Thinking of Traveling with your Pets

Tips for You and Your Pet’s Safety

Some dogs love to travel
Photo by Jimmy Conover on Unsplash

As the warmer season is approaching and spring break is almost here, many pet parents are planning to travel. There are considerations to think about if you are bringing your pet! You will need to purchase a crate or carrier bag (depending on the pet’s size) and you should put your pet in there before you take your trip so your pet feels more comfortable. You might want to give your pet’s favorite treats and rewards to associate travel with good stuff. Make sure to place your pet in the back seat in their carrier or crate (not in the front seat) if you are driving with them. Also, take your pet on short trips in the car so your pet is familiar with car rides and talk to your veterinarian about the pet’s health and concerns. Usually, it is your veterinarian that can provide safety tips to make it easier for you to learn about traveling with your pet and ensure that your pet’s safety and health is looked after.

Bring a pet friendly travel kit – you can purchase it online or at some pet stores that contain the basic essentials: water bowl, medication, pet food that is suited for travel (doesn’t spoil in the heat), first aid, leash, collar, travel documents if you are travelling out of country, etc. As well, research the policies of your hotel’s accommodations ahead. Call the resort, hotel, bed/breakfast, and get something in writing from them to ensure that upon arrival you and your pet are not surprised and are welcomed there. Training your pet for the car by getting them used to unfamiliar crates, carriers, and harnesses ahead of time can be good practice for the trip planned. You can take shorter car rides in the crate, carrier, or place your pet in the harness for shorter periods of time. Get comfortable with having your pet away from you in the back seat of the vehicle. If you are travelling on an airplane, you need to contact the airline for information on carriers, vaccines, and other requirements when you are booking your trip and get documentation.

Many places have pet-friendly accommodations. You can check online for hotels that allow pets. Alternatively, you might want to find a pet sitter or board your pet at a daycare if you are going on a trip that is not pet-friendly. For instance, some hotels and resorts don’t allow you to bring your pet or offer any pet accommodation. As well, the decision to bring your pet or leave them behind depends on where you are traveling – the climate, familiarity with the place, distance of the trip – a long car ride or plane ride is harder on your pet’s health. For a shorter weekend get-away, for instance, taking your pet to a pet-friendly hotel or cottage or friend/family’s vacation home can be great.

Taking your pet with you on a trip can be fun, adventurous, and a memorable experience, but make sure to do your homework first. Think of the health and safety of your pet first. Consider your pet’s individual preferences including temperament for travel, and health and safety. For instance, if you have an elderly pet, they may not tolerate trips as well as a younger companion animal. Also, ask yourself a few questions: is the trip a getaway for you, your entire family, and is it a trip pet-friendly destination? Sometimes it’s easier for your pet if you leave them with a loved one rather than risk taking them to an unfamiliar place that may be stressful. It also depends on your pet’s breed, age, personality, and comfort level with travel. For instance, my dearly departed dog Charlie, a Pomeranian, was easy to travel with. He was used to car rides every day and since we moved several times with him he seemed fine to travel in car rides and even on airplanes. Whereas our rescue dog, Freddie, a miniature poodle, suffers from separation anxiety and we do not travel with him. He is happy to stay at home. It’s easiest to make the decision based on your circumstances. If you can hire a pet sitter, that might be easiest for your pet staying home. If you decide to bring your pet on a trip, you can find helpful information online for traveling with pets to make the trip safe and enjoyable.