Christmas is just around the corner, which for many families, means traveling! If you’ve decided to bring your pet along with you on the family trip, there are some important considerations and preparations to make first.
Travel can be even more stressful for pets than it is for humans, and it also poses some risks. Always check ahead to determine where animals are welcome and what rules apply so you don’t become stuck in a difficult position.
1. Bring your pet in to see the veterinarian prior to travel. Get the all-clear at the checkup and see to it that all vaccinations are current. Have your veterinarian provide documentation of the visit, affirming your pet’s good health and up-to-date vaccinations. Some airlines, travel companies, hotels, campgrounds, and other places require such documentation. Don’t forget to bring your veterinarian’s phone number with you on your trip.
2. If you’re traveling on a plane, train, bus, or other form of public transportation, inquire ahead with the company about whether you can bring your pet onboard. Make sure you find out specifically about your pet’s species and size, as well as about your exact dates of travel (for example, some airlines don’t allow pets during winter months).
3. Find out when you’re initially making your lodging plans whether you can bring your pet. More and more hotels and motels are becoming pet-friendly these days. However, many have size and breed restrictions. It’s easiest with cats and small dogs. Even if you’re staying in someone’s home, make sure you confirm that your pet is welcome.
4. Securely affix an ID tag to your pet before leaving home. It should include your name, address, and phone number. A microchip is a smart idea, as it significantly increases the chances of being reunited with a lost pet.
5. Get a good travel crate for your pet. Choose a spacious, comfortable product with a leak-proof bottom. Make frequent pet pit stops if you’re traveling by car. Let your pet exercise at rest stops.
6. Take along an adequate supply of your pet’s normal food and treats, especially if your cat or dog is a picky eater. Familiarity helps reduce the stress of travel. It’s also a good idea to have some bottled water on hand, or even some of your local water that your pet is used to (particularly if you’re headed somewhere with water of questionable quality).
7. Speak with your veterinarian about when and how often to feed your pet before and during travel. While you don’t want to travel with a hungry animal, feeding your pet right before you depart may result in nausea or vomiting.
8. Be a respectful guest and clean up after your pet, wherever you’re staying. Not only is this common courtesy, it helps ensure pets will continue to be welcome where you stay.