dog looking out plane window

Tips for Wedding Travel with Pets


January 11, 2022
Words by Kristi Blane
Photos courtesy of various

Thinking of including your pet in your destination wedding? Dr. George Melillo expert veterinarian and founder of Heart + Paw–a service that provides a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare–is sharing his best pointers for traveling with your furry friend!

There are many pet carriers on the market and the best carrier depends on what it is being used for and the individual needs of your pet. For air travel, it matters if the pet is traveling with the passengers or in cargo. There are several brands that satisfy airline requirements and also are comfortable for most pets. Good carriers should be waterproof and easy to clean. For most pets, a carrier must also have adequate ventilation. Anxious pets may need carriers that provide a sense of security (less openings or exposure to external stimuli).

bride, groom and dog

Photo courtesy of Heart + Paw

Another thing to remember is that it should be easy to carry, be lightweight or on wheels. No matter what carrier is used, it should be clearly marked with contact information for the pet parent, someone at the travel destination, and emergency contact information if the pet parent is unable to be reached.

Especially now, it is wise to plan for delays or cancellations and have a carrier that can make these challenges more manageable. For other travel, the carrier should have the same waterproof and ventilation features and be large enough for a pet to stand and turn around in. Some brands that I have heard good feedback from include: SleepypodSherpaLove Thy BeastPetmate and Wild One.

Traveling with Cats

The most important piece of advice is to spend time acclimating your cat to a carrier. This is important for all cat parents whether they plan on traveling or not. All cats should be comfortable getting in a carrier as this helps facilitate transporting to veterinary visits as well as any travel. Having a carrier in the home that becomes a welcome or fun place to find toys, food, or treats, takes a lot of time but ultimately makes travel less stressful. This should start as soon as you get your cat. One brand that facilitates this is Doc & Phoebe’s. Travel can be very stressful on cats and all pets so it is always good to discuss your travel plans with your veterinarian, especially if there are any medical concerns.

Carriers for Small Dogs

The carrier should keep the pet comfortable, secure, and safe. It should be waterproof and easy to clean. It should be secure so a pet cannot escape in a completely new and strange environment. Ideally, your dog should be acclimated to the carrier prior to travel and see it as a place of safety. Pay attention to how convenient it is to carry, especially with any other carry-on luggage. There are carriers on wheels and also backpack versions. Matching the needs of your dog with your own travel plans is important when selecting a carrier.

Carriers for Large Dogs

Most big dogs that travel should be secure in a carrier in the car. Confinement in a carrier that they are comfortable in makes for a less stressful journey. If traveling by air, most carriers for big dogs will need to meet airline specifications (these vary from airline to airline) and should be leakproof, able to add absorbent bedding, and large enough for the dog to turn around freely.

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