Vacation Time is coming... should I plan to bring my pet with me?

May 18, 2011

As the time for planning family vacations approaches, many people are unsure of whether or not to plan a vacation that includes their pet(s). This is a subject that comes up a lot and deciding to travel with your pet or leave the pet at home can be a difficult one. Certain types of vacations are more accommodating of pets then others and certain types of pets are more travel friendly then others. Here are some things to consider.

The first and most relevant concern is the mode of travel. If you are flying to your destination bringing a pet may not be a great option. Firstly, there will be an additional charge to fly your pet, often a substantial one and you must be sure your carrier is certified to use on airplanes. If it isn’t, you will be required to buy one from the airline or will not be allowed to travel with your pet. Most airlines require pets (except certified therapy animals) to travel in cargo. This is often a very traumatic experience for a pet. Even the most steady dog or cat will be unnerved by the noise, chaos and temperature changes of the cargo hold in a commercial carrier. Sedation is an option, but this can be risky and disorienting for the pet.  If you are driving and the pet is comfortable in the vehicle for long periods, then this provides you with more flexibility and comfort for the pet and is certainly a better option if you want to vacation with your pet.

The second consideration is your accommodations. If you are staying in a hotel, be sure they allow pets when you make your reservation. Many hotels do not allow pets and finding last minute pet friendly accommodations may not be possible.  So, do your home work when you are booking. If you will be visiting family and friends, be sure to check beforehand that your pet is welcome to stay with you at their home. You never know until you ask, but many homes are not ideal for visiting pets. Take into consideration the pets already in the homes you will be visiting, location (ie city condo vs country farm) and any possible allergies both those of the people and the pets. If you are camping or RVing with your pet, be sure that pets are allowed in the parks and campsites you are planning to visit.

The third thing is to consider is your pet and its personality. In general, dogs are much better travel companions than say…fish, birds or cats. Some animals are just more comfortable at home then they are in new place. If your pet is a home-body, take that into consideration. Many pets are happier to stay in their familiar surroundings and receive daily visits from a pet sitter.  Before you travel, ensure that your pet is comfortable being on a leash, for its safety and your peace of mind. This is especially true for cats, as they often take offence to being leashed and will require extra time to get used to it. So if you are planning to travel with your cat begin leash training as soon as you get it. And remember, if you are traveling out of the country you will be required to present proof of current vaccines to cross the border, so make sure you get this paper work (or tags) from your vet before you begin.

More on this topic: - Pet Care

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