Understanding the New DOT Rules for Emotional Support Animals on Airplanes

emotional support animal on airplane

The regulation that provides protections for service or assistance animals on airplanes is the Airline Carrier Access Act (ACAA), 49 U.S.C. Section 41705). Administered by the United States Department of Transportation, this statute prohibits discrimination of airline service based on a mental or physical disability of a passenger. The ACAA was enacted in 1986 for US-based airlines and amended in 2000 to include foreign carriers.

Anyone who has flown on a US-based airline in the past 5 years will attest that the number of animals flying in the cabin has increased notably. So have airline charges for small, non-service dogs and cats flying in pet carriers in the cabin. Oftentimes, pet owners pay more than their own ticket to fly their pet. All airline pet policies require many larger pets to fly in the cargo hold due to their size.

When passengers realized that they could fly their pet for free by claiming their pet as an emotional support animal (ESA) with only a letter from a doctor or other medical professional, the popularity of emotional support animals on airplanes soared. It is unclear whether it was the financial benefit or the anxiety that comes with flying a pet in the cargo hold that fueled the increase. What is very clear is that it became a real problem for the airlines very fast.

The variety of animals that were brought onboard under the protection of the ACAA was astounding. Passengers found themselves flying beside mice, ferrets, rats, birds, hamsters, squirrels, monkeys, ducks, turkeys, rabbits, miniature horses and peacocks to name a few. What followed were multiple incidents of offensive behavior, aggression to passengers and crew, damage to the aircraft and ultimately an end to the public trust for legitimate service animals.

Because the ACAA did not clarify the definition of a service animal, the airlines were basically helpless to stop the surge of requests from owners of ESAs. Additionally, because emotional support animals generated no revenue for the airlines, all damages and liabilities incurred by ESAs had to be borne by other airline resources.

On February 5, 2020, the DOT issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making providing notice of the amendment and seeking comments from the public, the airlines and various agencies. As the situation worsened, in May, 2020, the DOT issued an Advance Notice of Rulemaking which allowed the airlines to specify what animals they would accept as emotional support animals. This may have helped the airlines control the influx of non-domesticated animals they were previously forced to accept, but there were more issued to address.

In order to help mitigate the issues, the DOT sought to align the definition of a service animal to that reflected in the American with Disabilities Act[1] with this amendment. This act does not provide protections for emotional support animals in public spaces such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, or airports. It does, however, include miniature horses which the DOT has deferred to the airlines to decide whether or not they will accept them.

Why did the DOT propose the amendment?

Aside from the inconsistent definition of a service animal in the ACAA, the DOT proposed the amendment for the following reasons:

  • The large number of complaints from passengers with legitimately trained service animals, other passengers and airline employees and crews.
  • Disruptions caused by the forced acceptance of non-domesticated and and other wildlife in a close environment of the cabin.
  • The high number of passengers flying with documentation from online mental health professionals who were willing to provide pet owners with emotional support animal and psychiatric service animal documentation for a fee[2] allowing them to misrepresent their pet as a service animal.
  • The high number of incidents of bad behavior from emotional support animals on airplanes that were not trained to behave in the confined and stressful cabin environment. As no kind of confinement was required, the behavior of ESAs could put other passengers, crew and the operation of the airline at risk.
  • To clarify how the airline should regulate with respect to these issues.
  • A Congressional mandate that called for minimum standards for service animals through the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.

What does the amendment cover?

These are the deficiencies in the legislation that the amendment addresses:

  • Defines a service animal as a dog, regardless of breed, that is individually trained or able to provide assistance to a qualified person with a disability[3]. Because dogs can be task-trained to perform many different tasks and functions, they would be most qualified to be a service animal.
  • Requires the airline not to discriminate against any specific dog breeds.
  • Requires the airline to treats psychiatric dogs[4] the same as service dogs with regard to document provision, check in procedures and the like.

  • Allows airlines to fly emotional support animals as regular pets, not service animals.
  • Allows airlines to limit the number of service animals per passenger to two.
  • Allows airlines to require the submission of a DOT form attesting to dog training and good behavior and health of the service dog.
  • For flights more than 8 hours, allows the airlines to require that a DOT form is submitted addressing the service dog’s ability to relieve itself during the flight.
  • Allows airlines to require these forms to be submitted at least 48 hours in advance, online when booking or at check in. The convenience of online booking and check in cannot be denied passengers flying with a service animal.
  • Allows airlines to require that service dogs are harnessed, leashed or otherwise tethered.
  • Addresses safe transport of larger service dogs.
  • Allows airlines to hold passengers flying with service dogs liable for damage caused to the aircraft in certain circumstances.

Breaking down the comments

There were over 15,000 comments accepted from various agencies, associations and the public at large. About 10,000 comments were directed to the transport of emotional support animals, 3,000 in favor of the amendment and 6,000 against.

Predictably, airline associations and agencies that represent the disabled argued that untrained emotional support animals were substantially more likely to misbehave in a stressful environment causing a risk to operational safety. Because emotional support animals on airplanes are not required to be contained, they are more likely to encroach on other passengers and affect the operations of the crew.

Additionally, there was concern over the increased fraudulent documentation submitted to the airlines from owners misrepresenting their need for a service animal with a fee-based online evaluation involving minimal therapeutic interaction.

Other supporters of the amendment commented on the medical affects associated with more exposure to emotional support animals on airplanes such as allergies. This is not a new argument and has been mitigated on some airlines with enhanced air filtration; however, it merits consideration.

There were also comments from medical healthcare workers and professionals as well as individuals which did not support the amendment.

The primary concern was that changing the definition of an emotional support animal would discriminate against people with legitimate psychological issues such as PTSD, autism, debilitating depression, anxiety and other emotional and mental disabilities.

The financial impact of having to pay for pets who formerly could fly for free was also raised in the comments.

Disability rights organizations were split down the middle. Some argued that, due to the increased number of emotional support animals in the cabin was affecting public trust in legitimate service animals. Others argued that physical needs for service animals were taking precedence over mental disabilities.

Many organizations such as the Humane Society did suggest a separate classifications of service animals with stricter requirements such as behavior attestations and proof of in-office visits; however, they did not agree that containment should be required. These comments were not considered due to the confusion they would cause and the “continued opportunity for abuse and increased safety risk.”[5]

Can my emotional support dog qualify as a psychiatric dog?

To qualify as a service dog, your dog must undertake a minimum of 120 hours of training over a period of 6 months according to the Association of Assistance Dog Partners. Thirty hours must be spent in public settings socializing the dog and enforcing acceptable behavior. Dogs must be sociable and trainable.

Training allows service dogs to perform specific tasks for their handlers such as guiding individuals with vision impairments, retrieving items for people with mobility issues, alerting to changes in glucose levels to name a few. The exposure involved in training will teach the dog how to behave in busy airports and crowded aircraft cabins thus reducing risks to other passengers in the terminal as well as passengers and crew in the cabin.

Psychiatric dogs are also defined as doing work or performing tasks for their handlers that involves training such as alerting for oncoming seizures or assisting those with mental or intellectual disabilities.

Advocates of the amendment argued that requiring an owner of an emotional support animal to qualify its dog as a psychiatric dog would be an incredible burden and, in the end, their benefit would not include a specific task but rather simply the comfort that their presence provides.

It is important to note that the DOT did recognize that the rule does not require service animal users to incur the cost of training by third party schools or organizations; service animal users are free to train their
own dogs to perform a task or function for them[7]

What is the benefit of the amendment?

  • Reduction of confusion as to the definition of a service animal by aligning with the ADA regulation.
  • Overall reduction of incidents which previously were generally caused by untrained animals flying in the cabin
  • Less liability to the airlines for damage to the aircraft caused by any animal, whether service or emotional support.
  • Less potential allergic reactions from other passengers.
  • Allows the airlines to fly other animals in the cabin pursuant to their pet policies should they desire to do so.


Commencing January 4, 2020, the airlines will have the right to classify all emotional support animals as pets, subject to their pet policies. Due to the container requirement, only small pets will be able to fly in the cabin in airline-compliant pet carriers. Larger pets will need to fly in the cargo hold as either checked baggage or air cargo.

We have not yet seen changes to airline policies related to emotional support animals; however, we expect the airlines to revise their policies very soon. Find airline policies for emotional support animals on airplanes.


[1] U.S. Dept. of Justice ADA Requirements of Service Animals

[2] Service Animal Final Rule, page 14.

[3] Service Animal Final Rule, page 9

[4] Service Animal Final Rule, page 23 A psychiatric service animal, like a service animal, is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a passenger with a psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability. (e.g. seizure disorder or diabetes)

[5] Service Animal Final Rule, page 23

[6] IAADP Minimum Training Standards

[7] Service Animal Final Rule, page 23

Training a Dog to Travel

Pet Traveling in Train
Photo by ?ahin Sezer Dinçer: Pexels.com

Famously known as “man’s best friend,” let’s be honest! Who wouldn’t love to travel better with their dog? It only seems natural that our four-legged companions travel alongside us in our journeys, whether small or large. However, travelling with a canine may seem quite intimidating and it really is a test of their obedience and skills. So, how can you make your trips smoother and more fun for everyone?

We have put together our top training tips for travelling with your dog, just for you!

These training tips cover everything from car trips, to hotel visits, to new and exciting locations.

Hopefully, these tips on how to travel better with a dog can put you at ease so you can further prepare your travel plans for you and your furry friend.

Introduction to training

train your dog to be a better traveler
Photo Credit: Anna Shvets – Pexels.com

When you’re deciding what commands to use, keep your words short and sweet–“come” rather than “come here,” for example. Say your dog’s name to get their attention, and then give the command. Keep your commands consistent so your dog doesn’t get confused.

Always use positive reinforcement in training – never punish your dog for getting things wrong. They won’t connect the punishment to their action and will only learn to fear you. Instead, reward your dog when they get things right, with a tasty treat or a belly rub.

As for how long will it take for your dog to learn necessary skills, it can vary. Some breeds (like border collies and dalmatians, for example) are known for being intelligent and fast learners, and they may pick up skills in a matter of minutes. Other dogs will take a little more time and patience.

Now that you have an idea of how to train, we’ll move in what to train in order to travel better with your dog!

Condition your dog to car trips

dog travel by car
Photo Credit: Charles Roth – Pexels.com

One of the best tips we can offer for how to travel better with a dog begins as early as puppyhood.

Conditioning your puppy to car trips from a young age is critical to ensure that your pup is calm, comfortable, and without stress during car trips, both short and long.

John from Allthingsdogs explains to us just how essential the socialization period is in the puppy. Early socialization includes the exposure to not only other dogs and humans, but also different environments (i.e. car trips and various locations).

By conditioning your puppy to car trips, you ease any predisposition to fear, anxiety or even motion sickness woes which they may have.

You can help ease any initial or on-going car trip woes with toys and familiar blankets. An excellent idea is to have specific “car toys” which are made special by only being kept or used during car time. This helps create a positive experience when it comes to travelling with your pup!

Take short trips and build up to longer trips. And importantly, take trips to happy places like your dog’s favorite trail or park. If their only experience with the car is to go to the vet or groomer, they won’t be a happy camper in the backseat!

Buckle up!

Just like us humans, our puppy friends may experience serious injuries from car accidents. We therefore recommend the use of harnesses or doggy seat belts when travelling with your dog.

Training your pup to “buckle up” and be familiar with the use of a harness or other car safety device is essential so that your dog is not put into an unfamiliar restricted situation which may cause distress.

A great idea is to allow your pup to get a feel of the harness or other device at home in a relaxed setting. Let them wear the harness around the house and give them lots of cuddles and treats. Your dog will begin to associate the harness with other positive things and therefore they will not find the restriction so intimidating!

Crate train your dog

crate train your dog
Photo Courtesy of Pet Travel Transport

Crate training your dog is a great training tip for travel.

Training your pup to sleep in a crate encourages your dog to sleep in one area. This is a great option when staying away from home.

Additionally, crate training also enables your dog to have a “safe-zone”. Many dogs begin to recognize the crate area as their safe zone which is a plus when they are in an unfamiliar environment or around unfamiliar people.

Crates are also useful for the car trips. In fact, some dogs prefer to be in a crate while traveling than to be buckled in on the seat. This is also a more relaxed approach as your pup will have free reign of the crate during travel.

Crates are the most common and often the only method of transporting your pup in-flight. As many of our pets will take to the skies at some point in their lives, the crate is an important tool that will help them feel safe in the air.

Again, positive reinforcement is the best method for crate training. When your pup enters the crate say “bed” or “crate” and then pass on over a treat and some praise. Soon your pup will make their way to crate on command, or just for a snooze on their own!

Train your pup with bathroom cues

Dogs can only hold their bladder for so long, although adult dogs hold their bladder better than puppies. Nonetheless, bathroom cues and stops are an important part of travelling with pets.

To make it easier, we recommend training your pup to go to the bathroom on command through bathroom cues. For example, using the command “potty” and popping a treat into their mouth once they go.

Potty training your pup is a common training step during puppyhood. However, we do recommend taking the extra step and practicing your dog to go bathroom on command. This will save a lot of grief during long-distance travel!

Ace your dog’s on-leash skills

leash train your dog
Photo Credit: Gastavo Fring – Pexels.com

Leash training is an essential tool to have down pat when travelling with your pup.

Begin leash training slowly from a young age. First, let your pup run around the house with their lead on. Then, slowly begin to lead him or her around home or the backyard. If they pull, then stop. Begin walking again once they are calm.

When they are walking nicely next to you, praise and send down a treat so that they begin to associate good behaviour with yummy treats.

A well-behaved dog on a leash is a blessing while travelling. There are so many new sights, smells, people, and other animals your dog will get exposed to on a trip. It can be frustrating, and even dangerous if your dog tries to pull toward everything that interests them in an airport or rest stop. Leash training can help greatly with this.

Teach more good manners like “wait” and “quiet”

Teaching your dog to “wait” is a great training tip to help them travel better. If your dog is an unfamiliar environment and runs off, this can be a dangerous situation. Teaching the command “wait” is simple and just requires some positive training methods.

We recommend to begin teaching “wait” before your pup enters a door way, or exits the crate. Ask your pup to “wait”, and slowly open the door, if he/she begins to head out, then close the door. Repeat until your dog finally waits and then give them a treat and some love.

A barking dog can cause a lot of angry holiday-goers, and it is not the most pleasant noise to hear when on vacation or travelling.

Dogs may bark to alert us, grab our attention, and to communicate. However, they can also bark if they are fearful or bored.

We recommend training your dog to be “quiet.” When training, it’s important not to yell or get upset, but actually ignore the barking. Don’t give them any attention. When they stop barking (even for a second!) quickly reward them with a treat and praise.

Keep your dog as comfortable as possible by bringing familiar blankets and toys, and it’s a great idea to exercise them before a trip so that they are tired and sleep through the flight or drive.


Travelling with your furry friend requires proper training and preparation in order for it to be a successful and smooth ride.

Conditioning your dog to the car and to handling new and exciting environments in a controlled manner is essential. Ensuring your dog’s safety along the way to your destination is also critical.

Through the use of positive reinforcement methods, a wide array of training is required in order to prepare your dog for travel.

A dog who is well-socialized and conditioned travels the best. We trust that our top tips will help you travel better with your dog!

Have a paw-tastic and ulti-mutt journey!

John Woods is a graduate in animal welfare and behavior, member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and a recognized author by the Dog Writers Association of America.

Traveling with a Domesticated Wild Animal

traveling with a domesticated wild animal - squirrel
Courtesy of Pixabay

Generally, wild animals do not make good pets. Taking wild creatures from their natural habitat and placing them in a domesticated setting is bad news for conservation as well as for your peaceful family life. And, if you enjoy traveling with a domesticated wild animal that you are raising as a pet, regulations for importing them to a foreign country are far more complicated than importing a cat or dog.

There are exceptions to having a wild animal as a pet. You may have rescued an injured or abandoned wild animal and are unable to return it to the wild after its recovery, or perhaps you want to care for an exotic pet that isn’t domesticated in your home country.

Examples of the more commonly kept wild animals are birds, squirrels, sugar gliders, hedgehogs, foxes, and raccoons.

It is also it is important to point out that the offspring of a wild animal that has been crossbred with a domestic animal is still considered a wild animal according to the National Association of State and Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. In the case of wolves, Bengals and Savannah cats, your pet must be fifth generation removed from the wild animal to be classified as domesticated and travel under the same regulations as other domesticated animals.

Furthermore, wild animals, even though they have been bred in captivity, are still classified as wild animals and are subject to laws related to their species.

There are things you need to know before taking a wild animal into your home, especially if you intend to travel with a domesticated wild animal.

Is it legal to travel with a domesticated wild animal?

Most wild animals require a permit; however, these protection levels differ by State, nationally and worldwide. It’s best to check out your local laws before domesticating a wild animal.

As an example, ff you have a sugar glider and intend to travel to Alaska or California, know that they are illegal in those states. You will need a permit to keep them in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Massachusetts.

This may not be problematic day-to-day but if you need to travel nationally or internationally, taking a domesticated wild animal could mean you end up on the wrong side of the law – and your animal could be confiscated and destroyed.

It’s also worth adding that owners are legally responsible for their animal’s actions. There are Youtube clips of owners taking their cute raccoon on a leashed walk, but if it were to bite someone, the owner would be liable.

Wild animals can carry rabies

traveling with a domesticated wild animal - raccoon
Courtesy of Pixabay

Rabies is carried by some warm-blooded mammals and is virtually 100% lethal to humans if not treated quickly. According to the World Organization of Animal Health, one person dies every 9 minutes from rabies and almost half of them are children.

Any warm-blooded mammal can theoretically contract rabies; however, the more common species are bats, skunks, foxes, and raccoons. Some wild animals rarely develop rabies such as hedgehogs and hares, but it has been known particularly in Russia. Animals such as squirrels, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, chipmunks, rats, mice and rabbits are rarely known to contract rabies and never known to pass the disease to humans.

Rabies can be passed onto domestic pets as well as cattle which is the most common way humans are infected with rabies.

Related: Why rabies vaccinations are important for pet travel

Wild animals can carry other zoonotic diseases

Wild animals can carry other zoonotic diseases aside from rabies. Any disease that ca be passed to humans is classified as zoonotic..

Salmonella is a zoonotic disease which is commonly found in reptiles. Another example is ringworm, the fungal skin disease, which affects a wide variety of wild animals, Ground squirrels, deer and another 200-odd species can carry bubonic plague.

There is also the risk that a wild animal could pass a disease to your other domestic pets. Distemper can be passed from wild animals to domesticated animals, and, more often than not, causes fatalities in unvaccinated cats and dogs.

Diseases from wild animals is a danger to everyone, especially those with suppressed immune systems and young and old people. If you’re taking a wild animal into your household, think very carefully about diseases that might come with them.

Veterinary treatment for domesticated wild animals

Most veterinarians commonly treat domesticated animals. Should your wild animal fall ill, your veterinarian might not have a good understanding of how to address its needs. Not to mention how you will find treatment for your pet in a foreign country where veterinarians may not be familiar with treating wild animals. A language barrier could make things more difficult.

Many medications, including vaccinations, are not cleared for use in wild animals. So, emergencies could turn into a very expensive and heart-breaking story.

Regulations for traveling with a domesticated wild animal

traveling with a domesticated wild animal - hedgehog
Courtesy of Pixabay

Regulations to import a wild animal to a foreign country are very different than those for a cat or dog. Government agencies responsible to oversee the import and export of wild animals must issue import permits for your pet. The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are two examples of such agencies.

Furthermore, some wild animals are subject to protections under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and permits are required to relocate them.

Owners who are traveling with a domesticated wild animal should know that their pets can be classified as invasive and cannot be imported to a foreign country. The American Racoon is prohibited from entry to the European Union, for example.

Some countries will not permit the import of wild animals including Australia, New Zealand. Others limit many species of exotic animals such as Hawaii and Costa Rica.

Birds are especially difficult to transport due to outbreaks of Avian Influenza. Your wild bird will likely be quarantined in your origination country, your destination country, or both.

Additionally, if you leave your country with a domesticated wild animal, regulations to re-import your pet will be the same as those entering for the first time. (except for US-origin birds) For this reason, you will not only need to understand regulations to import your pet to a foreign country; but you must also need to know regulations to return home.

You must be prepared to provide evidence that you did not take your animal from the wild. Unless proof of purchase or bred-in-captivity documentation is available, your pet could be confiscated.

Flying with a domesticated wild animal

Very few airlines will fly small wild animals such as hedgehogs in the cabin or as checked baggage, even when domesticated. In almost every case, wild animals must fly as air cargo. The environment of a cargo hold can rattle any animal that has not been previously exposed to it.

Owners traveling with a domesticated wild animal must be sure that their pets are flying in IATA-compliant pet crates that are escape-proof and will keep their pet safe. Many domesticated wild animals may become upset with the introduction of confinement. This may cause them to act aggressively or destructively. Sharp claws or teeth can chew through plastic crates and metal mesh coverings. A custom crate made from heavy plywood would be best for transporting a larger domesticated wild animal.

In most cases, a transport agent must book the flight with the airlines. The agent can assist with regulations to import your pet to your destination country.

A domesticated wild animal will always be part wild

pet travel with a fox
Courtesy of Pixabay

Bonds between animals and humans occur at a very young age. This makes hand-reared wild animals much easier to care for. Adult wild animals do not have this bond and are therefore more unpredictable.

Domestic animals have been selectively bred for our households for hundreds if not thousands of years. This makes them easily trained to fit in – except the occasional feral that just can’t stand it indoors. Most domesticated pets are basically diurnal where many wild animals are nocturnal.

A wild animal does not have this genealogical background. Tts instincts are right at the forefront – wild instincts such as lashing out in fear and anger, or aggression over food. These traits are not something you can tame. Stress and frustration can result in biting and other unattractive behaviours.

Where will you keep your pet?

Domesticated wild animals will need a suitable environment to live out its years.

Raccoons are clever and can quickly destroy your soft furnishings. A squirrel will climb and pee wherever it pleases. A fox will chew anything, spray urine scent marks, and bury food.

The greatest challenge will be to provide a suitable enclosure that caters to their wild instincts. Left unrestricted, domesticated wild animals can turn quickly your household upside down and create a lot of damage.

What is a suitable diet for your pet?

pet travel with sugar glider
Courtesy of Pixabay

A wild animal probably isn’t going to happy with a convenient diet of tinned food or dry chow from the grocery store. Chances are it won’t provide them with the nutrients they need either.

Are you happy to buy specialty foods for the entirety of its lifetime? After all, foxes and raccoons can live for up to 15 years.  

What will happen if you are unable to care for your pet?

Consider what might happen if you become unwell or you have to travel without your pet. Who would look after the animal in your absence?

Kenneling won’t be an option unless your kennel accepts wild animals. A house-sitter might not be familiar with how to care for a wild animal.

Releasing your domesticated wild animal back into the environment is extremely unwise. It has become dependent on you for shelter and the provision of food. In some cases, it could be illegal.

Surrendering your pet to a local wild animal shelter would be the only responsible solution when you can no longer care for your pet.

Related: How you can support your local animal shelter

Consult an expert

Think very carefully before domesticating a wild animal. If you find an animal in the wild that is injured, know that there are professionals trained to raise wild animals so they can be quickly released back into the wild.

As cute and cuddly as they are, caring for wild or exotic animals is a sizable responsibility. Traveling with a domesticated wild animal is, in most cases, extremely difficult.

In the majority of cases, leaving wild animals in their environment is the better result for everyone. If your animal cannot be released or it’s an imported exotic pet, then breed-specific experts can help educate you you on the legalities and the best husbandry.

Contributing to this article is Becky Simmonds of Breed Advisor is a wildlife rehabber. She rescues all sorts of hapless wildlife from netting, drains, and the roadside with the aim of releasing them back into the wild when they have recovered.

Pet Travel and COVID – Make Your Trip Safer and Easier

Pet Travel and COVID Stay Safe
Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

Do you want to take your pet with you on your next getaway? According to recent surveys, over 80% of pet owners are planning a trip with their pet, especially after this long period of confinement. But both pet travel and COVID can make things complicated, so how to make things safer and easier for you both when you’re ready to travel?

Many states have implemented restrictions to keep their citizens safer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some cities or states require quarantine once you arrive (like Chicago), and most all states require masks when in public places. Of course, your pet doesn’t need a mask, but, if you intend to take your pet to public areas, you should be aware of mask requirements. Also, it is a good idea to keep your dog or cat away from other pets that you do not know as infections can be passed between animals.

Related: Is it Safe to Travel with Your Pet During the Coronavirus Crisis?

To reduce stress and minimize the impact of unforeseen circumstances, make do some research and make preparations beforehand. To help get you started on your journey and make the most of it, here are tips for pet travel and COVID – how to make things safer and easier.

Protect your pet when you travel during the COVID pandemic
Photo by C. Hill

Get your paperwork in order

A few days before leaving, take your pet to the veterinarian for a checkup, rabies vaccination and health certificate. The health certificate should not be dated more than ten days before your departure. If you are traveling to another country, you may need additional documentation for pet import. Be sure you understand what paperwork will be required or authorities may quarantine your pet when you arrive at your destination. A transport agent can assist you with these requirements.

Veterinarians have also changed their procedures in many cities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Should your pet require medical attention or a health certificate, you may need to wait outside while veterinarians attend to your pet. For this reason, you will need to be proactive in securing your pet’s medical records.

Do some research on quarantine

When considering pet travel and COVID-19, it’s also important to be well versed with the quarantine rules in the country you’re traveling to and to have a plan in place for this. For example, here are the current quarantine-free countries, subject to rules and conditions which you can read here:

  • Asia
  • Cambodia
  • The Maldives
  • Sri Lanka
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Tanzania
  • Tunisia
  • Africa
  • North America
  • Mexico
  • Europe
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Luxembourg
  • The Netherlands
  • Montenegro
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom

If the country you’re visiting isn’t on the list, click here to read about their current rules around quarantining. You’ll need to ensure your pet has a place to stay and you have enough supplies.

If you are planning to travel in the United States know that some states require quarantine for visitors. You can find more information about US State quarantine here.

Identify your pet

Get your pet microchipped. Pets outside of their environment can get excited and get away from you if you are not careful. Over 80% of pets who are not microchipped and are separated from their owners are never reunited with them. Don’t forget to register it in the manufacturer’s database. A microchip with no information attached to it does not do anyone looking for you any good.

Take a current photo of yourself with your pet and keep it handy on your phone or printed out and kept with your travel papers. Should you become separated during the trip, it will help others identify you as the owner. If your pet is chipped, take that certificate with you as well. 

Get the right-sized carrier

pet carrier
Courtesy of J Green Photo from Pet Travel Store

When traveling with your pet, whether by car, plane, or train, a pet carrier makes transporting them from place to place easier and can make them feel safer. Carriers, like pets, come in all shapes and sizes; some are hard, some are soft, some are designed to be carried on the back or shoulder, and some have wheels for hands-free convenience. Be sure it has adequate ventilation, waterproof bottom and secure fasteners. Soft carriers are ideal for tucking under a seat but don’t skimp on size.

Hard crates are much more suitable for pets making the trip flying in the cargo hold. You will want to measure your pet carefully for its crate as the airlines will not accept pets that are too large for their crate. Whether hard or soft, your pet must be able to comfortably stand, sit, turn around, and lie down inside the crate. If the airline deems your crate too small, ticket counter agents will refuse boarding.

Be sure to write your pets name on the outside of the crate or carrier along with your name, address, and cell phone number. Should the airlines route your pet to the wrong location, the airlines will be able to reroute it much quicker. It’s also a good idea to add a phone number of someone at the destination, just in case your pet makes it there before you do.

Acclimate your pet to its crate or carrier

Don’t wait until the day of the trip to see how Fido likes a crate or a carrier. Take it out for a spin or two. Give him or her a chance to feel comfortable in their new surroundings before adding the stress of an extended stay. Drive them to the neighborhood park, to the local shopping center, and then to the next town. By gradually increasing the amount of time they’re in the crate or carrier, they will become accustomed to it and ready for a more extended trip.

Related: How to acclimate your pet to its crate or carrier

Pack a bag

Pack a bag with everything your pet needs. Familiar items such as their blanket, favorite toy, and regular food and treats can help soothe your pet during your travels. “To prevent food or water spills, use a small container with a little circle cut in the lid“, says Richard East, author of Van Cat Meow

You will also need medications, leashes, a crate, pads, garbage bags, paper towels, and a spare blanket for any accidents. For cats, if you don’t want a kitty litter in the crate or there’s no space, take along a portable litter tray or a large container with a fitted lid so your cat relieves itself during rest stops. 

Find a pet-friendly accommodation

pet friendly hotel
Courtesy of Pexels.com

Pet travel and COVID-19 doesn’t have to be stressful. It’s essential to find pet-friendly hotels that allow your pet to stay with you indoors. Of course, hotels are far more limited during this pandemic, so make sure to also call and confirm your stay if you usually just book online.

When you arrive, check for hazards such as insecure fences or chemicals on the premises.  Be sure and protect the hotel furniture with a sheet or blanket and don’t leave your pet alone in the room.

You can also consider putting a tracker on your pet’s collar with the details of your accommodations so you know where they are, and someone can find you if your pet runs off. 

See to their needs 

Ensuring a mostly empty tummy will reduce gastric issues while traveling. Instead of loading up the dish right before the trip, try feeding a partial serving about four to six hours before you leave. According to Pet Food Sherpa, your pet will have more time to digest food when fed earlier. Less food will cause upset to your pet’s digestive system which is already under stress due to new surroundings and activities. Take your pet out for a romp, if possible. A bit of exercise will tire him or her and cause them to sleep more during the journey. Be sure they have an opportunity to empty their bowels and bladder before leaving and stop several times along the way.

Water, on the other hand, is important. Be sure your pet is hydrated before leaving. If traveling by car, keep a small amount of water in the dish at all times. If flying, empty the water dish before handing the pet over to the airlines. Leave the bowl inside so it can be filled by airline employees checking on the pets, especially important if there is a delay between legs of your flight.

Related: How to Travel with an Older Dog

Traveling by car

pet travel by car
Photo by Charles Roth from Pexels

Restrain your pet while traveling to keep you both safe, as well as help you avoid getting fines or warnings. If you have a dog, a crate or a harness that connects to a seat belt, this is the best way to restrain them, says Dr. Chester. If you have a cat, put them in a crate or carrier with a lightweight sheet covering three sides, strapped in by a seat belt.

If your pet gets carsick, you can skip their morning meal or get anti-nausea medication from your vet to help them feel less travel sick, says Dr. Barnard-Nguyen. You should also take frequent breaks at rest stops away from the road during a long car trip. Your pet will always appreciate a breath of fresh air.

Related: How to Prevent Car Sickness in Pets

In some areas, rest stops have been closed due to the pandemic. It could be more difficult to find places for a quick potty break. Check with the state you are passing through or visiting to make sure you know where you can stop. Pulling off alongside the road is never safe. You could be hit by a passing motorist or your pet could dart into traffic.

Consider installing smart car tech to make driving easier and your road trips safer for everyone. These include personal assistant apps (voice commands for driving), parking apps (find, share and pay for parking), GPS units, reversing cameras, blind-spot warning systems, and advanced drier-assistance systems.

Traveling by plane 

Taking your pet along for a trip that includes plane travel may not always be straightforward, but as with many things in life, it may be unavoidable. In such a case, here is some advice on how to keep pet travel safer and easier during COVID-19.

Arrive early for your departure, but not too soon. Allow some time for a walk to tire your pet out. Your pet will not be permitted to be outside of its crate or carrier once you are inside the airport. When flying with your pet, you must check-in at the counter. Approach the counter only once when you have all your documents ready, including your pet’s health certificate. Expect to wear a mask at a public airport, but pets are not subject to this requirement.

In the cabin or in the cargo hold?

With fewer people traveling due to stay-at-home orders issued by states and countries, the majority of commercial airlines are operating with fewer services for live animals, with many are suspending services altogether. American Airlines recently announced changes which include a relaxed seating policy, reduced food and beverage service and suspension of checked pets. Live animals cannot fly in United and Delta’s cargo hold either at the publishing of this post.

That being said, most airlines will fly you and your pet in the cabin during the COVID pandemic if your pet is small enough to conform to airline pet policies. You may find that the rules surrounding pets in the seating area of the plane are more relaxed. It’s worth calling up before making an online booking and having a chat with the airline about what is possible.

If you would like to take your pet into the passenger section, be sure the carrier can fit under the seat in front of you. You can contact your airline and ask them how much room their is on the aircraft that serves your route. Also, know that your pet must be able to stand up and turn around in the carrier.

If you find an airline who will take your pet. Booking your ticket early may allow your pet to travel in the passenger section. Call the airline before booking to check for restrictions. Book your ticket with the same agent to ensure your desires are not lost by switching to another agent or booking online. Request a non-stop flight or choose a weekend when planes are not as full.

Should your pet be required to travel in the cargo hold, it can be a traumatic experience, especially for timid breeds. To maximize their comfort, fly during the spring or fall and choose early morning or late evening flights. Temperatures will be cooler at those times. Be sure to include a bed or blanket to minimize vibrations.

Related: How to Keep Your Pet Cooler in High Temperatures

During the COVID pandemic, many airlines will fly larger or unaccompanied dogs as air cargo. With this class of service, you will check your pet in at your airline’s cargo facility. Plan on flying between larger airports.

Should you sedate your pet?

sedated pet
Courtesy of Pexels.com

Speak to your vet before giving your dog or cat calming products like sedatives and pheromones to reduce their anxiety while in the car, says Anne Chester, chief vet at the RSPCA, Brisbane. Benadryl is commonly used for dog anxiety relief in these sorts of situations, but you should always check with your vet before giving your pet any medicaion.

Sedatives are for consumption whereas pheromones are embedded collars worn around the neck or dispensed with diffusers. You can also try out all natural pet calmers when car training your pet, and if they react well, you can use them for your trip.

As for air travel, the American Veterinary Medical Association says sedatives and tranquilizer can create respiratory and cardiovascular distress at high altitudes. They can also interfere with balance and equilibrium, making the pet unsteady when being moved and put them at risk of injury. Most airlines will not accept a sedated pet flying in the cargo hold.

Give them a break

Once you arrive at your destination, get outside, take off your mask and take your pet for a long walk. It will do you both good. Renting the car, checking in at the hotel, or taking a cab should be put off for the few minutes. It will take to give your companion a badly-needed and well-deserved respite. It will also allow them to calm as their anxiety level decreases.

Be aware that in some areas, due to COVID, dog parks have been closed to adhere to social distancing. Finding a place to let your pet exercise should not be left to chance. Ask airport employees in advance where the nearest run is so you can get to it quickly.

Summing it up 

Keep in mind that areas may have established strict rules in deference to safety concerns relating to the spread of COVID-19. If you have questions about your destination country, you may want to contact their embassy.

No matter how you are traveling, or where you and your pet are traveling to, call ahead and make sure you can accommodate laws that have been established to keep everyone safer during the pandemic.

With the proper preparation, you can enjoy safe and worry-free pet travel and COVID-19 will not pose surprises for you.

Is it Safe to Travel with Your Dog During the Coronavirus Crisis?

Thousands of years ago, humans began traveling with their canine companions ? and the yearning for side-by-side adventures has been with us ever since. We love to take our dogs with us everywhere we go, but these are unprecedented times. Is it safe to travel with your dog during the coronavirus crisis? The answer is yes as long as certain precautions are taken.

Is it safe to travel with your dog during the corona virus
Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

It?s important to follow official guidelines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer guidance for pet owners and travelers alike. They begin with reassurance that, at least for now, there is no evidence that animals play a major part in spreading the COVID-19 virus through the human population.

At the same time, CDC mentions that it appears humans can spread COVID-19 to pets. To date, such incidents are rare, with only a very few dogs testing positive, and slightly more, but still a small number of cats. That said, current guidance from the CDC encourages dog owners to treat their pets with the same caution they use to minimize the risk of exposure in human family members.

This means following social distancing recommendations and keeping at least six feet of space between your pet, other humans, and other dogs.  Limiting contact is still the best way to protect your pet and yourself from potential exposure to COVID-19.

It?s often safe to travel with your dog.

Since you?re taking precautions for your own safety, you can put similar safeguards in place for your dog. Traveling during the coronavirus crisis means planning well in advance. It might mean knowing what to anticipate at the airport and during your flight, or plotting your route with a little added care if you?re traveling by car with your pet.

Travel with a dog in the car
Courtesy of Pexels

The CDC has issued a complete guide to travel with an eye toward keeping everyone safer, whether getting from one place to the other by air, land, or sea. Besides checking for updates at the national level, check for local restrictions in areas you?ll be traveling through.

Follow essential guidelines like washing your hands, not touching your face, using a cloth face covering in public and minimizing contact with others. These are some of the things you need to do to travel with a dog during the coronavirus crisis.

It?s OK to be friendly but keep your dog socially distant from others as well. Even though there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transferred between individuals after contact with pets; there are so many unknowns that allowing others to pet your dog simply isn?t worth the risk.

Related: Traveling with an Older Dog ? What You Need to Know

Vet checks are vital

As always, it?s important to ensure that your dog has all vaccinations required for your destination.  You can find specific information on what your dog will need to travel to different destinations. Your vet can provide you with specific guidance, too.

Once your dog has had a checkup and received any necessary vaccinations, get copies of their health records to carry with you. Keep them in a spot that?s easy to access. Be sure to have electronic copies too just in case anything is lost.

Consider your destination and your own health status

As your dog?s caretaker, it?s important to look after your own health. Look for statistics concerning the spread of COVID-19 at your destination and decide if you feel that it?s safe to travel there. If not, you might be able to choose a different destination or postpone your trip until it?s safe to travel with your dog.

You might also consider a non-urban destination where there are fewer people and social distancing is easier. The countryside, fresh air and long walks will be your best friend’s preference too!

Anticipating challenges can help ease airport stress

Reduce stress at airports
Courtesy of Pixabay

Air travel can be challenging even during the best of times. During the coronavirus crisis, traveling, especially with your dog, may present new challenges.

Double-checking in advance to ensure that you can fly with your dog is only part of the big picture. Remember that added safety measures such as temperature checks are intended to serve as an extra layer of protection for everyone. Give yourself plenty of time to go through the process of making your way through the terminal and onto your flight, so you feel less stressed.

Know ahead of time whether your dog will be allowed to fly in the cabin or if they?ll be traveling in the cargo hold. Private jet travel is a hassle-free option if it is in your budget. It is one that?s almost certainly safer in terms of potential exposure to coronavirus, too.

Related: 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Traveling with a Pet

Know quarantine rules

Countries around the world have used quarantine measures to prevent potentially infected travellers spreading coronavirus into their country. So, if you?re planning on traveling overseas, here?s what you need to know on quarantine rules:

  • U.S. – Many states in America (e.g. Florida) require 14 days of quarantine for some out of state visitors. You can see a full list of state quarantine rules here.
  • Turkey – Turkey, UAE and other countries will require 14 days of quarantine. Pet owners need to confirm that they can self quarantine at their destination address; otherwise they will need to make arrangements for their pet should they need to quarantine in a government facility
  • Spain – Quarantine since May 15, not yet lifted but ministers aim to reopen borders in July
  • Greece – Quarantine of arrivals since March 16, hoping to lift June 15 and at the latest July 1
  • Taiwan – Quarantine since March 14, currently undergoing a trial to see if it can be lifted
  • Germany – Quarantine of new arrivals since April 10, announcement it would be lifted for EU arrivals made on May 15
  • Italy – Quarantine since March 28, to be lifted June 3
  • France – Quarantine of some arrivals since May 3, restrictions to be “gradually” lifted from mid-June

Have a contingency plan

The coronavirus crisis is rapidly evolving and everything can change at the drop of a hat. It?s a good idea to have a backup plan in place, just in case.

Make plans for someone to care for your dog while you?re away, in case they aren?t able to travel with you at the last minute. Many pet boarding and kenneling businesses are still open, and private pet sitters are another option.

Prep for this possibility by putting your dog?s complete health records together. Add contact information for your vet and any other emergency contacts who might be able to help if plans change. Let everyone on your list know what you?re doing. Make sure that they?re OK with stepping up in case you and your dog need help in an emergency situation.

Have food, bedding and other essentials available in case your dog needs to stay with someone else as a last resort.

Final thoughts

Remember to consult your vet and keep a close eye out for any changes that might affect your itinerary. With careful planning and insight, it can be fun ? and safe ? to travel with your dog during the coronavirus crisis.

How You Can Support Your Local Animal Shelter

Americans love to treat their pets as family, but we all know there are far too many pets out there who do not have a home. Homeless animals in the United States is a problem of massive proportions. Roughly 6.5 million animals enter shelters every year, and sadly 1.5 million of those animals will end up euthanized due to lack of homes and resources to care for them. If you are a pet lover, you’ve already adopted as many pets as you feel comfortable caring for, but you may wish you could still do more. For people like you, the best thing to do is to support your local animal shelter – the last beacon of hope for all homeless pets.

There are more than 3,500 animal shelters in the United States, and that number jumps to 14,000 when you include animal rescue groups. There are always more homeless pets than there are shelters to house them which is why they serve such an important role in our communities.

Let’s talk about what animal shelters do and how you can help to give them the support they need. Even if you don’t have money to donate, there are many ways to help serve shelter missions of finding a home for every pet. If you love animals and want to give back to the community, supporting an animal shelter is a fantastic way to do so.

Adopt a dog to support your local animal shelter
Source: Wikimedia Commons

How Animal Shelters Serve their Communities

Animal shelters offer a variety of critical services to the communities in which they are located. The most prominent role they play is taking in stray animals or pets from people who can’t keep them any longer and finding new forever homes for them. If you have ever adopted a pet, you know how good it feels going to a shelter and finding the perfect new family member.

Without this central community hub of intakes and adoptions, many pets would be abandoned by their owners, and people would be more likely to buy from pet shops or puppy mills, further exacerbating the homeless pet problem.

Animal shelters also play a critical role in reuniting lost pets and their families. Dogs and cats get out of their homes and wander into the neighborhood but don’t know how to find their way back, and animal shelters often find these animals and give them a place to stay until their owners come looking for them.

More Support for Animal Shelters Means More Lives Saved

Although animal shelters do their best to save animals and connect them with loving owners, every shelter has their limit as to the number of animals they can care for. While some animal shelters are “no kill”, the sad truth is that there are simply too many homeless animals to be adopted out. There are not enough resources for every animal to be given a temporary home for their entire lives which leads to euthanizing healthy pets that don’t get adopted.

Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals get euthanized – and we can do better than that.

Shelter Dog Pidgy
One of the author’s adopted dogs, Pidgy

Those who work at animal shelters often put in long hours and don’t get much pay for what they do, but they do it anyway because they love animals and believe in the cause. Their mission is to save as many animals as possible. Your support could make a difference in the lives of countless animals in your area.

How to Support Your Local Animal Shelter

Many people want to support their local shelter but don’t know where they should begin. Whether you’ve already adopted a pet or two or you’re looking for a new family member, there are ways for everyone to pitch in and help out. Here is a list of some great ways you can help serve your local animal shelter.

Adopt a Pet

Since most animal shelters are overcrowded, a lot of the animals will stay there for a while before finding an owner who loves them. While some animals will never find a home, you can change the life of one animal by adopting a pet from your local shelter.

Many shelters have a variety of breeds from which you can choose, and they will help you find an animal that matches your personality and lifestyle. Shelters are grateful for each person who adopts an animal from them. During the Coronavirus outbreak most local shelters are still adopting out animals; however, they require you to call and make an appointment to come see the pets.

Donate Time

Donate your time to an animal shelter if you would like to help and love spending time with animals. Shelters almost always need volunteers to feed and water the animals in their facilities, take the dogs on walks, and help socialize animals who never got much attention from their previous owners.

Socializing animals is a vital step in the adoption process because it gets animals used to being around people again, especially if they were treated poorly in the past. You can walk dogs or play with them in their cages so that they get to better relate to humans. After you socialize the animals in the shelter, you can help match them with caring families who will love them for years to come.

Seeing the impact you make with helping animals get adopted is a reward in itself!

volunteer at your local animal shelter
Courtesy of Unsplash

Donate Money

Volunteering at local animal shelters is fulfilling and a great way to give back to your community. Not everyone has enough time or energy to volunteer at the animal shelter in their town, but you can still help by donating money.

Shelters have a constant need for funds to feed, house and care for the animals under their supervision. Shelters even use the money you donate to launch adoption campaigns to help animals find places to live with loving families.

The medical services that shelters provide to the animals in their care are often overlooked, but among the most important functions. Shelters have to pay for spay and neuter surgeries which cost hundreds of dollars each. There’s also a lot of preventative medicine they provide to their animals to prevent things like heartworm and tick borne diseases from harming the animals.

Donate Resources

Shelters are always looking for pet beds, blankets, towels, newspaper, pet toys, bowls, leashes and any pet-related items you may have. If you have a pet crate or pet carrier from a previous trip that you no longer need, this will be put to good use at your local shelter. Some shelters even have an Amazon Wish List that they link to from their website or Facebook page. You can use this to take a see what they’re in need of and see if you have the supplies to donate.

If you wish to make a donation of pet food, contact your local shelter before you purchase it to see what types of food they need. Some shelters will also accept opened bags of pet food but others won’t due to safety concerns or lack of appropriate storage

Raise Awareness

If you are looking for even more ways to support your local animal shelter, raising awareness for them is more helpful than you may think. Everyone has a platform and an audience today with our social media profiles. Letting your circle of friends know about adoption drives or fundraising events can let you support your local animal shelter by getting pets get adopted and money donated second-hand.

If you see someone talking about buying a pet on a public forum you can also jump in and suggest a local animal shelter and share your story of why adopting a pet is better than shopping, especially over the Internet where pet scams are rampant.

Leave a Review

Shelters are often so focused on serving the animals in their care that they don’t have time to think about marketing or the online presence of their organization. By not proactively asking their visitors and supporters to leave a review for them online, they can often be bombarded with negative comments and reviews for very silly reasons. It’s not uncommon to see a 1-star review when someone was denied adoption because they didn’t bring the necessary paperwork with them, or the pet they wanted was already adopted when they arrived.

Get out there and leave the kind of review the shelters deserve on platforms like Facebook, Google Maps, and Yelp. If the ratings of your local shelter are too low, potential adopters might avoid the organizations and end up buying from a breeder or pet shop instead.

Spay or Neuter Your Pets

The world has more animals than people who can properly care for them, and this problem causes countless animals to be homeless each year. Animal shelters would love to hear that every animal has a home, even if it means their services aren’t needed anymore!

spay or neuter your pet
Courtesy of Pexels

By spaying or neutering your pet, you potentially prevent hundreds or thousands of offspring years from now. Regardless of how old your pet is or where you got it from, spaying your pet directly serves the mission of animal shelters and will prevent more pets from being euthanized.

When in Doubt, Reach Out

Animal shelters have a difficult and challenging job. They constantly fight to better the lives of animals without a voice, knowing that the battle to end homeless pets is likely to continue indefinitely.

If you are unsure about how best to support your local animal shelter , give them a call or send them an email asking how you can best help them out. Their needs will change based on demand for adoptions and the supply of homeless pets in the area, so talking to someone at the organization is the perfect way to give them what they need while building a relationship that matters.

Kyle Holgate is a proud dog dad and animal blogger. He often writes about all things dogs and dog nutrition with a data-driven approach on his website Woof Whiskers. Kyle has a Golden/Aussie mix named Kartoffel and a Husky mix named Pidgy.

Adopting a Pet During a Crisis

This is an unprecedented time in world history. All over the world, people are mandated to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel to stop the spread of the corona virus. How can adopting of pet during a crisis ease the anxiety and boredom caused by confinement? Here are a few reasons.

Saving a soul

Adopt a pet during a crisis
Courtesy of Pexels

The Humane Society always encourages people to adopt or foster a pet, but especially in times of confinement due to a crisis. Many shelters across the country have placed record numbers of dogs and cats, and many applications are up by 50 percent or more. Why has fostering or adoption become so popular?

Having spare time

Most people not involved in “essential” work have plenty of time on their hands during lockdown. What better to fill the hours that a loving dog or cat that so appreciates not being housed in a cage but part of a family that has time to devote attention to it.

Wanting to help

We are involved in a situation which cannot be referred to as anything else than a crisis. Most people want to help where they can. Adopting a pet during a crisis can ease the burden on shelters that are currently being staffed by a skeleton crew, and is a great way that people can help.

A sense of normal

Fostering or adopting a pet during a crisis can help your family survive the boredom of a lock down, especially for children. Pets teach responsibility when it is a child’s job to feed and walk a pet. Schedules are established which bring structure and meaning to the day for everyone.

Pets can fill our extra time by demanding our attention, whether it be for fun, love or exercise. Shelter pets especially crave attention and we have time to give this to them during confinement.

Isolation and loneliness

Pets help in times of isolation

Confinement brings particularly lonely times for people who live alone. Reaching out to friends and family is important. If you have a pet in your home, you will never be alone. The comfort and devotion that a pet offers is priceless in times of isolation.

Health benefit

The worry of getting sick and having financial issues associated with a crisis can produce great uneasiness and anxiety in many people.

Pets provide the comfort that produces measurable health results. It has been proven that being around pets can cause a chemical chain reaction in the brain that may help to lower stress hormones. It also increases the production of serotonin which is a hormone that makes us feel good.

A recent study from the Mayo Clinic, looked at 1,800 people between the ages of 25 and 64 who had healthy hearts, and found that almost half of them owned a dog.

All dogs and some cats require exercise and people need that too. This is something you can share with benefits all around.

Love and devotion

Most importantly, the comfort and devotion that comes with a dog or cat can be very settling to an individual or a family, and is proven to ease anxiety, give meaning and produce positive attitude to a family with a pet.

A pet can bring everyone together to love, play and exercise. A pet can bring companionship and build unity within a family unit.

How to care for your pet during the crisis

Take time to get to know your pet

girl hugging dog
Courtesy of Pexels.com

Understand that your home is a “known” environment for you, but a new environment for your pet. They may be scared or overwhelmed at first, especially if they are an older dog. Give them the opportunity to choose a master. This is usually the one who feeds them or doles out discipline. Most pets bond to everyone but tend to gravitate to one person above others.

Have a plan for your pet in case you get sick

You should have a plan for your pet in case you develop symptoms of the virus. Someone should be available to care for your pet should you need to seek medical attention, isolate or go to the hospital. That person should be familiar with your pet’s feeding, walking and medication schedules.

Identify your pet

If your pet is microchipped, then register your information in the chip manufacturer’s database or make sure the shelter has your contact information, if for any reason it is separated from you. If not chipped, then be sure that your cell phone number is on a tag on your dog’s collar.

Gather supplies for your pet

You should have at least 2 weeks of pet food on hand and bottled water if you do not drink your city or county water.

You should visit your local pet store for fun toys and treats. Toys can provide extra exercise for home bound pets and treats can be used in training. Be sure and pick up some waste bags as well. Everyone should do their part to keep our green spaces clean.

Consider an all-natural pet calmer. The attention that your pet receives from a new family can over stimulate them. When it is time to chill, it may be useful to have something that will encourage your pet to calm down.

Address any medical issues

If your pet has any medical issues or requires medication or supplements, be sure you understand what you need to do to maintain their health. You can speak to the shelter or the shelter’s veterinarian about this.

Have fun with your pet

Play with your pet
courtesy of Unsplash

Have fun with your pet. Teach them a new trick. Everyone can be a part of this effort and it is certainly fulfilling to see your pet learn from you.

Wash and groom your pet. This can also be a family function that is fun for all. A clean pet is a happier pet. If fleas or ticks are a problem in your neighborhood, speak to the veterinarian about treatment.

Consider a long-term relationship

Consider a long-term relationship if you are fostering. The bond between a pet and its family is strong and can occur quickly. What a disappointment will it be for your pet to return it to the shelter once the crisis has passed. If you cannot accommodate a pet under normal, post-crisis environment, try to find a loving family for it.

There is no denying that the comfort and devotion that a pet will offer an individual or family will make any period of isolation more tolerable. Consider fostering or adopting a pet during a crisis and make everyone’s life better.

7 Mistakes to Avoid When Traveling with a Pet

If you’re a pet lover, then chances are you’ll take your dog or cat with you on a trip. But before you see yourself romping on the beach with your dog or cat or hiking in the mountains, taking selfies and posting them on social media, consider how much preparation you’ll need for your kind of trip. To ensure that the trip with your pet goes well, here are seven mistakes to avoid when traveling with a pet.

Not Booking Your Travel in Advance

Making a pet friendly booking is one of the mistakes to avoid when traveling with a pet

Booking your transportation and hotel in advance is essential for any travel; however, you’ll have to go the extra mile if you decide to take your pet with you. Make sure that any transportation you need to use on your trip (an airplane, a car, etc.) will accommodate your pet. Also, make sure that you book a hotel that allows pets inside their facilities, and, most importantly, make a reservation for your pet. Having the right accommodations reserved will help to avoid stress from last-minute prep.

Not Checking Pet Policies

Just like any other type of travel, traveling with your pet comes with rules. Whether you’re taking a plane, a bus, a train, etc., all modes of transportations will have pet policies. Before you travel, read up on policies, procedures and charges that you must adhere to. If you have any other questions and concerns that aren’t addressed in the published policies, feel free to give them a call or shoot them an email. Voicing any concerns ahead of time will save you from the embarrassment of being turned away at the hotel, airport or train station, because of a violation that you weren’t aware of beforehand.

Not Properly Restraining Your Pet in a Car

An unrestrained dog in car is a serious mistake when traveling with a pet
Courtesy of Unsplash

One of the most dangerous mistakes to avoid when traveling with a pet in your car is letting your pet have free roam or hang their head out the window, especially if your dog or cat isn’t too comfortable with the riding in a car. Not to mention, your pet can become a distraction, while you’re driving – the danger posed by that distraction the equivalent to texting while driving.

Organizations like AAA have cautioned the public to use carriers or restraining harnesses on your pet, when they’re inside the car. Securing your pet in the car can prevent distractions and keep your pet from stumbling or making any wrong moves that can result in injury. But whatever you do, don’t let pets sit in the front seat; they’ll get badly hurt if an airbag is activated. Also, never leave your pet alone in a car, especially during hot weather. Like babies and little children, pets will die from extremely hot temperatures.

Not Ensuring Your Destination is Pet-Friendly

Is your travel destination pet-friendly? Do shops and establishments allow pets inside? Are there any dog parks where you’re going? These are the questions that you should consider and research when picking a destination for you, your family and your pet.

While some cities, towns and businesses allow dogs to join in on sightseeing, touring, and even being allowed inside; vacations like camping, glamping and staying in a bed and breakfast or inn tend to be a lot more pet-friendly since they are less confined and your pet is exposed to less hustle and bustle.

Also, take note of the time of year that you plan to travel. Summer tends to be the most popular time to travel with your pet, especially if you’re a dog person. Be aware that airlines will not fly live animals in the cargo hold during periods of high temperatures. If you must fly in the summer, book flights that depart and land early in the morning or late at night when temperatures are not extreme.

Additionally, consider finding a travel destination that has patios or parks that welcome pets. In other words, do your research on places and activities first, before considering your “vacay” spot for you and your pet.

Not Having the Right Documentation

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Like humans need passports, pets need to have their own pet passports (i.e. documentation), when you travel abroad. In fact, many countries require the following for international pet travel:

  • Pet health certificate
  • Pet health insurance (not mandatory, but recommended)
  • Prove of vaccinations including rabies
  • Rabies titer test (some countries)
  • Import permit (some countries)
  • Parasite treatment (some countries
  • Passport for your pet – collection of all documentation
  • Endorsement of documentation by government veterinarian

In addition, your pet must be microchipped, before you travel internationally, since many countries require this. So, don’t get caught unprepared – have documentation available.

Not Providing Proper Care During Travel

Not thinking about the care your pet will need during travel is one of the common mistakes to avoid when traveling with a pet.

Pets need food and water; and they need frequent care as well. Traveling is no exception. Granted, if your pet is flying, it cannot be attended to during flight; however, you can take some steps prior to travel that will help them adjust.

It is a good idea to taper down the amount of food you give your pet slowly prior to travel unless it has medical needs. Pets should not be fed within 4-6 hours of travel. However, make sure that your pet gets plenty of water, and that they get necessary potty breaks every so often prior to boarding.

You’ll have to pack for your pet as well. Pack all the necessary items, such as a sturdy leash, toiletries, pet hygiene products, treats, toys, towels, and any medications that your pet takes. Though, you may want to check the rules and regulations that your mode of transportation may have (an airline, for example, if you’re flying). Just like booking your travel and hotel stays, not planning ahead is a mistake to avoid when traveling with a pet.

Not Considering that a Change in Routine and Environment can be Upsetting to your Pet

Upset dog
Photo Courtesy of Pexels

One way that pets learn is through routines as well as past experiences. If your pet has not traveled before, the changes in environment and stimulation can be very unsettling to them.

Home is where your pet is comfortable with their surroundings. But when you and your pet are traveling, not only can they exhibit shyness when going to a new place and learning a new routine, but they might be frightened at the prospect of traveling.

So, before you take that big leap with your pet, consider smaller, shorter trips, so that they can get acclimated to traveling. As you build that trust with your pet, they’ll eventually be more than willing to tag along on your next adventure.

Acclimating your pet to its crate or carrier is one of the best things you can do to lessen stress on your pet. More on carrier and crate acclimation here.

Prepping for pet travel may take a lot of work and effort; but in the end, it’s totally worth it for you and your furry friend. Learn from these common mistakes to avoid when traveling with a pet, and your trip will be easy and enjoyable for everyone.

Catherine Meisner is writes for Luckyassignments.com. Not only does she show great interest in social media marketing, but she also loves writing about topics related to health, food, and beauty. In her free time, she loves gym-going and visiting new places.

What To Do When You Must Leave Your Pet Behind At The Last Minute

Today is travel day. You have loaded up the car, heading to the airport with your family and your pets with plenty of time to spare in the case of heavy traffic or other delays. You get to your airline’s check-in counter, and your pets are denied by the check-in agent. Your flight cannot be rescheduled and you must leave your pet behind.

Or, you have packed up the car with family and your pets, you turn the key in the ignition, and nothing happens. You must leave today, and the taxi you summon does not accept pets.  

These are the last things you need to happen when traveling, but they do happen, nonetheless. If you prepare in advance, you can cope with emergencies like this and know what to do when you must leave your pet behind at the last minute.

Leaving your pet behind suddenly when you have planned carefully for your vacation can be extremely stressful for both you and your pet. This is especially true if you are traveling internationally or will be gone for an extended period of time. In these cases, most pet owners have made preparations necessary to bring their pets with them.

Thankfully, the travel industry has made it easier to take our pets with us no matter how we travel. More hotels are allowing well-behaved pets to stay on the premises. And published pet import policies for foreign countries makes it easier for pet owners to understand what kind of documentation is needed to cross borders with their animals.

pet friendly hotel
Courtesy of Pexels

But no matter how carefully you may plan, unforeseen situations may occur that cause your pet to be left behind. Here are some scenarios to help illustrate this point.

Problems with Documentation

What if the requirements change for importing your pet into a country or you did not understand what vaccinations were needed? Or perhaps the documentation you provided was not properly endorsed by a government veterinarian? 

In these cases, your airline will not permit your pet to board. If they are negligent in checking the paperwork, and your pet arrives at a foreign destination, it will be refused entry, quarantined and returned to the origination at your expense if it does not comply with the rules.

Crate or Carrier Issues

Maybe your crate or carrier was deemed by agents as being inadequate to transport your pet safely. Your carrier was too big or too small, did not have adequate ventilation or was not secure enough. Or your pet’s crate was not IATA-compliant.

Maybe the aircraft that serves your route is not approved to fly animals because the temperature and pressure in the cargo hold of the aircraft is not regulated. 

Maybe you did not make a reservation for your pet far enough in advance, and there is no room on your flight for their crate or carrier. 

Maybe your airline has restrictions on the breeds that can travel on their flights, and your pet is a snub-nosed or aggressive dog breed.. 

Maybe your pet is not in visible good health.

Maybe the stress of the situation makes your dog display aggressive behavior.

Finally, maybe there may be problems with your connecting flight, and your pet may not have clearance through to its final destination. 

Pet Owner Emergencies

Sometimes pet owners may experience emergencies that cause them to have to travel at the drop of a hat. This may mean that the pet owner has been unable to make the proper travel arrangements before they are forced to leave the country. Preparing a dog or cat to travel takes time. Sometimes there is simply not enough time and your pet must stay behind.

Pet Health Emergencies

As with children, pets can get sick at the last minute. The worst thing you can do is expose them to the stress of traveling when they are sick.

Lost Pets

What if your pet becomes lost while you are traveling? If your pet is not microchipped, the chances of them being reunited with you are significantly reduced. In fact, one study shows that over 80% of pets that are not microchipped and registered are not returned to their owner.

Auto Failures

Despite the fact that you had your car serviced prior to travel day, it won’t start when you need it to and you need to take a taxi to the airport. The ride may or may not accept pets, especially larger ones.

So, what is a pet owner to do if their beloved pet must be left behind? Here are some steps to take if you find yourself in this situation.

Always have a backup on hand

Find someone to care for your pet in the short term. If you are lucky enough to have a family member, neighbor or friend in the vicinity, ask this person to care for your pet and help you arrange for their transportation home. Know that pets can fly without their owners through airline air cargo services.

If you don’t know anyone where you are, contact a veterinarian or a licensed boarding facility. Most people who work with animals will understand the stress of the situation and will do anything they can to help reunite you with your best friend.

Know the pet import regulations of your country

If your pet is flying (or driving) internationally, it will need a new health certificate. The health certificate you intended to use may no longer be valid as many certificates expire in 3-10 days.

Arrange for someone to take your pet to a licensed veterinarian for the certificate.

If your pet was restricted due to health reasons, make sure the person left in charge of your pet understands that care may be needed before your pet will be allowed to travel. 

This party may need to use your pet’s health insurance to get the proper vaccinations or care required before boarding the plane. If your pet is not currently covered by health insurance, you can get a free quote  here

Make sure your pet’s crate is airline compliant

Your pet’s crate should be large enough for your pet to move around, but small enough to fit in the cargo space. Check the International Air Transport Association website for specific information regarding the appropriate size. Be aware that you will pay a cargo fee based on the weight of the animal and the weight of the crate.

Pick your flight carefully

Your pet may undergo stress during the journey home. To make the trip as stress-free as possible, find flights that are nonstop. If your pet is traveling through high temperature regions, consider booking overnight flights. Be aware that most airlines won’t allow pets in the cargo hold if the temperature exceeds 85 degrees F (30 degrees C) or drops below 45 degrees F (7 degrees C). 

pet in crate offloaded from aircraft

Prepare for take-off

Ask your caregiver to make sure proper care is taken by the airline before leaving your pet in their care. Ask your overseas helper to take care before leaving your pet at the airport. Ask them to double-check that the cargo hold is pressure and temperature controlled. Ask them to make sure that the your pet and its crate are correctly identified. Ask your helper to make sure your pet has enough food and water to last the trip. 

Hire a transport agent

Consider hiring the services of a pet transport company.

If you are not able to find an individual you trust with the task of transporting your pet, hire professionals for the job. Ask for recommendations for a pet transport company in the area or search for a licensed agent at IPATA.org. These transporters know the international requirements for unaccompanied pet travel and will make sure your animal arrives home safely.

dog with owner at the airport

Even though being separated from your beloved pet may cause you to panic, know that millions of unaccompanied pets travel safely each year. Prepare for the unexpected emergency and, in case something happens, you what to do when you must leave your pet behind.

Kristina Marshall is a stay-at-home blogger. After having kids, she began sharing some of her diy tricks for around the house with people in the community. She then started answering some questions on Yahoo and Quora, and now she writes full articles on tips for around the house, lifestyle tips and more.

How to Transport a Reptile

Reptiles can be great pets. They don’t need a lot of effort to thrive in our homes. If they have the correct environment and adequate attention, they will be happy. Their lack of care requirements extends to moving them as well; however, there are precautions that must be taken to ensure their safety. Knowing how to transport a reptile safely is essential and preparations prior to the move must be made.

Reptiles are tetrapod (four-footed) animals in the class Reptilia, including turtles, crocodiles, alligators, snakes, amphibians, lizards, tuatara, and their extinct relatives. Because reptiles have a slow metabolism and cannot maintain a constant body temperature, they are particularly sensitive to changes in in their environment.

Because reptiles maintain their body temperature through their surroundings, it is important to provide materials that will help mimic the humidity and temperature of their natural environment. More on this later.

In this post, we will discuss the transport of smaller reptiles such as turtles, frogs, snakes and lizards. We will leave the transport of alligators and crocodiles to the experts!

If you plan on transporting your reptile yourself, here are a few of the most important tips to keep in mind.

How to transport a snake
Courtesy of Mohan Moolepetlu on Unsplash


Properly and safely packing as well as transporting your pet reptile doesn’t just begin on the day you move. There are a number of steps you should complete before that day arrives:

  • Purchase the proper container or have one made for your pet. Whether you choose a pre-made or custom-made container will be determined by the size and type of your reptile and the method of transport. Poisonous reptiles need to be wrapped in a cloth sack before being placed in a secured container. Tie off the sack and place it in a stiff-sided container with ventilation holes and a “live animal” sign on the outside. For more information on container requirements, read on.
  • Once you have your container, it is time to get your reptile acclimated to their carrier or crate. Don’t disrupt their entire daily schedule, as this could stress them before moving day even arrives. However, you will want to place your reptile in their carrying container for an hour or two every day for a week or more leading up to the move. This allows them time to get used to the new environment and may cut down on their stress when it is time to move them.
  • Before you move your reptile, it is also a good idea to ensure that your pet is in good health. Make sure to visit your veterinarian within 10 days of traveling. They can check out your reptile and provide a health certificate for your pet. For exotic animals, a health certificate is essential for travel.
  • Local and state laws in the United States may restrict what types of reptiles can be imported. Many countries have laws restricting reptiles as well. Make sure you are aware of any laws pertaining to your specific reptile.

How to pack your reptile

Now the big day has arrived. You’ve followed all the steps outlined above, and everything is ready for you to move your reptile. However, you still need to ensure that your pet is properly packed. Here’s how.

  • As mentioned above, the container you use to pack your reptile should neither be too big nor too small. If it is too small, your reptile won’t be able to move properly. If it is too large, your pet could get thrown around and injured during transport. More on this below.
  • You may want to consider adding either heating or cooling elements (and thermostats or hygrometers) to the container to keep your reptile’s body temperature stable. Whether you need the heating or cooling pads will depend on the season and type of reptile. This step is especially important if you will be moving your pet via air.
  • When flying with your reptile, the IATA Live Animal Regulations state that food and water will not be necessary unless it is a very long trip. In the case of flying long-haul with your reptile, water and food containers (troughs) are required to be attached to the inside of the container with feeding instructions taped to the top of the crate.
  • If your reptile needs a moist environment, make sure to purchase a water-proof container. You can then line the bottom of the container with moist towels to provide the wet environment they need it. If your pet does not need a moist environment, you should consider placing dry towels at the bottom of the container to cushion it during travel.
  • If you are flying or traveling internationally, you will need to visit your veterinarian within 10 days of transport. Attach your pet’s health certificate on the outside or top of the container in a plastic bag marked DO NOT REMOVE. It should be in plain view at all times. See more below about flying with a reptile.
  • Do not add rocks, sticks, or other items to the contents of your pet’s crate. While these items could make the container feel more like home, they can also move during transport and hurt your pet.

How to transport your reptile by car

When your reptile is securely and properly packed in their container, it is time to load up the car. Follow these steps to make moving day as stress-free as possible.

  • Again, make sure you have the right size pet carrier for your reptile. The carrier should be large enough so your reptile can move around, but not so big that they can slide around on the drive. Always plan to secure it in place, either with a seat belt or other items in the car that will discourage the carrier from shifting.
  • Make sure to keep your reptile out of the direct sunlight or invest in window visors to block out light.
  • Keep your stops to a minimum, and never leave your reptile unattended in the car. If you must leave them for a minute, make sure there is a window left slightly open.
  • Cars can get too hot or too cold quicker than you might guess, so make sure you control the temperature inside the carrier as we explained earlier. If you’re traveling from a hot climate to a cold one, a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel will keep your reptile cozy. Or if it’s the other way around, a cold pack in your reptile’s carrier will keep your pet cool. Either way, the surface of the container should not touch your pet’s skin.
  • Check on your pet every time you stop to ensure that they are comfortable and safe. Although they may be hiding in the folds of the towel, do not open their carrier as this will provide an avenue for escape.
How to transport a reptile
Photo by Liam Edwards on Unsplash

How to Transport your Reptile by Air

Sometimes driving is simply not possible and you need to fly your pet. Commercial airlines will require that your reptile fly as air cargo. In this case, you must have a health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian within 10 days of travel.

You may need an export permit issued by a government agency responsible for the import and export of reptiles. In the United States, this is the US Fish and Wildlife Association.

You will also need to verify that your reptile is not covered by The Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) regulations. Generally, permits are issued by the government agency in your country responsible for the protection of wildlife.

Many foreign countries require import permits for reptiles so be sure and verify those requirements.

There are also are specific requirements that must be met regarding their crates and these can be confirmed by contacting your airline’s cargo department.

  1. When sizing your pet’s crate, measure your pet from tip of snout to vent (end of body not including the tail) and also the body width and length of tail. Your pet’s crate should accommodate the snout to vent length + half of the tail length. 

    With snakes, measure the widest part of the body and the length of your snake. Always measure your pet while in an extended, resting position. Your crate should allow every inch of the bottom of your snake to touch the bottom of the crate.

    The height of the crate should not be more than 1-2 inches higher than the height of your reptile to avoid injury if jumping. Smaller tree frogs will need 3 inches in height clearance.
  2. Crates should have adequate ventilation. If you are transporting your reptile to and from areas with high temperatures, your crate will need more ventilation than if you are transporting to areas with low temperatures.
  3. All crates must be labeled and marked prior to transport. Labels should not interfere with ventilation.  A shipping declaration should be included reflecting your name and contact information. LIVE ANIMAL and THIS WAY UP labels must be adhered to all 4 sides of the crate.
  4. Your pet’s crate must be sturdy and well-constructed out of non-toxic materials while not offering any sharp edges or other protrusions that could injure your pet during transport. There must be no gaps that would allow any escape from the crate. The door must be constructed so that your pet cannot open it or squeeze through a grid. The crate must have a handle or spacers to allow baggage handlers to move the crate without danger of being harmed.

    Plastic crates are permitted for snakes less than 24 inches in length and turtles less than 4 inches in length.
  5. Absorbent bedding that is appropriate for your reptile should be placed in the bottom of the crate. Straw and moss are not advised as many countries will not allow it. The bottom of the crate should have spacers to avoid direct contact with the floor which would encourage temperature change.
  6. Inner containers made of polystyrene may be beneficial to maintain a constant temperature.
  7. Hot and cold packs can be used; however, check with your airline’s cargo department to see if they will accept hot and cold packs. These packs should not come in direct contact with your reptile and should be insulated.
  8. Reptiles that are cannibalistic should always be packed separately. Any dividers in the crate must be attached to the crate and sturdy so that they will not collapse during transport.
  9. Pet owners of aquatic amphibians should provide an inner enclosure of rigid plastic or double plastic bag with 1/3 water, 1/3 pure oxygen and 1/3 air.

Of course, if you are unable to transport and move your pet yourself, you can always hire Pet Travel Transport to do the job for you. They have plenty of experience safely and properly packing, transporting, and moving reptiles domestically and internationally.

How to transport your turtle
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Once you get there

You did it. You have arrived and successfully and safely transported your reptile. Now what?

Now it is time to begin acclimating your pet to their new home. Make sure that their normal environment is set up before you take them out of their container. Also, remember that moving day was probably quite stressful for your pet. Handle them with more care than normal, as their behavior may be different. As soon as you can, return to your pet’s normal daily schedule. This will ease their transition to their new home.

Properly packing, transporting, and moving a reptile can seem like a challenge. The tips provided here will help you with how to transport a reptile. Of course, there will always be some stress. But, when you approach the move with the right attitude and follow the correct steps, you and your reptile can get to your destination safely.

Contributor: Anoop Nain is the proud father of four rescued dogs and two Flemish giant rabbits. Although his “puppers” are grown up, each day with them is a new learning experience for him. He has a degree in Animal Behavior and Welfare.