Traveling with pets is today’s latest rage with record numbers of pets and their people getting ready to embark either by car, plane, boat or train. Nearly 20 million pets mostly dogs are expected to be traveling this holiday season posing all kinds of thorny hospitality issues for canines, as well as their owners and guests. Pet lovers now have several great options available to enjoy the holidays with their best 4-legged friends, whether traveling “Over the river or through the woods” with Fido and Fluffy.
Over half of America’s pet travelers already enjoy pet-friendly commercial venues and today the numbers of holiday travel sites available to pets are soaring. In the last few years, nearly 45 percent more hotels, motels, parks, campgrounds, resorts, designer boutiques, and even neighborhood bars and airlines have opened their doors. They actively court pet lovers and extend their hospitality. That’s good news for people looking for the perfect pet-friendly vacation this season.
Top end hotels from the Ritz Carlton to the Hilton now welcome pets with open arms. The W Hotel chain offers a canine-friendly Woof program which includes pet pillows with special treats placed on them at turn down time, and gourmet menus prepared to suit a king. Pets are also a social icebreaker and help spark up conversations making it easier for traveling singles to meet new people.
What’s the Best Way to Plan your Trip?
Plan and prepare your trip ahead of time so you don’t find yourself in a frenzy at the last minute. Check out websites dedicated to traveling with pets such as www.TRIPSwithPETS.com. Look for vacation ads in pet-related magazines and newsletters. The AAA travel guides provide listings and the Dog Lovers Companion offers a series of books with inside information on where pets are genuinely welcome at www.dogloverscompanion.com. If you think you might need a kennel on your trip, check the web for kennels American Boarding Kennel Association at www.abka.com. For a pet sitter, try Pet Sitters International at www.petsit.com.
It’s always a good idea to call your hotel ahead of time to be sure your pet is welcome.
Prepare your Pet for Traveling
Holidays are hectic and for most of us, this mean a change in our routine which means stress to your pet. Proper ID, Microchip, Collar & Leash are a must. No matter where you go or what you do, always be sure your pet has proper ID tags, with your home address and the address of your destination.
It makes sense to bring along some of your pets’ regular food and water.
Visit your vet! Make sure your pet is healthy and able to make the trip before you decide to bring him along. Does your pet need to be updated on shots or is it time for an annual health checkup? Senior pets need special care.
Get a copy of your pet’s shot and health records, as you never know when you might need them. You will need a health certificate from your veterinarian if you plan to travel to another state. Your pets Health Certificate is needed within 10 to 30 days from your date of travel if going by plane. Most airlines accept pets, except for Southwest Air Lines. For those of you traveling by train, Amtrak does not accept pets.
Prepare Pets to Handle Trips with a Minimum of Stress
Whether going by plane, train or in your car, train your pet to travel in his or her kennel so he feels comfortable. This will be invaluable training and will make the entire traveling experience less stressful to your pet whether you’re going across the country or town.
The Kennel size should be large enough, so your pet can stand up, sit down, turn around and lie down comfortably. Label your kennel! If you are traveling by plane, the kennel is required to say: “this end up” and “live animal.” Be sure to include your home address, the address of your destination and your contact information. Never leave your pet unattended in your car while you are shopping or when you are at the airport.
Pet Tips for Traveling by Car
Take a few short trips before you leave so your pet gets used to being in the car. Try to keep your pet on a similar potty schedule that you do at home and make stops when you would normally let your pet out. Bring your pet’s food, water and vet records. It’s also a good idea to remember his or her leash and collar, along with proper ID tags and a pet first aid kit.
Travel Training Pet Tips
Basic obedience helps a lot! Be sure your pet walk on a loose leash and comes when called. Teach your pet to ride calmly in your car. Try a pet safety belt as they help reduce motion sickness. Avoid tranquilizers if possible, they lower blood pressure which can be risky especially for older pets and those with heart problems.
Dr. Carol’s Tip: Holistic Pet Remedy for Motion Sickness: “ginger” a piece of a gingersnap cookie works well and tastes good.
Dr. Carol’s Tip: Holistic Remedy for Nervous pets:
Bach’s 5 Flower Rescue Remedy is a very safe, and effective flower mixture. A few drops can be added to your pet’s food or water bowl or you can give the drops directly by mouth. They are safe and calming for pets and their people. Essential Oil combinations of chamomile and blue cypress specifically formulated for pets are safe, easily applied topically to your dog and cat and smell great!
Teach your pet to rest calmly in his or her crate. Your pet should wait at doors for your permission to enter and exit, so they won’t run other guests down. Your pets’ diet and snacks need to be monitored. Remember to use good common sense!
Try to stick to your pet’s routine diet as much as possible and avoid rich, fatty foods. If indigestion does occur, a general rule of thumb is to withhold food and water for about 6 to 8 hours; most pets recover and are fine.
Dr. Carol’s Tip: Herbal Remedy for an Upset Stomach: warm peppermint tea, it tastes good and soothes an upset stomach for you and your pet.
Keep fatty foods to less than 10% of your pet’s diet, which helps to avoid pancreatitis and diabetes. Snacks should be less than 5% of your pet’s diet and healthy snacks like veggies, fruit and lean meat are best! Let your pet exercise before meals and rest one hour after eating to avoid Bloat, especially if you own a large deep chested dog like a Great Dane or a Doberman. Throw out table scraps. Table scraps and table food are two completely different issues!
When you are shopping, leave your pet at home. Don’t leave your pet alone in your parked car and never leave him alone in the car while it’s running because carbon monoxide fumes from the engine are very dangerous. Never leave your pet unattended at the airport
Pets need a safe-haven or a place for rest and recuperation. Pets need quiet time and a place to retreat from all the festivity. As a rule, pets that are very young, sick or frail, and those that are pregnant or in heat should not travel with you. Give your pet extra attention and lots of love, so they don’t feel left out of the festivities.
Dr. Carol’s TIP: Don’t give pets as gifts and avoid bringing home a new pet over the holidays. It’s just too hectic.
Foods and Treats to Avoid: No chocolate, No bones, especially no turkey bones. Poultry bones splinter easily and can block and/or lacerate your pet’s intestines. Avoid raisins, grapes and Macadamian nuts as they are toxic to pets.
Pet Etiquette Tips at Hotels and Resorts:
- Be courteous, so pets are welcome back.
- Keep your dog clean. Pets should be groomed and smell good.
- No muddy paws, please.
- Keep your pet under control and be sure he or she is obedient.
- No excess barking or aggressive behavior.
- Pick up after your pet and leg-lifting on the furniture is a no-no.
The Bottom Line is don’t let your pet be a nuisance, say thank you and tip generously!
Pet Tips for Traveling by Plane
Try to book direct nonstop flights. Avoid taking your pet by air with temperature extremes such as when it’s too hot or too cold. Small dogs can fit under your seat and can travel in the cabin with you.
Dr. Carol’s TIP: Ask the airline if flowers will be in the cargo section. Flowers are packed in dry ice and the fumes are highly toxic to pets.
Pug-Nosed Breeds like Frenchie’s and Boston Terriers for example, should not travel in the cargo section of the plane as they are prone to breathing problems. Most airlines accept pets, except not Southwest Air. Your pet should not have any food four hours before flight time and be sure to groom your pet and trim their nails before your departure date.
What Your Pet Needs Before Traveling
- Proper airline approved kennel with labels
- Bring Food and water
- Bring a copy of your pet’s vaccination records
- Health Certificate is needed within 10-30 days of departure. Check the policy with each airline.
If you are going to Hawaii, remember pets have a six-month quarantine.
In general, very young, sick or frail pets, as well as those that are pregnant or in heat, should not travel by air. It’s simply too risky!
Traveling with your pet is a great way for you and your pet to get closer and spend special time together. By making proper preparations in advance, training your dog or cat and giving them lots of love and supervision, you’ll both have a great time and avoid the holiday crowd at the veterinary emergency clinics.