Travels With Fido: Tips for Taking Your Pet on Vacation
Research Makes It Possible
If you want to bring your pet on the road, it will take a little more research than planning a trip with your human companions. Luckily you can find pet friendly hotels in Las Vegas, New York and just about anywhere in between — if you do your research. Some hotels may only have a few rooms that are pet friendly — otherwise the dander from the animals’ coats may cause allergic reactions in other guests — so you’d be wise to book ahead of time to make sure there are available rooms.
The same goes with airlines. If you’d like to take your dog, cat or other pet with you when you fly, you’ll need to check the baggage requirements to see how much it will cost you to check your pet’s carrier as luggage or if you’ll be allowed to bring the carrier with you on the plane.
Look for Pet Owners’ Travel Reviews
Reviews from other pet owners who have traveled to the same destinations will help you get a picture of how pet-friendly the places you go will be. Will there be outdoor seating at restaurants where your dog will be welcomed with a bowl of water or a treat? Or, perhaps there’s a good local dog park where your pet — and you — can socialize with locals. Understanding the places you can bring your dog (or cat if it’s leash-trained) while you’re out will also help you plan an itinerary that will be as interesting for your pet as it is for you.
Get Your Pet Accustomed to Travel
Before you set off on your next trip with your pet, be sure to prepare your fuzzy buddy. Animals can become very territorial and can feel anxious if they’re suddenly taken to a new place with many new smells, sounds and other stimuli. If you can, plan smaller day or overnight trips to new locations to see how your pet copes with the new experiences. If travel makes your dog or cat very nervous, he or she might be better off at home with a petsitter or at a boarding facility. This will allow them to avoid the pressure of having to adapt to new things on your trip and will keep you from worrying about your pet’s anxiety on the road.
You will also need to get your pet accustomed to using a carrier if you’re going to fly. Because your dog or cat will have to be in the carrier for the duration of the flight as well as an hour or so before and after, you’ll need to make sure that he or she can stand being in the carrier for that long without making messes, needing extra food, or becoming noisy. A week or more before your trip, let your pet explore the carrier. Put Fluffy in the carrier for a few hours at a time to practice. Gradually increase the time spent in the carrier until you can be sure that your pet will be comfortable for the length of your flight.
Make Sure Your Paperwork Is in Order
Of course you know to bring your identification with you when you travel — but did you know you should bring your pet’s as well? Bring any pet licenses or identification that you have with you, as well as any paperwork from the veterinarian outlining your pet’s health and specifying any animal medicines you might be carrying with you. If you are traveling internationally with your pet, you’ll probably want to look at putting together a “pet passport,” a collection of documents often required by foreign governments when you cross the border with an animal.
About the Author: Alanna Myselbek has operated a dog walking service, a pet dormitory for university students, and a small business helping new pet owners train their dogs and cats. She now has three finches, a weasel and two golden retrievers.