Pet Travel Tips: Looking Before You Leap


A cat packed up and ready to travel with its travel nurse owner.

Part One Of Our “Travel Nurses With Pets” Series…

Over the years, Onward Healthcare has been contacted by many RNs who are interested in traveling but have concerns about their pet traveling with them on their assignment. To help you prepare to travel with your furry friend, we’ve created this four-part guide to help you with each step of traveling, touring, and moving with your loved one – from the moment you step out of your home to your first night in your new living space.

Before Your Trip…

If you have time to plan ahead, there are a lot of things you can do to make your pet’s travel experience a lot easier for them.

Before you load your pet in its carrier or crate, give your little one a chance to be comfortable with it by leaving it out, with the door open in the house for several days beforehand. This gives them the chance to look inside, inspect it, and acclimate to it before being the trip.

Visiting Your Vet

If the trip will be more than a day, scheduling a visit with your veterinarian is a great idea. While you’re there, you can make sure that your pet is caught up on all their shots, as some interstate crossings require proof of a rabies vaccination before allowing them to cross. Make sure your pet is healthy, and get them microchipped to vastly improve the chances of having your pet returned to you if they become lost. If your pet has tags, make sure the name, address, and phone number are up to date, and that the pet’s microchip number is on the tags.

You or the vet should also clip your animal’s nails, which will help prevent damage to property in strange surroundings, and will make them much easier to restrain if necessary. You may also want to research a good veterinarian operating in your destination, just in case an emergency visit is needed. It’s also a great idea to give your pets a flea and tick treatment before traveling, so there’s no chance of them picking up any unwanted guests along the way.

Giving Things A “Trial Run”…

A dog owned by a travel nurse about to take a weekend trip

Short drives in the car beforehand can get your pet used to the idea of the longer trip – I begin acclimating my pets to the car when they’re young, but any amount of time will help. If you find that your pet is especially anxious in the car, you might want to feed them a light meal four hours before the trip and keep them on a “light” stomach to avoid vomiting or an accident in your car. To help increase the chances of them sleeping during the trip, we recommend exercising them right before the trip to use up some of their extra energy.

If you’re planning on calming your pet with sedatives, give them a small amount of the sedative a few days before the trip. Better to find out if they’ll have an adverse reaction to it them than when you’re on the road! This is also a great time to take several clear, up-to-date pictures of your pets – bring physical and digital copies on your trip.

Want to learn more? You might like this article at!

Pet Travel Checklist

When traveling with pets, try to have as many of the following as you can:

  • A large, comfortable carrier crate
  • A health certificate (No more than ten days old)
  • A rabies vaccination certificate
  • Several gallons of water from home
  • A supply of your pet’s food
  • Collapsible food and water bowls
  • Updated identification tags
  • A leash and harness
  • Updated digital and printed copies of your pet
  • A written description of your pet including breed, sex, age, weight, height, name, markings, and microchip/tattoo numbers
  • Kitty litter, litter box, scooper, elimination bags, training pads, etc.
  • A blanket from home
  • Treats & toys
  • A first aid kit, including tweezers to remove foreign objects from paws
  • A lint and hair remover
  • A flashlight
  • Packing tape (For emergency repairs to a damaged pet crate)
  • Sedatives (optional)

Are You Interested In Travel Nursing?

At Onward Healthcare, we’re standing by to help you through every step of your travel nursing experience – from housing, to licensure, finding your own job, and more. We offer competitive pay, great benefits, and the friendly service you’re looking for. To get started, contact us at (800) 278-0332, or apply online today!

Read More:

Part 2: Traveling With Pets In Planes, Trains, Cars, Buses, And Ferries
Part 3: Pets & Hotels
Part 4: Bringing Your Pet To A New Home


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