The Pros and Cons of Traveling with Your Pet

Things to Consider Before Making that Decision

It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over! As the nights start to get a little cooler in some places, people are returning from vacations and school is starting in the fall. It’s that time of year when we many people go back to work and students head back to school. It’s also a great time of year to travel in the fall as airports are less crowded and roads are still safe in most places to drive. As well, it’s a great time of year to start planning for holiday and winter travel. Whether it’s a Caribbean winter escape or a family reunion, most pet parents have to think of their beloved family furry member when making travel plans. Are you thinking of the pros and cons of travelling with your pet? If so, here is a list of pros and cons of taking your pet with you.

Pet-friendly Hotels:

The great news is that traveling with your pets is easier than ever before. As more hotels across the U.S. and worldwide are pet friendly, there are many options and places for you and your pooch to stay and feel welcome. It’s important to do your homework and call the hotel before you book it, and check the hotel’s pet policies. For instance, some hotels may have restrictions on breed, age, size, and the number of pets that are permitted.

Flying on an Airline:

If you are booking a trip to fly on an airplane, check the airline’s policies for bringing pets. Also, taking your pet on an airplane poses health risks especially if your pet is placed in cargo and can be a stressful experience. If you are driving, you can plan ahead and place your dog or cat in a carrier and take short rides in the car for a while to get them used to a road trip. You will need your pet’s health record and make sure they are updated on their vaccines such as rabies.

If that option doesn’t seem appealing or you cannot find a pet friendly hotel in your travel destination, then leaving your pet with a family or friend is great, but if you cannot do that, then boarding your pet at a reputable kennel or pet resorts might be an option. These are places where you can leave your dog overnight, for a couple of days, or longer. Book ahead of time as the holidays are busy and do your research so you are not worried about your pet when you are away on vacation. Another option is to leave your pet with your veterinarian or vet clinic as they may offer boarding services if it’s a short stay. You can check with your vet.

When making travel decisions, consider what is safest and most comfortable for your pet? For instance, unless you’ll be able to spend a lot of time with your dog, they might be happier at home than coming along on your trip. Dogs require attention, i.e. walking them, and spending time with them. If you are not able to spend a lot of time with your dog, for instance, if you are visiting family during the holidays then they might be happier at home or with a familiar family member or friend, or pet sitter. As a general rule, cats are territorial creatures and they might better off in their own home.

Here are some tips to help keep your pet safe and plan ahead.

  1. Speak with your veterinarian and/or book an appointment for a check-up.

  2. Check your pet’s identification and update if needed i.e. microchip, ID tags, etc.

  3. Practice taking your pet on car rides in a carrier so they are used to being in there.

  4. Traveling by plane requires research and planning well ahead so call the airline.

  5. Traveling by car also requires planning and packing for a longer road trip for your pet.

  6. Find pet-friendly hotels/resorts so that you and your pet are comfortable and welcomed.

  7. Pack a suitcase for your pet including a pet safety travel kit and bring their favorite toys.

  8. Consider leaving your pet behind and booking a pet “staycation.” You can check my tips.

You know your pet and every companion animal is unique with their quarks, preferences, and personalities. For instance, our beloved dog, Charlie, a small breed Pomeranian, was a great traveller. He was eager to get in the car, ride in an airplane, and never got car sick or seemed to mind. We moved from Canada to the U.S. with this dog without any problems.

On the other hand, our beloved cat Jackson never travelled with us. He preferred staying at home. He didn’t enjoy being in his crate or going in the car. We left him at home with a pet sitter. As well, our (now) senior citizen German Sheppard dog, Lily, didn’t travel with us. She is a large dog and putting her in the cargo of an airplane and taking her to a hotel didn’t seem like a good idea. Our latest family furry member, Oakley, a German Sheppard puppy gets car sick on short car rides. We will likely leave him behind with the dog sitter when we travel for the holidays and need to book his stay well in advance as she gets full pretty fast. We’ve left him there before and I get text updates with photos/videos and he seems happy as can be playing!!

I hope these tips are helpful when making your decision to take your pet with you when travelling or leaving them behind. I would consider my pet’s preferences when making that decision and what situation will be most comfortable for them. They are each individuals.

Most pet parents can sense what is best for their pets and they want to make a good decision. Here are a couple of websites that you might find helpful when thinking of traveling with pets:

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
Check on their website on traveling with pets – requirements are listed on the page.

Photo by Angelo Pantazis on Unsplash