DOT) has implemented changes to the Airline Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and its regulation, 14 CFR Part 382 (Part 382) in order to address the issues that airlines have recently been facing – lack of training, the use of false credentials and the variety of animal species whose owners claim protection under this legislation.

During the process of collecting public comment, DOT permitted the airlines to specify what type of animals they will allow as emotional support animals and those they will not. An airline group, Airlines for America, is suggesting that service animals be defined as “trained dogs that perform a task or work for an individual with a disability,” which would eliminate untrained emotional support animals from flying under the ACAA. This is the definition that the ACAA has now adopted. the definitions which is aligned with the Americans with Disabilities Act, specifically defines this classification as dogs only. Cats, miniature horses and other animals are no longer offer protections under this act.

Some of the other changes that were considered include policies that would distinguish between different types of animals, whether or not that they will need to travel in pet carriers, whether to limit the number of animals allowed per passenger, ease of reservations and booking for trained service animals. liability for damage caused by service animals, and whether to require all service animals be trained to behave in a public setting.

Currently, Title 14 Code of Federal Aviation Regulations – 382.117 dictates that the airline “must permit the service animal to accompany the passenger with a disability at any seat in which the passenger sits, unless the animal obstructs an aisle or other area that must remain unobstructed to facilitate an emergency evacuation. Airlines may choose not to transport service and emotional support animals that are not socialized and trained to behave properly in close surroundings. Pet owners are expected to control their animals at all times when flying.

What is unclear is the species of the animal protected by this legislation, the type of disability, and the amount of information that must be disclosed to the airlines. Because of these gray areas, many of these protections have been extended to those who may not not truly qualify for them. These are the areas that the amendment clarifies.

UPDATE: August 8, 2019
The Department of Transportation has issued a clarification to the ACAA in response to airline restrictions made for ESAs. The DOT rulings addressed the following points:

  • Airlines cannot discriminate against certain breeds of ESAs (as Delta did against Pit Bulls)
  • Airlines cannot dictate the duration of the flight that ESAs would be allowed.
  • Airlines must allow up to 3 assistance animals per passenger, however they can limit the number of ESAs to one.
  • Airlines must allow miniature horses as service animals on their flights. (This is not a new rule.)

Later this year (2019), the Department of Transportation plans to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on service (and emotional support) animals. The NPRM would address the definition of a service animal and include safeguards to ensure safety for other passengers and flight crews. Additionally, the changes would reduce the likelihood that passengers traveling with their pets on aircraft will not be able to falsely claim their pets are service or emotional support animals when they are not. More information on this to come.

UPDATE: January 22, 2020
The Department of Transportation has issued a Notice of Rulemaking Change (NRMC) regarding several amendments to the Airline Carrier Access Act. The first would be to align the definition of a service animal to that defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act which is published by the Department of Justice (DOJ) which specifies a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.

Additionally, the amendment will require that all passengers flying with service dogs submit forms developed by DOT in advance of travel which will reflect pre-training and socialization. All service animals will need to be “harnessed, leashed or otherwise tethered.” Larger service animals and effects to in-cabin operations and the safety and welfare of other passengers and the crew will be considered as well as who is responsible for the damage they may cause to the aircraft. More information on the NRMC.?

UPDATE DECEMBER 2, 2020: The United States Department has issued a final ruling. with changes to the air transport of emotional support animals. Find it here. Basically, the ruling defines a service animal as a dog who is “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” The final rule also gives the passenger the responsibility for caring for the service dog’s health needs, especially on longer flights. Additionally, the airlines may request supporting documentation from the passenger ahead of check in. A form published by the DOT attesting to the service dog’s health, behavior and training must be completed and submitted to all US-based airlines prior to flight. The form is available here.

Service animals must be “harnessed, leashed, or otherwise tethered” at all times while in the aircraft and the owner is responsible for any damage incurred by the service dog. This ruling will go into effect January 1, 2021.

For the purposes of this post, service dogs are defined as animals who have been trained to assist physically disabled passengers suffering from mobility issues, visual impairments, seizures, hearing issues, issues resulting from diabetes or other physical issues. Emotional support animals are those who assist passengers with emotional, psychiatric, cognitive or psychological disabilities and have not received specialized training for the assistance they provide.

On all airlines, service dogs should be fully trained, clearly identified and leashed or harnessed. They will sit at their handler’s feet without protruding into the aisle or causing other safety concerns. If they are small enough, they may sit in their handler’s lap.?

The airlines can limit the number of service dogs accompanying a disabled passenger to two. The legislation is not breed-specific and the airlines cannot ban certain dog breeds from flying as trained service dogs.

Service animals in training may or may not be accepted by an airline under these regulations. Trained service dogs accompanied by their trainers and being delivered to their owners also may or may not fall under these regulations depending on airline policies. Therapy animals, rescue dogs and dogs providing immigration services such as drug or bomb detection are not accepted under these regulations.

THIS PARAGRAPH APPLIES TO AIRLINES THAT RECOGNIZE ESA ANIMALS AS OF THIS DATE. Emotional support animals are permitted to sit in their owner’s laps if small enough not to touch any part of the seat and do not interfere or prevent other passengers from using seat amenities. They should be socialized and trained to behave around other people and pets, especially in small confines. Their owners should travel with proper documentation clearly identifying their licensed physician or medical professional, stating that they have a documented condition listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that necessitates that their pet travel with them and dated within a year of flight departure.

Animals are not permitted to sit in exit row seats. They are not permitted to fly in the seat next to their owner. They are not permitted to sit on the tray table. Owners should be prepared to demonstrate that they are prepared to handle the service dog’s hygienic needs on flights over 8 hours in duration. Some airlines will require that a sanitation form is completed prior to travel. This form has been released by the DOT and is available here.

Additionally, notification must be provided and permission granted in advance for countries that require that all live animals arriving by air to arrive as checked baggage or air cargo in the hold of the aircraft. (United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, India, New Zealand and others) The provision of this notice must be the same for disabled passengers as it is for other passengers (on-line and in-person).

It is also important to note that both service and emotional support animals are subject to the same requirements when flying internationally as other animals of their species. Owners should be prepared to present rabies and health certificates and all other documentation required by the airline or their destination country upon check-in.

Here are some of the new (and old) regulations regarding service and emotional support animals. For the most part, regulations concerning service dogs have not changed. Note that we will make every attempt to update this post when regulations change. We will also be adding addendums to this post with regulations from other airlines.

Delta Airlines

UPDATE: Delta no longer accepts emotional support animals of any kind. Handlers of service dogs must provide US DOT forms more than 48 hours before flight. Dog breed bans have been removed.

UPDATE: The Department of Transportation has rejected Delta’s ban of Pit Bulls as service or emotional support animals as their regulations do not address specific dog breeds. Note that the airline may still reject any dog that shows aggressive behavior.

UPDATE: Delta no longer recognizes emotional support animals. Dogs and cats small enough to fit in an airline-compliant pet carrier will be permitted to fly in the cabin. Charges will apply. Service dogs can fly in-cabin free of charge. DOT forms must be submitted.

United Airlines

Update: United Airlines no longer accepts emotional support animals of any kind. Dogs and cats small enough to fit in an airline-compliant pet carrier will be permitted to fly in the cabin. Charges will apply. Handlers of service dogs must provide US DOT forms more than 48 hours before flight.

American Airlines

Update: American Airlines no longer accepts emotional support animals of any kind. Dogs and cats small enough to fit in an airline-compliant pet carrier will be permitted to fly in the cabin. Charges will apply.Handlers of service dogs must provide US DOT forms more than 48 hours before flight.

Air France

Guide (service) dogs are accepted as long as they are clearly marked and remain leashed. Notification 48 hours in advance is required.

Air France will require that owners of service dogs provide notification at least 48 hours in advance. Dogs must be over 12 months of age and identified with a tag or harness. Dogs must be leashed at all times. 


Service dogs (guide dogs, hearing dogs, diabetic alert dogs, seizure alert dogs) can fly in the cabin with their handlers on non-stop flights to or from the United States. For flights outside of the United States, a training certificate from a recognized training institute should be submitted in advance to the Lufthansa Medical Operation Centre via email or the Lufthansa Service Center. You will receive notice of approval from Lufthansa.

Lufthansa no longer recognizes emotional support animals.

Within 48 hours of flight departure, your service or emotional support dog must be registered with the centers referenced above and a medical certificate issued by a licensed physician confirming the need for you to be accompanied by an emotional support dog must be presented. You will receive notification of approval from Lufthansa. Two copies of this form must be presented at check-in.

Air Canada

All service dogs must be accompanied with an identification or card or other written document and be clearly identified. Notification must be provided a minimum of 48 hours prior to departure.

Emotional support dogs are no longer recognized on Air Canada. 

British Airways

All service dogs must have been trained to assist a disabled person and certified by an organization that is a member of Assistance Dogs International or International Guide Dog Federation. Notification should be provided at least 7 days in advance.?British Airways does not recognize emotional support animals.


Emirates will transport guide dogs for the blind in the cabin free of charge. Forty eight hour notice must be provided when traveling with a guide dog. Emotional support animals are not recognized.


JetBlue accepts trained service dogs only. Dogs must file DOT forms (above) at least 48 hours in advance of travel and submit them here. Dogs cannot occupy a seat. They must sit at their handler’s feet or lap (only if small enough) and cannot sit in an exit row. Maximum of 2 service dogs per passenger.

Southwest Airlines emotional support policy

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines will accept only accept service dogs in the cabin at no charge on domestic and international flights. US DOT forms will be required.

Dogs who are trained to assist passengers with physical or psychiatric disability are the only animals that will be accepted as service dogs.

Passengers are encouraged to notify Southwest Airlines that they are flying with a service dog and US DOT forms will be required.

Emotional Support Animals Spirit AirlinesSpirit Airlines

Service dogs that perform a task(s) to assist with deafness or hard of hearing, seizures, mobility limitations, limited vision, or other disabilities are accepted on Spirit Airlines flights at no charge. Passengers will be asked to provide a verbal description of the task that the service dog provides for them. Harnesses, vests, ID Cards or registration letters are no longer accepted.

Passengers with service dogs must submit DOT forms (see above) here more than 48 hours ahead of travel.

Therapy and service dogs in training are not covered under Spirit Airlines’ service dog policies.

Allegiant Airlines

Allegiant will permit trained service dogs in the cabin free of charge. They provide identification cards, tags, or other written documentation; harnesses or markings on harnesses or the credible verbal assurances of the individual with a disability using the animal. Owners will also need to submit a Veterinary Health Form at check in.

Notification at least 48 hours is required. The following information must be submitted, then a Service Animal ID will be issued.

  • Veterinarian’s name and contact number
  • Rabies vaccination date and expiration
  • Trainer’s name/organization and contact number

After booking their flight, disabled passengers must request travel for their service dog here.

Swiss Airlines

Swiss Airlines will only permit certified service dogs on their flights. Prior notification must be given when flights meet or exceed 8 hours.

TAP Portugal

TAP Portugal Airlines

TAP Portugal Airlines accepts guide dogs flying in the cabin with their owners at no charge. In either case, notification must be provided to TAP Portugal’s Service Center.

Guide, hearing and service dogs must be properly identified as service dogs and with documented evidence that they have been officially trained and certified. Passengers must complete this form at least 48 hours prior to departure. Dogs must be identified, sit at their handler’s seat and carry liability insurance.



KLM will allow assistance dogs to fly in the cabin at no charge. All dogs must be leashed and should be wear a harness or vest. Note that service dogs that assist with mental health conditions are only permitted on flights to or from the United States. Emotional support animals are not permitted.

Owners of assistance dogs need to submit this form to KLM prior to departure and bring original document with them. All assistance dogs must be presented at the check-in desk on the day of travel.

All assistance dogs must have all required documentation for their destination country.

Contact +31 800-55622737 for more information.

Singapore Airlines service and emotional support policySingapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines will allow service and emotional support dogs to fly in the cabin at no charge on all flights where destination countries will allow pets to enter in the cabin. Dogs must fly at your feet without affecting cabin operations. Muzzles and leashes are not required but should be available.

All service dogs should be marked with a vest or harness or other items such as an identification card identifying it as a service dog.

If your dog is an emotional support animal, you must carry documentation on the letterhead of a licensed medical professional dated within the past year supporting the need for your ESA. ESAs must be at least 4 months of age, properly trained to behave around other passengers. They will fly at passengers’ feet and not encroach on other passengers. The following will apply:

Signed statement from a licensed mental health professional no older than one year prior to your flight date stating:

– passengers who have a mental or emotional disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and is under his or her professional care
– passengers need the emotional support dog for air travel and/or for activities at your destination
– passengers must have license information of the mental health professional (issue date, license type, and jurisdiction and state where it was issued)

No dogs included in Singapore Airlines’ banned breed list (see step #13) will be accepted as service or emotional support animals. The following breeds must be muzzled and leashed or harnessed:

  • Akita
  • Boerboel
  • Bull Terrier
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • German Shepherd Dog, Belgian Shepherd Dog, East European Shepherd Dog
  • Mastiffs, including Bull Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff, Cane Corso and Dogue De Bordeaux
  • Perro De Presa Canario
  • Pit Bull, including American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bulldog
  • Rottweiler
  • Tosa

Owners of service and emotional support animals should contact Singapore Airlines at least 2 weeks prior to departure.



Aeroflot will permit guide dogs assisting physically disabled passengers to fly in the cabin at no charge. The passenger must present a proof of disability and a document certifying the dog?s training.?If the working dog is a member of the Federal Executive Authority Canine Service, the passenger accompanying the dog must present a document certifying the special training of the working dog as well as a document proving that the passenger transporting the working dog is an employee of the Federal Executive Authority Canine Service.

Emotional support animals are not recognized.

Alaska AirlinesAlaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines will accept your service and emotional support animal without charge.

Passengers should inform the customer service representative when arriving at the airport that they are flying with a service animal. Service animals must fly at their handler’s feet and behave appropriately. Dogs, cats and miniature horses are accepted as service animals.

Reservations must take place at least 48 hours in advance. Passengers can start the process here. Once you receive a SATS Service Animal ID, then you can request airline booking with a service animal.

Frontier Airlines LogoFrontier

Service dogs and fully trained psychiatric service dogs are welcome to fly on Frontier Airlines flights without charge. One service dog per passenger and dogs must be at least 4 months of age. Passengers must complete the DOT form and upload it here.

Frontier will not recognize comfort animals, companionship animals, or any other non task-trained animals as service animals

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines will fly service dogs free of charge. For flights to or from the United States, DOT forms must be submitted at least 48 hours in advance to [email protected] and [email protected]

On flights to or from other locations, the following must be submitted:

  • A written statement issued by a veterinarian
  • A written statement describing the procedures implemented by the passenger to prevent the dog from relieving itself
  • A signed statement with photographs or other illustrations of the dog’s ability to relieve itself without posing a health or sanitation problem
  • A letter of undertaking stating that, should the dog relieve itself accidentally, the affected area will be thoroughly cleaned by the dog’s owner (please bring bags, napkins, wipes, etc.). All damages that may arise during travel are the passenger’s responsibility.

Service dogs must be fully trained, clean and marked as service dogs and have proof of training and certification. All relevant documentation for the destination country is required. 

In the case of a service dog, all dogs must be leashed and fly at their owner’s feet. No pets are allowed to fly on a seat. A muzzle must be available should any aggressiveness be displayed. On flights over 8 hours, owners must be able to provide written instructions regarding how they have prepared for their dog to relieve itself.  Owners also are responsible for any damage caused to the aircraft by their service animal.

All rabies vaccination certificates and documentation from exporting and importing countries must be available at check-in.

Vueling Airlnes LogoVueling Airlines

Vueling Airlines only recognizes assistance animals trained to serve special needs. Certification of training must be provided to staff at check-in. Dogs must be at least 3 months old. Dogs must have proof of rabies vaccination no sooner than 3 months of age and more than 30 days prior to travel. Contact their service center for more details.

If your airline is not listed above, you can contact us at [email protected] with any questions.


Pet Travel: How to Clear Airport Security with a Pet

Clearing airport security with a pet
iStock Photo

You and your pet are traveling in the cabin of an airplane together. You have checked in at the reservation desk, your pet is quietly lying down in their airline compliant pet carrier, you have tickets and possessions in hand. Everything is going according to plan. You proceed to the TSA security checkpoint. As you wait in the line, you wonder – what is coming next? How will I clear airport security with my pet? has received many questions about how people traveling with pets will be treated once they get to the front of the security line. Certainly, with all the confusion at security checkpoints and the flow of passengers intent on clearing the line and proceeding to their gate as quickly as possible, it is helpful to know how you and your pet will be cleared through security ahead of time.

The first thing pet owners should know is that TSA does not administer airline pet policies for pets flying in the cabin of an aircraft. According to TSA: “Our security procedures do not prohibit you from bringing a pet on your flight. You should contact your airline or travel agent, however, before arriving at the airport to determine your airline’s policy on traveling with pets.” TSA responsibilities include providing security and protection of travelers across all transportation sectors through the operation of various screening equipment and technology which identifies dangerous objects in baggage, cargo and/or on passengers, and preventing those objects from being transported onto the aircraft.

Procedure for screening live animals

According to TSA: “You will need to present the animal to the Security Officers at the checkpoint. You may walk your animal through the metal detector with you. If this is not possible, your animal will have to undergo a secondary screening, including a visual and physical inspection by our Security Officers. Your animal will NEVER be placed through an X-ray machine. However, you may be asked to remove your animal from its carrier so that the carrier can be placed on the X-Ray machine.”

You will be asked to remove your pet from the carrier so that the carrier can be run through the x-ray machine. You will walk through the upright metal detector with your pet, either by carrying it or leashing it. After clearing the detector, the security officer may swab your hands to detect any traces of explosive devices.

Airports can be busy places and intimidating to your pet. Pet owners should understand the temperament of their pet as it is important to keep it under your control at all times. If you are traveling with a pet who is high spirited or scares easily, you can request a screening room so that your pet will not escape should you not be able to contain them when out of the carrier or get them back in the carrier once clearing security. You should allow extra time for this request.

There has been a lot of news lately regarding the introduction of the controversial body scanners in many airports. If the old stand up metal detectors have been replaced with body scanners, both the pet and the owner are subject to pat down. Again, you will remove the pet from the carrier and make it available to security officers should they decide to inspect your pet. Should you require a pat down, you should put your pet back in the carrier first.

Airports require that all pets remain in their carriers while inside the building with the exception of service dogs. If you are traveling with a service dog, be sure that training material is available and your dog is appropriately marked as a service dog. Avoid any contact with working or therapy dogs that oftentimes are seen throughout the airport.

Do a bit of research ahead of travel on pet relief areas in your airport so you can offer this opportunity for your pet ahead of boarding. All major airports are required to have pet relief areas past security check points.

Being prepared is key to traveling with your pet. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your gate. Keep your accessories (coat, purse, laptop or other items you must carry) at a minimum so you will have free hands to handle your pet at security checkpoints. Take your pet out of the carrier after you have removed your shoes, belt, etc. and put your items on the table to be scanned. Be sure and carry a non-metallic leash in the carrier to loop around your wrist to be sure that your pet cannot escape when you remove them from the carrier. Even calm pets can get nervous and scared when around groups of people and in unfamiliar environments.

You can either carry your pet or let it walk beside you through the scanner. Once cleared, you can put your cat or dog back in the carrier.

We would welcome your feedback about how your cleared security checkpoints with your pet. Please make a comment so that you can help others who are traveling with their pet. We appreciate your time.

More information on pet travel by air

Pet Passport – what is it? Why does your pet need one? How much will it cost?

Pet Passport - why it is important for international pet travelThe term “pet passport” was originally popularized in the European Union (EU) where dog, cat or ferret owners could get a blue pet passport from their veterinarian under the Pet Travel Scheme and travel freely through the EU member countries. This is still true today for pets living in the EU. It will last for the lifetime of the pet as long as the rabies vaccination is kept up to date and pet owners don’t run out of pages.

However, for pet owners residing in countries outside of the EU, a “pet passport” is simply a term we use to represent the collection of the required documentation needed to take your pet to other countries. Customs officials will need to see these documents in order to clear your pet through customs, and the inconvenience caused by losing them can be significant.

Your veterinarian can help you create a pet passport for your pet to enter almost any country in the world. For example, if you are from the United States and are visiting most European Union countries, then the pet passport will consist of the following:

  • The Annex IV form for the country you will be visiting (they are all different) completed by your veterinarian and endorsed by a USDA veterinarian. You airline may also require and health certificate, especially if your pet is flying under an air waybill in the cargo hold. A microchip certificate can identify when your pet’s microchip was implanted and which veterinarian administered the implantation. This is important because your pet must be identified by a microchip prior to receiving the rabies vaccination.
  • Your pet’s rabies certificate or inoculation record which must be attached to the certified Annex IV form.

If you are visiting one of the United Kingdom countries (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales) as well as Finland or Malta, your pet will need proof of a tapeworm treatment to complete your pet passport.

UPDATE: As Brexit has occurred, note that the United Kingdom is no longer be a part of the European Union and UK Pet Passports are no longer be accepted for pets entering the EU. To enter the EU from the UK, your pet will need either an EU Pet Passport with the most current rabies vaccination recorded in it or an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) issued by an Official Veterinarian in the UK. The AHC can be used to travel throughout the EU for 4 months after issuance or until your pet’s rabies vaccination expires, whichever comes first. It can also be used to reenter the UK during the 4 month validity period.

More details on how Brexit will affect your pet.

Every country in the world will require a health certificate and proof of rabies vaccination, although the rules for additional treatments and testing vary widely from country to country. You should have a health certificate completed by your veterinarian prior to travel. This certificate is also referred to as a Veterinary or Sanitary Certificate.

The cost for a pet passport will depend on your veterinarian’s fees, the fees for microchipping (if required), and the fees for completing and endorsing the necessary forms. There will always be a trip to the vet prior to travel for a health certificate. Other tests and treatments, such as tapeworm, internal/external parasites, microchips, and rabies titer tests, if required, will affect the cost. Endorsement by a government veterinarian will always incur a fee. Many countries also require an import permit and they will charge for processing it.

The first thing to do is to find out the requirements to bring your pet to your destination country. In some cases (like Australia), you have to plan 6 months in advance. The key to avoiding delays at the border and/or quarantine when traveling with your pet is to have your pet passport complete and accurate for the countries you are visiting.

You can find information on country requirements in our immigration section and pet passports with forms and instructions on over 220 countries all over the world. You can also post questions on our blog homepage and we will answer them promptly. More information pet passports can be found here:

Pet Seat Belts – Where it’s the Law and Why it Matters

Using pet seat belts. It’s one of those reflex actions you don’t think about much.

You get in the car and reach for the seat belt – most times before even starting the engine. And if there’s a kid or two in tow? They’re buckled in snug and tight before you even leave the driveway. It is the law, after all.

But what about your pet? It seems like the most natural thing in the world, especially with dogs, to have your pup jump in and share the ride with you. And let’s be honest, doesn’t it make you smile when you see a car with its windows down and a dog’s face in the wind? What could possibly be wrong with not using pet seat belts?

Potentially, quite a bit from both a legal and safety perspective for both the passengers in the car and your pet. In the United Kingdom, you could be fined up to £5,000 and penalty points on your license if your pet is not restrained in the car. Other countries are also following suit, and there is a good reason for that.

Imagine this scenario. Your small fur ball is curled up on your lap. Cute, right? Nope! It only takes a second for something to go very wrong with this picture. An unrestrained 10 lb. dog involved in an accident at just 30 mph will exert roughly 300 lbs. force – more than enough to inflict serious harm on itself or a passenger.

Pug in back seat using pet seat belts

Click-it or Ticket – A State Issue

It’s easy to understand why most people think there are no guardrails governing pet restraint during road trips. The fact is that there is no federal law that specifically outlines what is legal and what isn’t when a companion animal shares a vehicle’s passenger compartment. While the federal Animal Welfare Act, which first passed in 1966 and has been amended eight times since then, does place restrictions around the transport of very specific animals used in special circumstances, it is not a broad animal protection law.

Instead, the responsibility of animal protection is assumed at the state level. The good news is that each and every state has legislation currently in force to protect animals. The bad news is that these laws can vary wildly from one state to another. Additionally, many state statutes allow individual cities or towns to enact their own animal protection ordinances.

What does all this mean?

Both pet owners and professional pet transporters alike need to do a little research regarding animal protection, most typically referenced as animal restraint, when traveling across town, across state or across country with a furry friend riding shotgun. Those who don’t do their homework could face steep fines, damages not covered by insurance, and in some cases, even criminal charges for not using pet seat belts.

States with Existing Pet Seat Belt Laws

Pets in Passenger Compartments

Acknowledging that many pet protection laws can be complex and multi-layered, let’s start with one that isn’t.

Dog in back seat of car

Currently, New Jersey has a law that flat-out stipulates pets must be restrained while in the passenger compartment of a moving vehicle. Specifically, in New Jersey, a pet must be in a carrier or wear a seat belt when a vehicle is moving. Period. The fine for not complying can reach $1,000.

Rhode Island’s laws come close to meeting the same standard, but with one caveat. Rhode Island mandates that an animal in a vehicle passenger compartment must be placed in a carrier, cage or secured with a seat belt, unless it is under the physical control of someone in the car other than the driver.

It’s not a straight up restraint law, but it might as well be since the police officer pulling you over is who determines if your animal was being controlled or not. The cost for not adhering to the law can reach $200.

Additionally, the following states require that your dog must have a canine specific restraint (such as a harness which buckles into a pet seat belt) when riding in an automobile: Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island

Pets in Open Truck Beds

How unsafe is it to put your dog in an open truck bed? The American Humane Society reports that an estimated 100,000 dogs die each year untethered in the bed of a truck. And that’s just an estimate.

Dog in truck bed
Photo by Tina Nord from Pexels

When it comes to animals in an open truck bed, primarily dogs, a number of states have laws stating they must be tethered or restrained in a cage or crate. Failure to do so will result in fines. These states include: California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Oregon

At first glance, the fact that a limited number of states have such laws on the books might suggest that enforcing pet restraint isn’t a priority. The truth is similar legislation is gaining traction in an increasing number of states across the U.S.

A Push for More State Laws

What’s the big deal?

Simple physics explains why the trend toward pet restraint is gaining steam. An unrestrained pet that weighs 50 pounds, in a 35 mph collision, can be projected forward like a cannonball with 1,500 pounds of force The possibility of severe injury to your pet and other passengers when riding unrestrained in a vehicle is real. This reality and the awareness of it will surely fuel additional states to adopt specific pet restraint laws in the near future.

Also growing in popularity is legislation that limits pet transport to the back seat of the vehicle for the same reasons small children are placed there. Air bags. Restrained or not, an airbag deploying at 200 mph, can deliver devastating injuries to any animal that is impacted.

Factoring in Distracted Driver Violations

Now let’s talk about the states where an unrestrained pet can get you in hot water, even when there isn’t a specific law about it in force. This is the realm of states with distracted driver legislation.

In ten states, driving with a pet on your lap puts you at risk of being charged with distracted driving. Some states mention animals in laps specifically in their distracted legislation, such as Hawaii. Others reference anything that interferes with maintaining control of the vehicle or obstructing view – both of which are distinct possibilities from a lap-riding animal.

Distracted driving states include: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The consequences of violating distracted driver laws vary from state to state. In some states, a pet on a lap is reason enough to justify a traffic stop. Other states view distracted driving as a secondary offense, one that is attached to a primary offense, such as speeding. The bottom line is all can result in tickets and fines.

An Additional Consideration – Insurance

Certainly, a distracted driving ticket for an unrestrained pet is costly; and an injured pet as the result of distracted driver accident is awful beyond measure. But there’s one more thing to think about if you’re in an accident with an unrestrained animal in the car. Some insurance companies will not cover the cost of the incident if it was the result of distracted driving. Suffice it to say, the emotional and monetary cost may be substantial.

Anti-Cruelty Laws May Also Have Impact

We’re not done yet. Pet restraint regulations get even murkier. Sixteen states have animal anti-cruelty laws that can be applied to unsecured pets in moving vehicles. In general, laws in these states consider it illegal to transport animals in a cruel manner or in a way that puts an animal in danger.

The catch is that there are no hard and fast rules or a specific definitions of what constitutes “transporting in a cruel manner.” This means that it is up to the discretion of the legal authority pulling a driver over to determine what constitutes an offense and what does not.

The states where this ambiguous application exists include: Alabama, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Again, the consequences of violating anti-cruelty laws in these states vary. Fines are a given. More important, you need to understand that breaking animal anti-cruelty laws can carry misdemeanor, or in extreme cases, felony charges. 

Beyond the Law: The Case for Pet Seatbelts

Without question, widespread adoption of pet restraint laws has a long way to go. But as previously mentioned, the movement does have considerable momentum and new, more comprehensive legislation is definitely on the horizon. This makes it a good idea for pet owners and transporters to check the rules of the road periodically in the cities and states they travel through.

Dogs in back seat

Or maybe there’s an easier solution. Many pet owners and professional pet transporters already understand the benefits of pet seat belts and have taken the law into their own hands – choosing to use restraints, even when they are not required. This is especially the case as information linked to potential injuries from unsecured pets, airbag dangers and insurance denials become more widely known.

That’s because most people consider pets furry family members – precious cargo whether in an owner’s vehicle or a transporter’s care. And when all is said and done, it comes down to being a matter of love, not of law.

Julie Bina is a writer for CitizenShipper, an online community that brings pet owners together with pet transporters. She is part of a team of passionate pet owners committed to improving and enhancing the lives of furry family members.

Keeping Your Pets Safe at Christmas

Cat looking at Christmas Lights - Keep Your Pets Safe at Christmas
Photo Credit: Eftodii Aurelia –

Christmas is a beautiful time of year filled with lights, decorations, parties and meals spent with friends and family. It is a time of distraction with lots to do and not as much time to relax and keep an eye on what everyone is up to. All of the trimmings of the season can also be dangerous to your pets. Here are some important tips on keeping your pets safe at Christmas.

The season is a time of wonderment for your dog or cat. There are new things to explore that they do not normally see in their day-to-day lives. Glittery things, things that light up and blink, new smells from holiday candles, Christmas trees and, of course, all of the goodies in the kitchen that go along with the holiday can appeal to their senses and encourage them to investigate. They need to know how these things fit in their world and, of course, whether they are good to eat!

Keeping your pets safe from Christmas decorations

Many of our typical holiday decorations can cause havoc on our dogs or cats’ digestive system. If ingested, and many of them can cause serious illness to your pet. Consider these tips when decorating for the holidays.

Christmas Tree

You should secure your Christmas tree with a stable stand. Secure and hide all cords for lights on your tree. Avoid glass ornaments as they can be a hazard (and a mess) if they fall off the tree. Decorate the bottom of the tree carefully. Use decorations that cannot be eaten or will not entice your cat or dog to play with them.

If you have a real tree, keep the water in the stand covered with a tree skirt. That way, your furry friends will not be tempted to squeeze under the tree for a drink. Consider spraying pinecones with apple cider vinegar to discourage them while still staying in the festive spirit.

Consider a table-top tree. Elevating temptation can divert catastrophe.

Tinsel – can you image what this will do to a cat’s stomach and intestine if eaten? Eating or even licking tinsel can lead to a very unpleasant stomach.

Salt and Dough Ornaments – although ornaments made from salt dough don’t smell particularly appealing to us, your dog or cat may think differently. Salt toxicosis causes vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, lethargy, excessive thirst or urination and coordination issues. This can result from eating these ornaments, so hang them high on the tree.

Wrapping Paper – clean up bits and pieces of ribbon and wrapping paper that hit the deck when you wrap gifts. If it looks pretty, it must taste good, right? Keep wrapped packages hidden or out of reach until Christmas morning.

Snow globes – many imported snow globes contain antifreeze which can cause kidney failure and even death. If you have them, put them where they cannot wind up broken on the floor.

Lights and Batteries – those beautiful fairy lights you use for decorating can be harmful to a cat or dog. After all, to understand how something works, doesn’t it need to be chewed? Keep these out of reach of inquisitive minds.

Poinsettias, Mistletoe and Ivy – the leaves from poinsettias can cause your dog stomach upset and/or diarrhea if eaten in large quantity. Berries from mistletoe contain polysaccharides, alkaloids, and lectins. When eaten, mistletoe can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Eating ivy, amaryllis or Christmas cactus will cause the same symptoms. Certainly, this will go a long way in ruining Christmas for everyone.

Candles – you should light these only when you are in the room. Your pet can knock a candle over and cause a fire hazard. Keep candles out of reach from larger dogs who tend to eat everything they come in contact with. Some Labs and Golden Retrievers are famous for this. Opt instead for LED candles.

Christmas foods that can be dangerous for your pets

Dog with Christmas Cookie
Photo Credit: Noelle Otto –

Making cookies and other Christmas goodies is part of a traditional holiday for many pet owners. The smells that you create in the kitchen are simply irresistible to our furry friends. You can bet they will be waiting to taste your creations.

Here are some foods to watch out for keep your pet safe at Christmas.

Artificial Sweeteners – many bakers cutting back on sugar make recipes for Christmas cakes and cookies that use artificial sweeteners. These contain Xylitol which, even small amounts, can cause low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure or even death in dogs. There are many recipes on the Internet for cookies that are safe for dogs at Christmas.

Chocolate – contains theo bromide which can cause muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding or a heart attack.

Grapes and Raisins – keep both of these far away from your dog and cat. Eating these can cause acute kidney failure and even death.

Garlic, Chives and Onions – all of these are no-nos. They come from the allium family and are poisonous to dogs and cats. Onions contain an ingredient called thiosulphate which is also toxic to cats and dogs. It can cause red blood cells in your dog or cat to burst. That certainly gets our attention, right?

Macadamia Nuts – these little jewels are so good and many pet owners splurge on them for the holidays. No slipping one to your dog or cat. Eating macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hypothermia in dogs.

Blue Cheese – Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Stilton all contain a mycotoxin called roque fortine that is naturally produced by various fungi. Why would we want to add mold to our pet’s diet? Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Stilton are also high in fat, which is a danger to your pet.

Other tips for keeping your pets safe at Christmas

Set Rules – make the rules clear to your guests. There will be no feeding your pets anything except treats that you have made available for them. Bag up special treats for them before everyone arrives. Your guests will love to give your pet a special treat. It is great way to introduce them to your cat or dog. Some great yummies are a small piece of plain cheese, lowfat dog or cat treat or a carrot or biscuit that you have broken up. It is better than your guests slipping them what they think will make your pet happy.

Christmas Cheer – libations for your pets are out. Gather up any glasses left unattended, and watch out for those punch bowls. Alcohol can be deadly for a dog or cat.

Seasonal Grub – Salty, spicy and fatty foods should stay on your plate including turkey, stuffing, onions, casseroles and nuts. They are too rich for your dog or cat’s digestive system. Who wants to clean that up in front of your guests while dressed in holiday garb?

Watch the Trash – keep garbage cans closed securely. Scavengers can work fast and it is no fun to clean up garbage spilled all over your kitchen floor.

Safe Spaces – Make sure that your pet has a safe place to retreat to if things get overwhelming.Pets who are untrained, hyper, aggressive, territorial or just plain shy should be confined during holiday parties.

Get Moving – exercise your pet before the gathering arrives, if possible. A tired dog will be more likely to be less active during the merriment.

Traveling – find some great tips on how to keep your pets safe when traveling during the holidays here.

Some simple adjustments can go a long way when keeping your pets safe at Christmas. Who wants to rush their best friend to an emergency hospital during the holidays? Have a wonderful and fun season with your family and your pets.

How to Keep Your Dog and Cat Safe in Winter

Dog in winter snowWinter weather is either on its way, or already here depending on where you live. With winter comes snow and freezing temperatures, so it’s time to think about how to keep your dog or cat safe in winter. While the weather outside is frightful, these winter pet tips can keep your precious pets snug, safe, and warm.

When is it time to bring your pets inside?
Unless your pet is a breed that is heavily coated and accustomed to living in cold environments, when the temperature falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit it is time to provide shelter for them to keep them safe from frostbite and hypothermia. If possible, bring them inside with you. Just remember, if it?s too cold for you, it?s too cold for your pet.

What if I cannot bring my pet inside?
If not in your home, then make a warm place for them in your garage or provide them with a draft-free shelter. The floor of the shelter should be raised from the routnd. You should cover the floor of  the dog house with strawor provide bedding such as self warming pet pads and other insulating material. The door should be covered with plastic or other wind blocking, water-proof material. Check their water frequently and feed them more than normal as they will need the fuel to keep themselves warm.

Keeping Your Pet Warm: Many people misunderstand the purpose of an animal?s coat of fur. Although it may be plush and beautiful, it is not always the perfect insulator, and if your pet has short-hair or hairless, they are even more vulnerable to the cold. To help prepare your pet for warmth, start with a dry, draft-free shelter with plenty of food and water.

Pet Clothes: Good or Bad Idea: The real answer is: It depends. There is nothing wrong with dressing your dog for the season, as long as it does not inhibit breathing or movement. Cute clothes for cats are usually not a good idea. They are more stubborn than dogs and could actually do more harm than good. In cold weather, keep cats (even outdoor ones) inside with a warm blanket and they should be fine.

Keep the Outdoor Adventurers Inside: If you have a dog that spends most of its time romping in your backyard, or a kitty that whiles away the day in a sunny patch on the front porch, winter’s arrival may be a rude awakening. Pets are at risk of getting frostbite or hypothermia just like a human. If your pet has been playing in the snow, make sure to protect their paws from salt or antifreeze spills with booties or petroleum jelly before they go out.  Very important to clean their paws, ears and coat when returning inside.

Protect your cat in winterTis the Season for Poisons: Coolant and/or Anti-freeze can spill in the parking lot, garage or driveway and are EXTREMELY poisonous to pets. Unfortunately, dogs love the smell and taste. So, it is important to keep an eye on them when around these areas. Wipe paws, legs and stomach when returning from the rain, sleet, or ice. If your dog licks rock salt, call your veterinarian immediately.

Save a Cat: Cats love to be warm and cozy, especially in the winter. Since they don?t know any better, what better place than an engine compartment? This unfortunate accident causes numerous cat deaths a year. Save a life this year by banging loudly on your hood. This will give any sleeping cats a chance to vacate before turning over the motor.

Report a Crime

What to do if you see a dog or cat left outside in extremely cold temperatures. We encourage you to contact local law enforcement agencies because leaving pets outside in cold temperatures is a crime, especially without shelter. Their owners are at risk of facing criminal charges. One of the most common forms of animal cruelty are animals left outside in in winter weather and these cases are investigated more by police and animal control agencies than any other form of animal abuse. Do your part and gently remind the owner or report the abuse to local authorities.

It doesn’t take much to keep your dog or cat safe in winter when things get frosty. Just like us, our feline and canine friends need shelter, warmth, food, and care. When winter’s chill sends you scurrying indoors, don’t forget your furry four-footed pals and their simple needs this season.