Planning to travel with your pet? After a solid year of staying put, you better believe people are as eager as they’ve ever been to spread their wings and fly, fly away. Or in some cases, hit the pavement for a sweet road trip. Here’s the thing, though: the pandemic brought on a record-making surge of pet adoptions, and many pet owners are game for bringing their fur companion along for the fun. In fact, according to a recent survey by Woof Together, 42% of travelers say they’d choose a destination based on whether Felix can accompany them, and 55% say their pet is as important to them as their children. The travel industry is highly aware of this pet-focused trajectory and has pivoted accordingly to better accommodate consumers and guests during their travel with pets. From pet accessories that turn your car into a comfy and safe spot for Fido to hotels that go out of their way to welcome paws from far or near, it’s a great time to be a pet owner (and a pet!). To help you better navigate all upcoming travel with fur friends, we reached out to pet experts for some helpful advice. Here are useful tips for traveling with your pet.
Tips for Traveling With Your Pet
Hitting the skies or road with your animal companion? Whether you are flying or going on a road trip with your pet, we’ve got you covered with useful tips for traveling with your pet. Follow the expert advice below and you will be on your way to a grand, stress-free adventure with your pet.
Check in With the Vet Before Going on Vacation with Your Pet
Make an appointment with your veterinarian before traveling with your pet. Scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian pre-trip is good practice.
“Check with your veterinarian before leaving home to ensure that your pet is up to date on vaccinations, since your pet may be exposed to pets of unknown vaccination status during the trip,” advises Dr. Link Welborn, DVM, and chief veterinary officer for Covetrus. “Taking along a copy of your pet’s vaccination record is also a good idea.”
You can also inquire about FDA-approved medication for pets that help prevent motion sickness, which are only available by prescription. Dr. Welborn adds that your veterinarian can also likely provide medications to help relieve anxiety and advise on the use of pheromones to help your pet be calmer when traveling. For example, there’s Feliway for cats and Adaptil for dogs.
Get Your Pet Microchipped Before Traveling with Your Pet
If your pet isn’t already microchipped, they really should be microchipped before traveling with your pet.
“Making sure that your pet has a microchip and that it is registered to you in a national database can be critical if you are separated from your pet,” notes Dr. Welborn. “Having a collar with your contact information on your pet is also wise, but it should be a breakaway collar just in case it gets caught on something if your pet is away from you.”
Research Local Vets and Emergency Pet Hospitals
In addition to checking in with your veterinarian, it’s a good idea to research vets and emergency pet hospitals near your hotel during your vacation with your pet. And in the case of a road trip with your pet, it’s a good idea to research the vets at the towns you will be passing through. Keep a short list of names, locations, and phone numbers of vets and emergency pet hospitals. Though it’s unlikely you’ll need to use these during your trip, it’s always good to be prepared and it helps create peace of mind in case there is an emergency with your pet while on vacation.
Get Travel Advice from Pet Owners
Get travel advice from pet owners. Check out photos of pet-friendly travel destinations posted by fellow pet owners. Download purrch, an app that connects people and experiences to make pet life better. Keep in touch with fellow pet enthusiasts and veterinary experts wherever you wander. Once you’ve signed up and created a profile for your pet(s), you can begin posting and swapping info. Dish advice, share your favorite pet-friendly destinations and products (or discover some new ones), and post all the pics of your floof for fellow pet enthusiasts to see.
Choose Pet-Friendly Hotels and Restaurants
Check sites like Trivago, Expedia, Hotels.com and Airbnb to see what hotels, lodging, and restaurants are pet-friendly before you book a stay or make a reservation. These travel sites have a “pet-friendly” option you can select when searching for hotels to stay with your pet. You can also use a site like Pets Welcome to help you in your search.
“If you’re driving to your destination, look for pet-friendly rest areas along the way for you and your dog to stretch your legs and take bathroom breaks to relieve anxiety during the trip,” advises Dr. Welborn.
Research Pet Protocol for Airlines and Travel Destinations
In addition to researching pet-friendly hotels and restaurants, it’s important to inquire about airline pet policies before traveling with your pet. Bring Fido has created a helpful guide for traveling with pets, but double check since these rules are subject to change.
“Some airlines require travel certificates by a veterinarian, letters of acclamation, or temperament statements. This is the case for domestic flights, as well, and not just something to be on the lookout for when flying internationally, says Dr. Brian Bourquin, DVM, a veterinarian at Boston Veterinary Clinic.
On that note, international travel with pets does have more moving parts. Dr. Boutquin says that regulations for pet travel vary drastically from country-to-country, and that some may even require quarantines for pets.
“We take international travel very seriously at Boston Veterinary Clinic. We have one doctor at our practice who handles coordinating all International Health Certificates (IHC) for our patients,” he says. “With some countries having strict guidelines, you may find out that rabies treatments need to be planned up to six months in advance. The take home is that you should be doing your research before traveling with your pet. Plan early and plan ahead.”
Get Your Pet Comfortable With Their Crate
Whether you’re flying or driving with your pet, it’s important that your pet feels safe and comfortable in their crate during the trip. This is definitely more of an issue when flying with your pet—especially if your pet is larger and will require being in their crate for the duration of the flight without you—but you’ll also want the option when driving on a road trip with your pet.
“If your pet isn’t going to be confined when traveling it’s critical that they are sufficiently trained so that they won’t try to jump into your lap while you’re driving,” says Dr. Welborn. “Many people feel guilty for confining their pet to a crate or carrier during car travel, but with proper training, pets should think of their crate or carrier as one of their favorite places to be.“
Understand Your Pet’s Needs and Limitations
Have a good understanding of your pet’s habits and lifestyle preferences before traveling and plan accordingly. For example, some pets thrive on long road trips while others feel anxious in a car. And some pets are OK hanging back at the hotel while others cannot handle being left alone in new and unfamiliar spaces.
“Set your pet up for success from the start of the stay,” says Dr. Bourquin. “Most hotels won’t allow you to leave your pet in your room if you leave the hotel for the day, so be cautious of your dog’s barking and destruction in the room. If your pet often barks and whines I would not recommend leaving him or her in the room alone. Additionally, if your pet is not comfortable and he or she may likely disrupt other guests staying in the hotel.”
Make The Car Ride Comfy and Safe for Your Pet
When your pet isn’t in their crate during a road trip, it’s nice to have a comfortable spot for them in the car. “Who wouldn’t want a cozy place to play when traveling? A seat cover will allow you and your dog to enjoy being on the go,” says Olivia Crum the travel and access product manager for PetSafe. “It will also keep your seats free of moisture, muddy paws, and pet hair.”
She adds that it’s also important to keep your dog safe and secure with a crash tested vehicle harness. They will still be able to move around in the backseat if needed, but the pet seatbelt system will keep them as safe as possible while preventing distracted driving.
Try to Maintain Some of Your Pet’s Routine During Travel
Just like humans, our pets are creatures of habit and any sort of inconsistency can create some discomfort and anxiety. This is particularly true of mealtimes (we’re sure you’ve noticed your pets always seem to know when their food should be served!). It’s important to try to maintain some routine while traveling with your pet.
“Ideally, pets would have familiar routines when traveling, particularly with meals and bathroom breaks for dogs,” says Dr. Welborn. “If your pet is on medication, pill organizers can help you stay on track with administering medications when normal daily routines are altered while traveling.”
Bring Your Pet’s Favorite Toys and Treats
Having a piece or two “of home” is a simple way to make the transition from home to travel easier on your fur companion. Crum says, “Bring their favorite toy, water, and food bowl, and don’t forget their treats! Using treats and praise frequently will help your pet go in and out of the vehicle.”
Other items you can bring while on vacation with your pet include their go-to pet bed or blanket, their favorite snacks, and the same food they eat at home. These consistencies also help your pet maintain a sense of routine during travel.
This post is powered by purrch, a team of ultra-passionate pet peeps, adoption advocates, and fellow pet nerds who believe that animals big and smol make us—and the world—better. We can’t wait to see your heckin’ cute pets, watch your Tails, and build friendships along the way. You can download the purrch app here.
Purrch is the only pet-first social network in the world—a social sanctuary created by pet nerds for pet nerds. Using unique technology, it brings together pet people of all types and locales, giving them a place to unleash, learn, and create friendships. It’s the place to find community, have authentic conversations, and of course get a good LOL. Purrch’s technology also helps rescue organizations find that perfect forever home fit for animal companions in their care. Website: Purrch and Follow Purrch on Instagram.
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