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What Problems Could I Run Into Traveling With My Pet?

Published on: June 30, 2022  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

siamese cat

You don’t want to leave home without them, so if you will be traveling, you want your pet to come, too. To plan a successful trip, you should know about problems you could run into trying to travel with your pet.

No pets allowed

This happens with lodging accommodations, and it happens with various transportation options, too. The only sure thing for pet travel is your own car. If you're hoping to take the train, Amtrak allows some pets with certain restrictions. Even some airlines won’t take your pet.

Pets allowed, but not everywhere

For most airlines that allow pets, you don't always get to choose whether they ride with you in the cabin (if they’re small enough) or as checked baggage or cargo. Many airlines are cracking down on in-cabin pet travel unless you have a legitimate service dog. If you're traveling internationally, some countries won't allow pets to arrive in any way besides as cargo. 

Breed restrictions

Most airlines have heightened concerns about brachycephalic dogs and cats because snub-nosed animals have inherent breathing difficulties. Sometimes that problem can be exacerbated at altitude, even though the cargo hold where pets travel is pressurized and temperature-controlled. Your airline may restrict where your snub-nosed pet rides, which snub-nosed breeds are allowed or entirely embargo these animals. Some airlines also have restrictions on breeds that can be considered "dangerous" and they may require a special type of travel kennel to be accepted.   

Weather problems

Generally speaking, airlines won’t allow animals to fly if the temperature at any point on their itinerary is under 45o F or above 85o F. If you’re traveling in winter or summer, this can dictate the time of day you fly. If the weather changes, your pet may not be allowed on their flight after all, which could create last-minute problems for your travel plans as well as theirs. Not to mention, inclement weather like storms or snow can cause cancelled flights as well.  


It is not advisable to tranquilize pets traveling by air. No airline accepts sedated cats or dogs. Not only that, but sedatives can cause respiratory or cardiac issues when pets are up in the air at high altitudes.  It's not worth the risk.

Improper carrier

No matter what type of carrier you use at home for your dog or cat, in order to travel by air they will need an extra-sturdy kennel that meets International Air Transport Association (IATA) specifications. This means that your wire crate, collapsible crate or soft sided carrier will not be acceptable. If your pet arrives to the airport with an unacceptable kennel then they will not be able to fly.

You can’t get there from here

While you may have no problem finding flights you like from a variety of origins to a variety of destinations, not all airports or airplanes can accommodate pets. This is especially true if you have a large dog or if you're trying to travel when it's very hot or very cold. In some cases, you might have to drive a little farther to a different airport in order for your pet to get the flight(s) needed to your destination. 

Failure to start the paperwork process early

Every country has its own regulations regarding pet health documentation. Some countries and the State of Hawaii have particularly complicated requirements because they are rabies-free. No matter where you’re headed, if you don’t get the paperwork right, your pet could be refused entry. They could be stuck in quarantine, perhaps for an extended time. Worse, they could even be threatened with euthanasia.

Acquiring the necessary tests and treatments and the related documentation can take weeks or even several months. If you don’t start far enough in advance, you’ll have a serious problem.

Lack of accurate information

Traveling with your pet requires researching information about individual airline rules and your destination country's pet import requirements. Unfortunately the right hand doesn’t always know what the left is doing. Well-intended blogs by pet parents or other third parties can be out of date, and airline employees and foreign embassy personnel are not always armed with the latest information. Things can change, and that can become a problem for you.

And, let’s face it, not every pet is thrilled by the concept of travel. Cats are not fond of change, and it takes practice for any pet to get used to spending extended time in a kennel. If your pet is elderly or has a chronic health condition, air travel or a multi-day trip in the car may not be in their best interest.

Virtually all these problems can be overcome. All it takes is advance planning so you know what to expect and your pet can be well-prepared for traveling with you. Your best source for information and assistance is an established international pet transport company.

In the end, your pet loves you as much as you love them. Whether they like to travel or not, they’d rather be with you. And when you reach your destination, you can settle back into a familiar routine, even if the setting is different. Problems solved.

Starwood Animal Transport has rebranded to Starwood Pet Travel. We are still the same great company with the best team, just now with a slightly different name.