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How to travel safely to new destinations with your pet

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Preparing to take your pet on vacation includes hotel accommodations, transportation safety, packing supplies, and more!

Are you craving a vacation? You're not the only one who's ready to bask in the spring sunshine and explore new places. Your pets are just as eager as you, if not more.

If you plan to bring your pet on your next adventure, there are several things you'll need to do to prepare. Here is your comprehensive guide to planning a pet-friendly excursion.

Deciding where to go

Public places like beaches, parks, and hiking trails are almost always pet-friendly. Watch out for signs saying otherwise, but in most cases, you can enjoy a vacation or a staycation with your pet in these places. Sightseeing in a new city can lead to some unique photos with your pet if you can get them to sit still long enough with all the new stimuli. Restaurants and wineries are a huge part of tourism as well. You'll probably need to call ahead or check their website to confirm you can bring your pet, but many places will allow it, especially if they offer outdoor seating.

Where will you stay?

Whenever you travel somewhere new, you'll need a place to stay overnight. Bunking with family or friends makes it easy, especially if they don't have any pets or their pets get along with yours. If you need to stay in a hotel, be prepared for rejection or a nightly pet fee. Always call ahead to verify the hotel is pet-friendly. Most hotels don't allow check-in until the afternoon, so you should plan your arrival around that time. Otherwise, you'll need a pet-friendly place to stall before you can get into your room.

How will you get there?

Each travel company has its own pet policy, and you don't want to hear that you can't board because your pet isn't allowed.

For flights: Short-nosed pets struggle to breathe at higher altitudes, so flying is not recommended at all for those breeds. Flying in the cabin is always better than flying in the cargo space. Plan for extra time at security gates, acclimate your pet to their travel carrier in advance, and choose direct flights whenever possible.

For the road: Always secure your pet in the backseat of your vehicle. Place them in a crate or travel carrier if your pet likes to move a lot. If you open the windows for some air, try to prevent your pet from sticking their head outside because they can be injured by flying debris or develop an infection from the gusts of cold air. Plan for rest stops, and don't leave your pet in the car alone because the temperature can rise quickly and harm them. Train and bus rides are similar, but you'll likely be forced to put your pet in a carrier and possibly in a designated space for them. You'll also have to coordinate potty breaks around the stops that are built into the itinerary.

What to bring

It never hurts to be over-prepared, but sometimes traveling doesn't allow for that. You only have limited space, so make it count with the essentials.

  • Food and water: Measure out enough meals for how many days you'll be gone, and pack a few extra scoops for an emergency. Bring a travel bottle for giving your pet water on the go.
  • Wet food and familiar bowls: Many pets will refuse to eat their food in an unfamiliar setting. Wet food is almost irresistible, so pack a can or two to help coax your pet to eat if they're acting stubborn. Your pet may respond better to mealtime if you bring bowls they know. Familiarize them with some travel bowls before you leave.
  • Collar, leash, and harness: Make sure your pet's tags are current on the collar you bring. Don't forget a harness for longer walks. Most places will require you to keep your pet on a leash, so definitely don't forget to pack one of those, too.
  • Treats: Giving your pet little bonuses throughout your trip will keep them in good spirits, especially if they show any signs of fear or reluctance. You might also try some of the calming treats on the market that can help your pet relax during travel. Make sure you talk to your veterinarian before giving your pet any new treats or substances, though.
  • Toys: A bored pet can become a destructive pet. Make sure your pet has some entertainment if you plan on leaving them alone in a hotel room. A damage fee is the worst way to end a vacation.

Before you leave, make sure your pet has received flea and tick medication recently, especially if you're going to a place where these parasites are common. Also, take note of potential hazards like poisonous plants or extreme weather that might harm your pet. Ultimately, preparation is your best option for protecting your furry friend and having a delightful time with them on vacation.

Have a question about pet health? Want to become the best possible pet parent? Find helpful tips, reminders, and insight to giving your furry friend the best possible care with For Pet's Sake! Learn more at drdevonsmith.com.