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TRAVELING WITH YOUR GUINEA PIG

Guinea pigs quite literally live in a world of their own. They are not often disturbed by what's going on in the world outside their cages. They are quite adaptable and generally travel well, but occasionally a guinea pig can become nervous in strange surroundings.

For some guinea pigs, travel is not advisable. If your guinea pig is ill, very young or if you have a pregnant female guinea pig, having a trusted friend or relative come into your home to check on her is best when you are away.

You should be aware that if you plan to fly, some airlines exclude guinea pigs as carry-on pets. On those airlines, guinea pigs must travel as baggage or cargo.

Answer the following questions before deciding to take your guinea pig on a trip: What are the regulations and restrictions that apply in transit and at your destination? How will you transport your pet? What are your travel options? Where will your pet stay once you arrive? What do you do if your guinea pig gets sick or hurt while you're traveling?

Legal Responsibilities

Cats, dogs and most other warm-blooded animals transported via commercial transportation are protected by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which is enforced by the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

If you plan to use commercial transportation, such as an airline, you will be required to conform to provisions specified by the USDA. This helps ensure the safety of your pet, but it also restricts your transportation options and the way you prepare your pet for travel. If your travel plans will take you out of the continental United States, quarantine regulations and restrictions will also apply. This includes travel to Hawaii.

Travel Essentials

The most important item for a traveling guinea pig is a quality carrier. Be certain you have a secure, escape-proof cage.

Travel with your pet requires you consider the mode of transportation, the supplies needed and the method of providing food and water.

When you're packing, include any necessary medications and carry all vaccinations and other health certificates as required.

Transportation Options

Transportation options are generally limited to car and airlines. The only animals allowed on Amtrak and interstate bus lines are service animals such as seeing-eye dogs. Some local train and bus carriers may allow small animals in carriers and cages but this varies among individual carriers. If you must travel by train or bus, you will need to make different arrangements to transport your pet, such as shipment via air cargo.

Accommodations

Some motels limit the number of rooms for travelers with pets, and some require pets to be housed in a separate facility. Your lodging plans will have to be made in advance and your mobility will be restricted by "No Pet" regulations in many public and private areas.

It is possible to find hotels and motels throughout the United States and Canada that will accommodate pets, but even if a facility is listed as accepting pets, you should phone ahead for reservations and discuss their conditions.

If you will be staying with friends or relatives, you must consider whether or not your guinea pig will be welcome. Are there any members of the host family with allergies? Are there other pets in the host household and if so, how will your guinea pig get along with them? Separate facilities for your guinea pig may be necessary.

Veterinary Care on the Road

Carry your guinea pig's medical history with you. Be sure to include any pertinent medical history information in an emergency kit along with health certificates and identification information.