Create a Pet Travel Kit

Heading out with your favorite animal traveling companion?

Make the journey easier for both of you by assembling a pet travel kit, with these tips from The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other pet experts. (More HSUS travel tips here.)

WHN TIP Perfect for Emergencies
Your pet travel kit can also be used in case of emergency. If you have to evacuate, all you need to do is grab your pet and the kit!

WHN TIP Bin, Bag or Box
Put all the items together in a large bag, a plastic bin with a lid or sturdy box. Make sure it’s labeled with your name and contact information.

Food and Water

  • Pack enough food for the trip, with a little extra just in case.

WHN EXPERT TIP  Individual-Size Portions
“I like to take out and measure each meal of food for the dog and put each meal in a small, resealable plastic bag. I know if I just grab one of those bags it’s the right amount of food and I don’t have to bring a measuring cup.”
– Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, ASPCA Executive Vice President of National Programs and Science Advisor and owner of a dog, two cats and some fish.

  • For each pet, bring bottled water or water from your tap at home – at least seven days worthsince a change in water can trigger diarrhea and intestinal distress for the pet. (This won’t be an option if you’re flying. Consider getting your pet used to a national brand of bottled water and when you reach your destination, stock up.)

WHN EXPERT TIP  Prevent Tummy Troubles
– Lisa Peterson, AKC Director of Club Communications and owner, breeder and handler of Norwegian Elkhounds, suggests asking your vet to prescribe an anti-diarrheal medication and/or recommendations for a brand of canned food to prevent loose stools.

  • Can opener
  • Pet feeding dishes
  • Treats

WHN TIP  Pet First-Aid Kit
Pack your pet first aid kit, just in case. Also, tell your vet where you’re planning to travel and ask for any recommendations regarding medications, items and suggestions for your pet.

WHN EXPERT TIP  Sedatives and Tranquilizers
“The inner ears of dogs are much more sensitive than humans, making them more prone to motion sickness. A sedative pill, prescribed by your veterinarian, can help to not only relax your dog but also lessen motion sickness.”
Dr. Tod Schadler, associate dean of clinical studies at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine

Items and Supplies

  • A sturdy collar with ID tags with both your permanent address and telephone number and an address and telephone number where you or a contact can be reached during your travels.
  • A traveling bag, crate, cage or sturdy carrier.
    • Read our Choosing and Preparing a Pet Crate article for finding the right crate or carrier for your needs. Be sure to restrain carriers in the car by securing the seat belt around and over the front of it. This will keep the carrier from bouncing and causing harm or upset to the animal inside. (Cat not crazy about the crate? Try these tips from the HSUS!)
  • Blanket (for comfort or covering cages)
  • Disposable garbage bags for clean-up, pooper scooper, cleaning spray
  • Disposable litter trays, litter (aluminum roasting pans or plastic containers are perfect)

WHN EXPERT TIP  Disposable Litter Pans
“I suggest that you use some kind of plastic containers with lids that are about the same size as a litter box. That way you can keep the litter in the box and it’s easier to clean.”
– Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, ASPCA Executive Vice President of National Programs and Science Advisor, and owner of a dog, two cats and some fish

Extra collar, harness and leash (make sure they fit properly)

  • Flashlight
  • Grooming/hygiene items (brush, shampoo, nail clippers, etc.)
  • Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
  • Old sheets to cover bedding, the floor, and furniture at your destination
  • Paper towels, moist towelettes
  • Towel
  • Toys

WHN EXPERT TIP  Exercise Pens
“I like to pack collapsible pens that are at least about 36” high. They’re not escape-proof but at least it’s something to set up when we stop at rest areas and let the dogs exercise.”
– Matt Stelter, Drs. Foster & Smith representative and professional collie owner and handler

Important Documents

Keep these documents in a waterproof bag or folder.

  • Health certificate

WHN EXPERT TIP  Plastic Shipping Sleeves: “For photocopies of health documentation, we use plastic shipping sleeves (normally used for address labels) to secure the documentation to the top of the travel crate. These sleeves are great as they show the content, stick to the crate easily and usually have a resealable closure – perfect for airport officials to quickly and easily access the documentation.” Rachel Farris, PetRelocation.com

Photocopies of medical and vaccination records (especially the pet’s rabies vaccination!)

  • Copies of prescriptions and instructions for medications
  • Photocopies of pet insurance cards and policies
  • Photocopies and details of ID tags, tattoos, microchips and licenses

WHN EXPERT TIP  Make a Cell Phone Tag
“Have a little tag made that has your cell phone number on it (many pet stores have machines that do this) and stick that on your dog’s collar when you’re traveling. Otherwise, if your dog gets away from you while you’re traveling, they’ll call you at home but you won’t be there!”
– Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, ASPCA Executive Vice President of National Programs and Science Advisor and owner of a dog, two cats and some fish.

  • Recent photos of your pet(s)— hard copy and on your cell phone.
  • A written description of your pet:
    • Pet’s name
    • Breed
    • Sex
    • Age
    • Description of coat, color and markings (scars, spots, etc.)
    • Height
    • Weight
    • Microchip or tattoo numbers
    • Color of collar/leash/tags

WHN EXPERT TIP  Have you seen me?
“I always pack a photo of my pets in case I need to make a ‘LOST’ poster of my pet. Always keep your dog on its leash!”
– Lisa Peterson, AKC Director of Club Communications and owner, breeder and handler of Norwegian Elkhounds

  • List of important phone numbers:
    • Veterinarian (numbers for your one at home and one at your destination)
    • 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital (also for the one at your destination)
    • National poison control hotline (ASPCA Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435)
    • Pet insurance agent
    • List of pet-friendly hotels/motels nearby. Good sources of information: Pet Travel Center and PetsWelcome.com.

WHN TIP  Pet First Aid App
The Red Cross has a Pet First Aid App that includes step-by-step instructions for first aid emergencies, pet profile details, tips for when to call a vet, animal hospital locator and information on including pets in emergency preparedness plans.

WHN EXPERT TIP  Emergency Contact Information
“I like to keep an emergency ID info card in my car with me. It includes a calling number so in case I’m unconscious they can call someone I know to come and get the pet instead of taking the pet to a shelter or animal control.”
– Lisa Peterson, AKC Director of Club Communications and owner, breeder and handler of Norwegian Elkhounds