We love our pets and they are part of the family. So when we travel for the holidays, of course we want our pets to come along too! There are things we need to consider before we travel with our pets, steps we need to take before we hit the road, and ways to make the trip enjoyable for them!
Expert veterinarian Dr. Kristen Andrews has highlighted things to consider before traveling with our pets, what we need to do to prepare for a trip, and ways to make a trip enjoyable for pets when traveling over Christmas.
Your Guide For Holiday Travel With Pets This Christmas
Things to Consider Before Traveling With Your Pet
Is my pet welcome where I will be traveling?
There are increasingly more and more places that are pet-friendly and cater to families with pets, but not every place will appreciate your furry friend. Check ahead with all the places you will be staying and ensure that they are pet-friendly. Sites such as Bring Fido and Go Pet Friendly and will help you not only find pet-friendly lodging, but also stores, restaurants, attractions, and events.
If you will be staying with friends or family, always ask ahead of time if your pet is welcome. They may have allergies, they may have other dogs and cats that won’t appreciate you bringing your dog or cat along, or they may just not want your pets at their home during the holidays. It’s better to find out before you travel that your pet is not welcome so you can make alternate plans or keep them home, rather than find out after you arrive.
Is my pet fit to travel?
There are many factors to consider before taking a long car ride or plane ride with your pet. Do they enjoy being in the car or are they quite distressed during travel? Do they get carsick? Do they have medical problems that could be worsened with travel such as a pet with arthritis being in a crate for long periods of time, or a pet with a heart condition that could worsen with stress? Sometimes what’s best for our pets is not to take that trip with us.
Will my pet need a health certificate to travel?
Most airlines, international border crossings, and even some states have very specific pet travel requirements, which may include health certificates, acclimation certificates, vaccinations, or other documents. Contact your airline before booking to find out what your pet will be required to have. If traveling abroad or outside the continental US (Hawaii for example), you should contact the Consulate or Embassy in that country to find out their regulations. Sites such as Pet Travel and Pet Travel Center and assist you.
Steps to Take Before Hitting the Road With Pets
Make sure you have proper identification on and for your pet. Have two tags on your pet’s collar, one that includes your name, address, and your phone number. The second is for travel and should include the address and phone number for where you are staying as well as your cell phone number where you can be reached. Have your pet microchipped before travel and make sure all information is up to date. Also, bring along a current photo of your pet in case they run off.
Purchase a crate for your pet to travel in. This is the safest way for your pet to travel in the car. It also gives them a nice place to hide and feel secure when you reach your destination.
Get copies of your pet’s medical records to carry with you, including current vaccine history and any medications they are on.
Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian several weeks in advance to make sure your pet has had all vaccines, prescription medication refills, and parasite prevention that will be needed before heading on the road. If your pet needs something to help calm them during travel, your veterinarian can also discuss options with you at this time. You can also discuss any health certificates needed for travel with your veterinarian.
Pack a travel kit for your pet. Be sure to include collar, harness, leash, food and water, treats, no-spill food and water dishes, toys, bed or blankets, and all medications. Be sure to pack enough supplies to last the entire trip, plus extra just in case. Prepare a first aid kit for your pet. The AVMA has a great list of supplies to help you prepare a first aid kit for your pets. This is very helpful for any mishaps with your furry family members and highly recommended.
Ways to make the trip enjoyable for your pet
Make sure to take plenty of breaks during a road trip and allow your pet get out and stretch, go potty, and drink some water. Plan to stop every 2-3 hours while on the road and keep them on a leash at all times.
Use a crate to safely secure your pet. It is safer for them and safer for you. You can provide a comfy bed or blanket in it as well as their favorite toy to make the trip more enjoyable.
Don’t feed your pet a big meal right before or during travel. Instead, bring some snacks and healthy dog treats to give them at rest stops.
Keep your pet calm during travel and upon arrival at their destination. Using products like Thundershirts, Composure Bite Sized Chews, a few drops of lavender oil on the collar, or in some instances a mild sedative can help make the trip more enjoyable for your pet.
With the right preparation and a little bit of work beforehand, you can have a fun and healthy holiday traveling with your pets. Just remember to use these tips to properly prepare for any Christmas trips and make sure your precious pups are happy to come along for the ride.