Pet Travel Tips

How to Travel with Pets this Holiday Season

It’s that time of year again – and undoubtedly your calendars have filled up with holiday parties, family gatherings, and visits with friends. While for many these events are nothing else but dreading time spent with the in-laws or rushing out to buy new party outfits; for many more this means time spent away from your family members; of the furry variety. If you are travelling out of town and planning on taking your pets, with a bit of planning you can see to it that everyone has a great holiday season.

Here are some tips to help keep your holiday a merry one (fur everybody!)

  1. Before you pack up your entire life (or your pets) you should ask yourself; is your pet actually welcome? Not everyone’s home is Pet-friendly. Make sure in advance that bringing your pet to someone’s home for the holidays is okay. Ask your friends or family member’s that have been kind enough to give up a guest room in their homes what you can do to make bringing your pet along for the visit more convenient for everyone. Are there any areas that are off limits or certain rules your host has that will need to be followed during your stay? Check before booking your hotel room that pets are allowed, and be sure to let them know your pet will be accompanying you. Find out about any pet policies they may have or any non-refundable deposits (you don’t want to get stuck paying a ridiculous fee upon check-in).
  1. It’s important that you ensure your pet is properly cared for during transportation. Your local pet store or veterinary clinic will have many options or recommendations to for you and your specific pets needs in order to travel safely. Although listening to your pet whimper in the car can pull on your heart strings it is best not to let them roam freely or sit on your lap while driving. It’s also helpful to get your pet used to their carrier or harness before your trip; it will make the ride go more smoothly and reduce anxiety for both you and them.
  1. Ah the new places, the scents, and the new people…my tail is wagging already!! All of these new experiences is what makes traveling exciting for our dogs, however understanding the difference between “vacation” behavior and what’s allowed in a new environment can be confusing for our furry friends. As we tend to have a more care-free attitude while on vacation, this shouldn’t be the case for your dog and the normal rules you impose on them in their daily lives. If you think your dog would benefit from a brush-up on their basic obedience skills before you go, try taking them to a lesson or two (your host will love you for it!)
  1. It may seem like you’re packing your child up for sleep away camp for the first time, and in a way I guess you are… but don’t forget your pet’s favorite toy that keeps them entertained at home, you’ll regret it if you don’t. This will be extremely helpful when you want your pet to occupy themselves and give you a chance to visit with guests. Remember that toy you got, the one your dog absolutely loved when you brought it home, you know the one… it’s rubber and excellent for chewing, oh yeah and it squeaks. Now remember how badly you wanted to throw it out the car window…..? Yeah, don’t bring that one. Whether you’re staying in a hotel or with friends and family, that squeaking of your pup’s favorite toy can get on anyone’s last nerve. Holidays are stressful enough, let’s not push our host within an inch of their sanity; chances are they are already there and one more thing may push them over the edge!
  1. Music, food, wine, standing on your feet in those gorgeous but uncomfortable shoes, and that stunning yet surprisingly uncomfortable dress…. It’s all so…. Exhausting! Guess what, it is for our pets as well! Just like a toy can help to occupy our pets, their beds can give them a quiet and familiar place to get away from all the noise and excitement. If your pets suffers from anxiety, soft music may help to relieve stress and keep them calm.
  1. With holiday parties come lots of food; which for a non-pet owner may seem harmless to give to your pet. The reality is that while they taste good to us foods such as chocolate, grapes, corn and macadamia nuts are toxic for your dog. Consuming these can cause gastrointestinal distress and create or add to your pet’s anxiety. Try to remind people not to feed your pet, or put up a couple of signs…. You know like the ones you see at the zoo, “Don’t feed the animals”
  1. Try to maintain your pet’s normal routines like meal times and exercise. This will also help to alleviate any stress and help to keep your pet calm. Being away from home is hard on everyone’s routines so if you find it helpful, set an alarm to remind yourself. Making sure to take your dog for their walk will help keep your pet calm and also maintain the same level of attention they are used to getting from you.
  1. You can’t assume that what you think is normal behavior at home other people will as well. Keeping the door or gate closed isn’t something that non-pet owners will consider. Pets can run out the door in an instant, so be sure your pet’s ID tags are current, with a phone number where you can be reached while you’re traveling. In the event you need to make posters, make sure you have a recent picture of your pet. Even better, make signs of your own to put up around your host’s home reminding people that there are pets present that like to escape.
  1. Having your pet’s veterinary records with you could be extremely helpful and a real time saver should there be an emergency. No, don’t pack up all your important papers; scan them onto a USB drive – you are travelling after all.

And most importantly, try to stay calm and not caudle you pet. Over-excitement comes with the holidays and your pet will undoubtedly pick up on it – so try to relax and stay calm.

Happy Holidays from Rentza!