Travel can be stressful—so, if you’re heading off island with your pets, check out these simple tips from Guam Pet Hospital that will help ensure a smooth, successful trip for all two- and four-legged travelers. We can guide you through this process and help ensure your pets arrive safely at their final destination.

#1: Determine any pet health requirements

While Guam is a rabies-free country, there are still health requirements that must be met prior to travel. Those requirements are dictated by the airlines, your final destination, and the veterinarian issuing the health certificate. The airlines will also dictate the crate size needed for your particular pet. Your veterinarian may have requirements above and beyond the bare minimum required by the airlines or government. These requirements are based on the veterinarian’s experience, and ensure your pet arrives alive and healthy at the end of the long and often stressful trip. 

Every pet leaving Guam must have a health certificate issued within 10 days of travel, signed by the local veterinarian AND the territorial veterinarian. Some airlines require additional documents or statements by the issuing veterinarian regarding the pet’s disposition and temperature restrictions (i.e., hot summer or cold winter destinations). Our veterinary team can schedule an appointment to update your pet’s vaccines, testing, and parasite prevention and ensure you have the appropriate health certificates with “live ink” signatures.

#2: Anxious or car-sick pet? Talk to our veterinarian

If your pet experiences motion sickness, Dr. Bob can prescribe an anti-anxiety or anti-nausea medication to reduce their discomfort. He may also recommend a bland diet or withholding food altogether for several days before long travel. 

#3: Help your pet acclimate to their travel accessories

Pets should be safely confined to a crate during their travels. Airlines determine size requirements for kennels; however, we recommend going a little bigger, as it gives your pet more room and thus a more comfortable trip (i.e., first class leg room!). 

Introduce your pet to their crate as soon as you can before you travel by rewarding them with tasty treats or playtime when they investigate the accessory, and go inside the crate or carrier. A few short car rides before any extended travel can help your pet relax on the big day. Smell is important to pets and your own scent helps calm them. Some people use the carrier as a dirty clothes hamper to infuse the smell of home into the carrier’s plastic.

#4: Pack your pet’s essentials

Pack a separate bag stocked with your pet’s necessary supplies. Always pack food and medication for a few extra days in case your plans change. Pet essentials include:

  • Current identification — Ensure your pet wears up-to-date identification (e.g., collar and tags) at all times, and pack a spare collar and leash in case one breaks. 
  • Food and water — Keep your pet on their regular food during travel and use only bottled water, if possible, to avoid gastrointestinal upset.
  • Medications — Include your pet’s regular medications in their original bottles or packaging. If you need refills, call Guam Pet Hospital at least 7 to 10 days prior to your departure date.
  • Veterinary records — Include a paper copy of your pet’s records should you need proof of vaccination or ownership. Keep a digital copy on your phone.
  • Clean-up supplies — Pick up bags, litter box and litter, paper towels, and pet stain remover can ensure you leave no trace behind wherever your pet may “go.”
  • Toys and bedding — Your pet’s favorite items can prevent boredom and provide comfort and reassurance when they are away from home—check with the airlines for current allowed ‘in crate’ items.

#5: Never leave your pet in a parked car during warm weather

Every year, countless pets left in parked cars suffer from heat-related stress and life-threatening heatstroke. No matter how quickly you think you’ll be back, never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle. In times of excessive heat, consider boarding your pet, or leaving them at home with a pet sitter.

If your pet shows heat-stress signs, such as excessive panting, drooling, vomiting, lethargy, loss of coordination, or unresponsiveness, relocate them to a cool area, and immediately contact Guam Pet Hospital or the nearest veterinary facility.

#6: Make time for pet-friendly activities

While traveling, if possible, ensure you spend quality time with your pet, such as a few quiet moments of petting and encouragement. Unfortunately, this is difficult unless the pet is traveling ‘in cabin’ with you.

Including pet-specific time on your travel itinerary provides exercise, alleviates stress and anxiety, and helps your pet feel satisfied and secure during their travel to their new home.

#7: Confine your pet to keep them safe and out of trouble

During times of stress and excitement, pets may behave differently than at home. Restrict cats to their carrier and allow them to roam free only after reaching your final destination. Dogs should be kept on a secure leash (sometimes two!) to prevent them from escaping.

Nervous or anxious pets may become destructive, so always crate or confine your pet if you leave them in your hotel room. Leave your contact information at the front desk in case of an emergency.

No matter where you travel, remember to pack extra patience, understanding, and your sense of humor. For all your pet’s pre-travel veterinary needs, contact Guam Pet Hospital.