Creative Ways to Use Your Pet Store when Preparing to Travel

Pet stores are excellent resources for purchasing required materials for your upcoming flight. However, pet parents should fully utilize pet stores before a trip. Sure, customers can buy crates and kennels, or perhaps stock up on treats and toys. However, pet owners should treat pet stores as general knowledge and specialty service resources—not just as places to buy a new pet carrier. Below, we have detailed four creative ways to make the most of your local pet store.

 

Training and Behavior Resources

Most pet stores will have written training resources in the form of books, pamphlets, and brochures. However, some stores—primarily large chain businesses and specialty stores—provide training and behavioral clinics for free or at a low cost. Ask your sales associate if the store offers any type of training programs for customers. If they don’t, ask if they have any connections to or promotions for nearby training facilities or clinics.

Training and behavior resources cam be especially useful for pet parents looking to travel with their animals; though it is unlikely that a store will have a travel-oriented workshop, most will offer anything from stress-relief clinics to command training. Additionally, specialty stores may in fact have travel-related workshops. If you have a small, independently-owned pet store nearby, ask about possible travel workshops. Small businesses thrive because of their ability to support a hyper-local market. If you point out the need for a resource like this, a business owner may consider hosting a clinic or workshop.

 

Minimal and Last-Minute Vet Visits

Some large pet stores have in-house veterinarians or veterinarian technicians. These professionals take care of any animals living in the store, but they also provide services to customers. In general, this should not be a substitute for a regular veterinarian; these facilities often lack the technology necessary for invasive procedures and testing. However, pet store vet visits are a great way to prepare for your flight. We previously detailed Alaska Airlines’ partnership with Banfield Pet Hospitals, which are located within PetSmart stores. The airline provides free pet health examinations and discounted health certificates to their passengers’ furry friends. Even if you’re not flying with Alaska Airlines, visiting one of these veterinary venues is a great way to quickly and efficiently get your travel paperwork together.

 

Pet Nutrition Advice

This creative pet store use does not deal directly with pet travel and transportation. It is, however, vitally important. Unless your pet has a specific health or dietary need, such as a urinary health or weight loss regime, a veterinarian may not have the market knowledge to recommend moderately-priced and comprehensive pet foods. A pet store, however, is consistently updating its inventory to provide a range of food options to best fit animals’ changing needs. If you’re unsure which pet food to use, a pet store sales associate will be able to provide direction. To that end, if you have a picky pet, bring him into the store; in some cases, suppliers will provide samples, allowing you to choose the food your pet likes most.

 

General Knowledge

Pet stores are excellent resources for anything and everything related to pet health, pet care, and pet recreation. People who choose to work at pet stores—particularly small and independently-owned stores—do so because they have a love for animals. Many pet store associates have pet care experience, and many have prior practice as veterinary assistants or technicians. Whether your pet is behaving strangely or doesn’t seem to like the new toy you purchased, a pet store sales associate should have enough knowledge to steer you in the right direction. Of course, if you believe your pet may be sick or injured, a trip to the veterinarian is non-negotiable. If, however, you have basic questions about behavior, training, food, and recreation, a pet store can help.

In addition to having knowledgeable staff, pet stores will often devote a small section to general knowledge resources. This could be training books and manuals, free behavior brochures, or a place for local animal professionals to advertise various services. Ask the sales clerk if the store has a section like this—you could find the resource you’ve been looking for to get your pet ready for a big trip.

 

 

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A Comprehensive Guide to Moving with Your Pet

In the United States, moving season is the period of time between Memorial Day and Labor Day—in essence, summer. As the season’s zenith approaches, hundreds of thousands of Americans around the country are packing up their lives for new jobs, new apartments, and first-time homeownership. Many of us have moved previously—to college, to a new city, into a first apartment. Many of us, however, haven’t gone through the experience of moving with a pet. The experience is markedly different and learning what’s typically involved is the best way to prepare for the event.

The moving process can be broken into four steps: searching for housing, packing, transportation, and unpacking/introduction. Below, we have included essential guides and tips to having a successful move—whether you’re moving down the street or across the country.

 

Finding Housing

The first step of the moving process is straightforward: you need to find a new place to live. If you’re moving into a new apartment or condominium, you will need to do some extra research to find pet-friendly housing. Some landlords ban animals outright, whereas others have restrictions on the size, breed, and number of pets you can have in the space. When searching for new housing, keep the following actions in mind.

 

  • Be up-front about your pet. When using online apartment search tools, filter for “pet-friendly” to reduce your options. When you meet building owners and real estate agents, ask about pet policies and past experiences with pet owners. Never lie about owning a pet, and don’t try to hide an animal in an apartment. In the best-case scenario, you will need to get rid of the animal. In the worst-case scenario, you may be evicted or subject to other legal action for breaking the terms of your lease.

 

  • Prepare to pay. Depending on your location, you may be asked to pay a pet fee, pet rent, or a higher security deposit. Save or factor this into your monthly budget to avoid unpleasant surprises. If a potential landlord is on the fence about allowing an animal in the building, offer to put down more money in the security deposit to show responsibility and accountability. Additionally, some building owners will require pet-related documentation: vaccination documents, dog licenses, a letter from a veterinarian, and/or a letter from your current property owner. Some of these items will cost money, but it is important to have them prepped and ready to go if you get approved for an apartment.

 

  • Don’t put it off. Begin looking for housing as soon as you decide to move. Though it may be too early to find a home for your move-in date, do what you can to familiarize yourself with the buildings and availability in the area. If you find that most listings in one neighborhood are not pet friendly, continue looking in a different area. Finding a housing as early as possible will allow you to spend more time preparing yourself and your pets for the move.

 

Packing

Regardless of where you’re moving, you must always pack strategically. The process can take several weeks, providing both a physical and emotional burden for everyone in the house. Pets are also impacted by the packing process. It is therefore essential to consider their role in the process.

 

  • Be strategic. Start early—two or three weeks before your moving day, and pack items you use least first. Starting with materials like china and books is a great way to get the process started. As boxes begin to pile up, store them in an inconspicuous area—the back room you never use, or perhaps the dining room table. Do what you can to keep the animals away from the boxes. They may see this new configuration of belongings as a toy; they might attempt to get into boxes, sit atop the pile, or otherwise hurt themselves or the belongings. Additionally, putting your boxes in a discreet spot allows the pets to continue living in the space normally, thus preventing stress build-up.

 

  • Save pet equipment for the end. When you start to pack your animals will understand that something big is happening. Work on staving off stress and bad behavior by packing up their belongings last. Save items like food bowls, litter boxes, and toys for the end. Your pets will be able to use their things, and saving these items can allow for easy access during the moving process.

 

Transportation

Transportation is the most physically exhausting part of the moving experience. Whether you’re moving yourself or hiring professionals, you will need to drive you and your family (human or fur) to the new home. In some cases, this could mean a short trip up the block. In others, it might mean spending several days in a car, or perhaps several hours on an airplane. Smart transportation is key to a safe moving experience, and preparing your pet for travel is the best strategy for a smooth transition.

 

  • Secure everything in advance. If you plan to fly to your new home, book your tickets as early as possible. Most airlines limit the number of pets on each flight, so securing your animal’s spot is essential for a safe move. Airline pet policies vary, so do your research to see what restrictions apply. In some cases, shipping a pet may be the easiest and safest option. Some airlines provide shipping services; use our guide to determine which provider will work best for your move.

 

  • Double-check pet-friendly hotel policies. Those driving to their new homes may spend several days in the car. Carefully plan your overnight stops to include hotels with friendly pet-policies. For added safety, call ahead to verify advertised policies to ensure that you and your furry friends will be able to spend the evening. When staying at a hotel, do your best to keep the animals confined to one part of the room, and place food, water, and litterboxes in the bathroom to avoid possible cleaning fees.

 

  • Consider your options. Sometimes, the best transportation option may be obvious. Other times, you may struggle to figure out which will work for your situation. Remember that cats and dogs respond to travel differently, and there are several pet-friendly transportation providers available—airlines, trains, and car rentals. Consider every possible method before deciding on a strategy.

 

Introduction

You’ve found a place, packed up your belongings, and transported everything to your new home. Now, the fun part begins. You may be tempted to let your pets out immediately, but remain vigilant and wary of hidden dangers. Use the first few minutes after your arrival to get the animals outside of the car. Then, follow these five steps to ensure an easy and safe introduction.

 

  1. Move slowly to avoid overstimulation.
  2. Prioritize safety by locking the animals in a room while you check for potential dangers.
  3. Unload strategically by placing boxes into their appropriate rooms.
  4. Emphasize comfort by putting pet items in familiar locations.
  5. Unpack quickly to prevent potentially dangerous pet situations, such as open boxes.

 

When done strategically and with proper planning, moving with a pet can be a productive experience. Before the process, consider every option and variable—from the type of housing and your timeline to transportation and unpacking procedures. Then, work to support your pet throughout the journey. A successful move and home introduction is key to a happy and healthy post-move life.

 

 

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Microchips: Don’t Forget About this Pet Travel Necessity

Though not required, investing in a microchip for pet travel is an excellent way to ensure your animal’s safety while in transit. This technology offers a standardized way to identify pets when they cross boarders or go through customs. In fact, most international pet travel requires microchip identification. This technology also provides an invaluable resource if your pet ever gets lost—whether they’re lost in transit or escape through your front door.

Never a bad idea, if you do enough traveling, especially internationally, a microchip is the best way to ensure you can always find your animal. Here’s what you need to know about these tiny devices.

 

What is a microchip?

A microchip is a simple tracking device. It has a capacitor, antenna, a connecting wire, and a covering.

 

How big are microchips for pet travel?

The device itself is around the size of a grain of rice.

 

Where is it inserted?

Subcutaneous microchips are inserted just below the skin and between the shoulder blades.

 

How is it activated?

Battery-free and sealed in biocompatible glass or polymer, microchips are activated by a low-power radiofrequency signal emitted by scanners.

 

Does it hurt?

Most pets barely notice the implantation; if feels like a routine vaccination.

 

Does implantation require surgery?

No; the cylindrical devices are implanted using a standard hypodermic needle.

 

How does the tracking feature work?

Activated microchip identification numbers are stored in a pet recovery database. If your lost pet is found by a stranger, they can bring him to the nearest veterinarian for identification.

 

How much does it cost?

Standard microchips cost around $45. If you adopted an animal from a shelter or breeder, it will likely already have an implanted device.

 

How do I activate a microchip for pet travel?

If your pet already has a microchip, bring him to your local veterinarian. The professional will activate the device using a radiofrequency signal and record the identification number in a pet recovery database. If your pet does not already have a device, your veterinarian will activate it during the same appointment as the implantation.

 

How do I know if my pet has a microchip?

If you’re unsure, a quick trip to the animal hospital will clear up any confusion. If possible, record your pet’s microchip number for quick reference in case of emergency.

 

Is a Microchip Worth the Effort?

Yes, absolutely. A microchip is a low-cost, one-time procedure and does not require any maintenance. This technology provides permanent identification for your cat or dog; it can never be removed or become impossible to read. Many pet owners and veterinary professionals liken microchips to unremovable collar I.D. tags. This is why they are used frequently in international travel. A microchip recognizes an animal better than any pet passport or veterinary certificate, and it is a reliable, failsafe way to ensure identity.

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Is There an Airline-Approved Pet Carrier with Wheels?

Most of the time, the answer is yes, but it depends on your airline and type of air travel. Finding an airline approved carrier with wheels can be difficult. IATA has strict rules when it comes to pet cargo carriers and checked baggage containers. If your pet is traveling in cargo, the wheels must be removable. Rules regarding in-cabin flight are more lenient, but you should still check with your airline. 

Wheeled pet carriers are available for all types of pet travel, but they must adhere to IATA’s restrictions. Below, we have three excellent options for in-cabin wheeled carriers and two kennels which feature removable wheels—perfect for pet cargo transport. 

 

In-Cabin Wheeled Carriers 

Snoozer Wheel Around 4-in-1 Pet Carrier; $119.95 on Amazon 

If you travel with your animal with enough frequency, you’ve likely discovered that you need a different carrier for each travel method. Whether you’re traveling by car, plane, or train, varying rules and height/weight allowances mean you may be accumulating too many pet carriers to count. If this describes your situation, the Snoozer Wheel Around 4-in-1 Pet Carrier is the solution you need. This multi-functional container is compact, comfortable, and airline approved. It can hold animals up to 15 pounds. 

Our favorite feature for this carrier is its versatility. The Snoozer Wheel Around can serve as a car seat, a backpack, a rolling pet carrier, and a bed. It comes in two sizes, several colors, and is crash tested at 30mph. It features mesh on three sides, a multi-stage telescope handle, lots of ventilation, and microfiber material. The carrier easily transforms into a backpack for optimal convenience. For all your travel-related needs, this 4-in-1 container is the answer. 

 

Sherpa on Wheels; $68.99 from Amazon 

At a cool $70, the Sherpa on Wheels clocks in as one of the most affordable wheeled carriers available. This is an excellent option for frequent flyers who struggle with heaving Fido around the airport. The carrier features recessed wheels for an easy-glide motion and an adjustable shoulder strap which converts into a padded pull handle. It fits pets up to 22lbs who are less than 19” in length and 9.5” in height. The carrier itself measures 20” x 12.25” x 10.5”. 

The Sherpa on Wheels guarantees airline approval. In fact, they even have a program; the Guaranteed-On-Board Program means this carrier is approved for use on any major airline. If your pet is refused, you are eligible for a full refund. The container features four mesh panels for ventilation, roll down privacy flaps, top and side entry with locking zippers, and a machine washable faux lambswool liner. If this sounds like the carrier for you, we recommend checking the weight allowance for your airline; the Sherpa on Wheels is just over 5lbs, which is heavier than most carriers.  

 

WPS Wheeled Pet Carrier; $94.99 from Amazon 

Similar to the Sherpa on Wheels, this airline approved pet carrier with wheels is extremely spacious and durable. The newly upgraded design is perfect for anxious and eager pets who may try to escape from their carrier while in the airport. The WPS Wheeled Pet Carrier is composed of metal and durable materials, offering maximum strength. Pet parents can choose between using hand-carry straps, shoulder straps, and the pull strap. This is a TSA approved pet carrier, and the compact size ensures it will fit in the space below most airline seats. 

This carrier features meshed fabric to ensure proper ventilation. Additionally, the carrier has six wheels; this adds weight, but allows for maximum sturdiness. You can also use this carrier in the car; it includes straps and a seatbelt for added security during motion, and the container itself is collapsible and foldable. As with the Sherpa on Wheels, we recommend checking your airline’s in-cabin pet weight allowance. This container is a heavy 7 pounds, which means your pet will need to be at or under 15 pounds to fly with most commercial airlines. 

 

Cargo Pet Kennels with Removable Wheels 

Skudo Plastic Pet Carrier—From $25.19 from Amazon 

The Skudo Plastic Pet Carrier boasts all necessary features for an airline-approved cargo kennel. This model includes removable wheels and a pull handle, significantly reducing the strain of hauling a heavy, cargo-bound animal through an airport cargo facility. The wheels and handle make moving this kennel a breeze, and their ability to be removed makes the container IATA-compliant. The container is available in six separate sizes and boasts a traditional handle, built-in hooks for a shoulder strap, easy snap-lock buckles, ventilation on all sides, and a durable plastic shell.  

Cargo travel requires metal screws and food/water dishes for optimal safety and comfort. If you opt for the Skudo Plastic carrier, you will need to purchase your own metal screws (the crate comes with plastic) and food bowls separately.  

 

Marchioro Clipper Ithaka Pet Carrier—$233.12 from Amazon 

The Marchioro Clipper is one of the most secure wheeled cargo pet containers available. In features a variety of additional accessories, including a shoulder strap, a water bottle, and a no-spill cup. This eliminates the need for pet owners to purchase these additional requirements on their own. The kennel also comes with wheels for easy transport to the cargo facility, but they can be removed upon arrival to remain IATA-compliant.  

The Marchioro Clipper also features “side-clackers,” additional pins, and a spring-latch. The kennel is available in four sizes: 27.75”x19.5”x20.25”, 32.25”x22.25”x23.5”, 36.5”x25.5”x26.75”, and 41.5”x29.25”x31”. 

 

Why Wheels Matter 

When it comes to pet travel, navigating the airport can be the most difficult part of the process. If you’re juggling your carry-on, a personal item, and a pet kennel, you’ll be more susceptible to accidents—leaving something behind, dropping a fragile item, or—in the worst scenario—letting Fido out of the carrier. Wheels are the easiest way to mitigate this issue. Rolling a kennel through the airport is far easier than carrying one. Both you and your dog will be happier with this simple addition.  

IATA prohibits wheels on pet cargo and checked baggage for one simple reason: they move freely while in transit. When researching crates, you should always check that the wheels are, indeed, removable. This one feature can determine you animal’s ability to fly. However, most kennel companies understand this restriction, and so most crates have optional wheels to facilitate a greater range of function. 

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Find an Airline-Approved Cat Carrier for Any Budget

Pet travel carriers cover a vast budget range. It is common for two nearly-identical carriers to have a $50 price difference, but what does that extra charge get you? Sometimes, it affords durability, added security, and a warranty. More frequently, it means a stylish shell and additional color options. This means that finding an airline approved cat carrier is a complicated task—it can be difficult to understand what, exactly, your money buys.  

We’ve cut the hard part out for you. Below, you’ll find one airline approved cat carrier for each budget range: up to $30, $30-$50, and $50+. The below containers are indicative of what, roughly, that price point should generally include.  

 

Budget: Sherpa Delux Pet Carrierfrom $19.99 on Amazon 

If you’re looking to save money on an airline approved cat carrier, the Sherpa Delux Pet Carrier is the way to go. This container is available in three separate sizes and can accommodate cats up to 22lbs. We should note: most airlines impose weight restrictions on in-cabin pets, so there is no guarantee that your 20lb+ cat can fly. However, if you find an airline to accommodate your larger-than-life cat, this carrier will do the trick. 

This carrier features a patented wire spring frame which allows the container to be compressed by several inches—perfect for sliding your animal under the seat in front of you. The Sherpa Delux also comes with the brand’s “Guaranteed On Board” policy, which promises that the carrier meets airline rules and regulations. If your airline denies the carrier for any reason, you are eligible for a full refund. This carrier is durable, includes a padded fleece lining, and features mesh side panels for ventilation. 

 

Mid-Range: Mr. Peanut’s Soft Sided Pet Carrierfrom $35.99 on Amazon 

This mid-range airline approved cat carrier is an excellent option for furry frequent fliers. Available in five colors, this stylish container measures 18”x10.4”x11” and is recommended for pets up to 15lbs. We especially appreciate that the carrier itself is just under three pounds. Most pet carriers are incredibly hefty, which can cut into your pet weight allowance; this soft-sided carrier mitigates any weight issues you may encounter while attempting to board.  

Mr. Peanut’s Soft Sided Pet Carrier comes with a removable fleece bed for maximum pet comfort. Additionally, it features several carry features, making the process easier for the person carrying the animal. The brand warns that each airline sets very specific carrier requirements but points out that soft-sided carriers are often the easiest to travel with. However, this carrier ensures compatibility for Delta, Southwest, United, American, and Virgin airlines. The container is strong and waterproof—perfect for every adventure.  

 

Luxury: Smiling Paws Pets 4 Way Expandable Soft Sided Carrier; from $59.99 on Amazon 

If you want the much-wanted trifecta of durability, style, and comfort, we recommend the 4 Way Expandable Soft Sided Carrier from Smiling Paws Pets. Available in two sizes, this container offers unique 4 way expansion, allowing your pet to move around more comfortably while in the airport. Your airline will likely require you to zip up the expanded portions for take-off and landing, but—if it fits under the seat—your pet will be able to enjoy an additional 1.5 square feet of space. This means all the difference in long distance pet travel. 

In addition to offering this unique feature, this Smiling Paws Pets carrier is reinforced; the hinges are made of stainless steel for extra security, and the laminated fabric is leak-proof and water repellent. The machine washable fleece pad provides additional comfort, and the ventilated design allows for maximum air circulation. You can carry this container multiple ways, over the shoulder or using the top handle, ensuring additional ease while moving through the airport.  

 

Feline Travel Requires More than a Carrier 

Though cats may fly with less frequency than dogs, they are often the in-cabin pet companion of choice. Most cats fit the size requirements for in-cabin transit, meaning carriers are designed to accommodate our feline friends. Though this may make the research process more tedious, you are more likely to find a carrier to fit your exact needs and budget. 

However, a comfortable carrier may not be enough to ensure safe and comfortable feline travel. If you plan to travel with a cat, remember to adequately prepare the animal for the journey. Cats are very temperamental, and introducing a new carrier just before take-off—no matter how fluffy it may be— is never a good idea. For more information about traveling with a cat, see our guide 

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Seatbelts and Safety Harnesses for Pets and Animal Airline Travel

In-cabin and cargo pet travel restrictions differ significantly, but service animal policies remain consistent across airlines. In most cases, your assistance animal will need to sit at your feet for the duration of the flight. He does not need to be in a carrier but should not extend outside the “footprint” of your seat. You will likely be assigned to a row with additional room to accommodate the extra passenger. Some type of safety harness is also ty required for takeoff and landing.  

Select airlines, like British Airways, include additional requirements in their service animal policies. They require an animal travel safety harness (or equivalent) to secure assistance dogs during takeoff, landing, and when seat belt signs are switched on. A similar device is required of Virgin Atlantic assistance animals as well as other airlines. 

Even if you do not have an assistance dog, investing in a pet travel safety harness is a good idea for frequent travel. Below, we have included a few of our favorite securing devices for safe pet and animal travel. 

 

Puppia Soft Dog Harness—$15.59 from Chewy 

What We Like: This inexpensive and easy-to-use harness provides both comfort and security for small and medium-sized breeds. It is lightweight and features a comfortable neck opening, an adjustable quick-release chest belt, and a D-ring for leash attachment. This is an excellent low-cost option for animals who require securing during takeoff and landing. 

Sizes: This harness is available in five sizes: x-small, small, medium, large, and x-large. To determine the correct size, you will need to measure around your animal’s chest and neck.  

Additional Features: This harness is extremely comfortable, which provides a huge benefit to dogs on long-distance flights. The secured D-ring for leash and belt attachment ensures your animal will not budge during his time in the air. Used in conjunction with a seatbelt, this harness provides optimal security at a very low price point.  

 

Sleepypod Clickit Sport Dog Safety Harness—$69.99 from Chewy 

What We Like: This is one of the sturdiest safety harnesses we’ve seen. The Sleepypod Clickit boasts an Infinity Loop design in conjunction with an impact-absorbing padded vest to distribute and reduce damaging forces. It uses three points of contact, which reduce both forward and lateral movements during turbulence. This harness is crash-tested with the same requirements used for child safety restraints.  

Sizes: This harness is available in four sizes: small (16.5-22”), medium (22.5-28”), large (28.5-34”), and x-large (34.5-40”). To determine the correct size, measure around your dog’s ribs just behind the front legs. 

Additional Features: This harness is made from ballistic nylon and automotive-grade materials, making it incredibly durable. It can easily attach to your plane or car seat belt with built-in loops, so you won’t need to purchase additional gear. This also doubles as an everyday walking harness. 

 

Kurgo Tru-Fit No Pull Dog Harness$27.99 from Amazon 

What We Like: We love the security and flexibility afforded by the Kurgo Tru-Fit harness. It attaches around the animal’s neck and torso for optimal comfort and sports five separate adjustment points. The Kurgo Tru-Fit harness can be tethered during car or air travel, and it also works well as a walking harness.   

Sizes: This inexpensive securing mechanism comes in six diverse sizes. Measurements should be taken around the dog’s neck and chest, and the largest available harness size fits a neck of 24-35” and a chest of 28-44”.  

Additional Features: This harness includes a 10” dog seat belt which can be used to tether the animal during car and air travel. Though the harness is not crash tested, it comes with a lifetime warranty; even if your item is damaged in travel, the company will replace it free of charge. 

 

 

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