Tips for Traveling With Pets (or Leaving Them in Philly)

Flying with your furry friend? A Philly vet shares his tips for making travel as seamless as possible.

flying travel pets

Flying with your pets? We’ve got you covered. / Photograph by Sandy Huffaker/Corbis via Getty Images

Zack Glantz, veterinarian and medical coordinator at Art City Vets in Fairmount, shares his must-dos when flying with your pet.

Work with your USDA-accredited vet — and start the conversation early.

It’s much harder to make a good plan when people call us two days before their flight, especially if it’s international travel.

There are specific guidelines for some countries, and there is no bending of the rules.

The only country that doesn’t really require anything­ specific other than the rabies vaccination is Mexico. But generally, if you want to bring your pet to another country, there’s usually going to be a requirement for an official USDA-endorsed document, which can take a few days or weeks to obtain.

The minimum for domestic travel is the rabies vaccination.

Anytime you fly, you should carry a copy of that paperwork. However, inspections are not common for pet travel.

Find out your airline’s pet policies ahead of time.

Every airline — or even itinerary — will have different rules. And most airlines won’t tell you till something is needed: Many clients book a flight months in advance; then, a week beforehand, the airline asks them to upload their pet’s health certificate, and they’re like: “What’s that?”

You can typically fly with any animal of a certain­ airline-approved size that you’re legally allowed to own.

I’ve done paperwork for rabbits, bearded dragons and ferrets.

Use a carrier that’s slightly smaller than you think it should be.

Animals don’t need to stand up fully. Invest in a mostly covered carrier, rather than a mesh one, with a window screen you can zip. You also want something that can sort of squish into spaces, rather than a hard structure.

Motion sickness isn’t super-common for animals­ traveling by air.

Regardless, I recommend fasting pets for two hours prior to getting them into the carrier and to the airport. The FDA-approved medication Maropitant is also effective.

Start those preventative measures ahead of time.

There’s a lot we can do in advance medically or with nutraceuticals to stop stress from developing, but once it’s there, it’s hard to reduce. It’s safer to give your animal a medication that’s predictable for its effect; I’d rather have an animal that’s groggy but comfortable than one that’s stressed.

Sit and Stay

travel with pets philly hotels flying

Pups get perks at Kimpton’s Philly properties, including Hotel Monaco (pictured) and Hotel Palomar. / Photograph by @maple.the.aussie

Don’t want to travel too far with your pet? You have options.


Wagwatch has been offering boarding services for about six months, and your pooch is probably going to have a better time than you. That’s because Princess Pug will stay in one of the luxury hotel rooms equipped with oversize beds, bowls, toys and Samsung tablets, to play her favorite tunes. Northern Liberties.


Main Liners stick with Best of Philly-winning Pet Nanny when they go out of town. The biz offers pup-sitting (four visits per day, and they’ll bring in your mail and water your indoor plants for no extra fee) and overnight stays. Pet Nanny also watches cats and other small animals. Wayne.


Consider the Element (rooms from $216) and the Kimpton­ Hotel Palomar (rooms from $218). Best for the efficient traveler,­ Element treats Fido to a fluffy bed and treats, and you to wellness-focused goodies like a yoga mat. As for the Kimpton? The hotel provides all the standards (bed, bowls) plus a director of pet relations (a dog). Its Pampered Paws Retreat offers a “bark”cuterie board and a mini doggy robe for an extra fee. Center City; Rittenhouse.

Looking for more dog-friendly Philly hotels? Check out our ultimate guide.

Published as “Air Buds” in the May 2024 issue of Philadelphia magazine.