Spending time with loved ones is an important part of the holiday season, and with families scattered across the country, you may plan on traveling this year. Finding a pet sitter at this time of year can be challenging, and your pet would rather spend time with you than at a boarding facility—so, why not take her along? Pet-friendly airlines and hotels make traveling with your best friend easier than ever, and many pets love car rides. With a little planning, including your pet in your holiday vacation plans can be fun and stress-free.
Car travel with your pet
If your pet is used to car rides, you won’t need to spend much time preparing her for your upcoming trip. But, if she hasn’t traveled much, or if she becomes anxious in the car, you will need to acclimate her before your departure. Start by rewarding her with a treat for simply jumping in the car, without leaving your driveway. Advance to short car trips to nearby fun places, such as the park or pet store, and reward her with lots of treats and praise. Gradually work up to longer trips, so your pet learns that car trips can be fun. If she remains anxious or gets carsick, speak to your family veterinarian about medications that can help.
You will need to pack supplies for your pet’s car trip, including:
- Food and water bowls
- Litter box, litter, and a scoop
- Plastic bags
- Paper towels
You will also need to safely restrain your pet. Cats should always ride in a secured carrier or crate that cannot shift or fall off your car seat if you abruptly stop. Dogs should wear a harness that safely attaches to the seat. Your pet should never be allowed to freely roam through your car, as she could be injured if you stop quickly or are in an accident. Unrestrained pets can also be a distraction and cause an accident.
During your road trip, stop every two hours to let your pet take a potty break. Dogs can be walked on a leash at roadside rest stops, while cats should be allowed out of their crate and given litter-box access if one does not fit inside the crate. Offer your pet water and a few treats to reinforce the positive rewards she has come to associate with car rides.
Air travel with your pet
Many people fly with their pets, and most airlines are accommodating, but you must plan ahead. Each airline has significantly different rules about pet travel, and researching your airline’s pet policy is critical to ensure you meet all travel criteria and know exactly what to expect on your travel day. All airlines have vaccination requirements, and if your pet needs boosters, you will need to make an appointment well in advance of your flight. In addition, your pet will need a health certificate issued by a veterinarian no more than 10 days before flying, to confirm she is free from infectious diseases.
Important questions to ask before flying include:
- What is the pet travel fee?
- Where are pet relief stations located in the airports I will visit?
- Is there a size limit for pets who can ride in the plane’s cabin?
- Will my pet be required to travel in the plane’s cargo area?
- Are there temperature restrictions for pet travel in the cargo area?
- What type of travel crate is acceptable for my pet?
Hotel stays with your pet
Pet-friendly hotels are becoming more common, but do your homework well ahead of your trip to ensure you can find one where you are staying. Reserve a pet-friendly room with a customer service representative instead of online to confirm that your furry friend is expected. Be sure to ask about weight and breed restrictions if your pet is large, or a breed categorized as aggressive. Be aware that many hotels designate their smoking rooms as pet-friendly, so if you are sensitive to smoke, ask if another option is available. Also, hotels typically charge a pet fee that may not be refundable, whether or not your pet leaves a mess. Lastly, find out if you are permitted to leave your pet unattended in the room, and if she must be restricted to a crate when you do.
If you have questions about traveling with your pet, or need to schedule a pre-travel appointment, contact us.