More and more families are taking their pets with them on vacation, including when they are travelling to the USA. Here are some things to consider when travelling with your pets.
When travelling by car it is always safest to have your pets crated. Cats tend to feel safer, and it prevents them from trying to crawl and hide in inconvenient spots or under feet. Dogs are also safest when in a crate, but other options like canine seatbelts do exist. Make sure your pet is comfortable in their crate or seat belt prior to starting a long journey. Dog should always be on leash before letting them out of the car. They may always stay by your side in their regular environments, but when away from home they may encounter something new that can be scary, and you don’t want them able to get away from you and rush in front of a passing car!
Having proper ID on your pet is also important. They should travel with an ID tag on their collar with your phone number, and don’t forget to include your area code if you are travelling far from home! Cell numbers are best if you will have that phone with you. Having your pet microchipped is also an excellent option. Then if your pet gets lost without his collar ID and is taken to a vet clinic, a shelter or a pound, they will be able to scan for the microchip and call the company to get your contact information. If you do a lot of travelling to the USA, ensure that the microchip your veterinarian uses is a universal chip that will work with all North American scanners.
If you are staying at hotels make sure they are pet friendly before you book and ensure that they will allow your particular pet. Some hotels have size restrictions for dogs or allow dogs, but not cats.
When travelling to the USA you may be asked to provide proof that your pet is up-to-date on their rabies vaccination. If you are vaccinating for rabies for the 1st time, it must be done 30 days prior to entering the USA. If your puppy or kitten is not old enough to be vaccinated against rabies they may still allow you entry, but you may have to provide proof that you will be able to keep your pet quarantined during your travels. There are no other exclusions to the USA rabies vaccination policy. Indoor cats, elderly dogs, all must still be up-to-date on their rabies vaccination in order to enter the country. They do not require a health certificate to enter the USA, but if the officer feels that your pet appears ill or may have an infectious disease, then they may require further examination by a licensed veterinarian prior to allowing you to enter. And remember, you will also need to provide proof of your pet’s rabies vaccination to the Canadian officers when re-entering Canada!
So plan ahead, have your documents ready and enjoy your vacation with your furry friends!
Dr. Janis Fisher, DVM, CVA, CCRT