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Holiday Traveling...With Pets

The holiday season can be hectic for all of us. Did you know that our pets can sense our stress and know that our routines have been altered? Pets are always watching our cues and as the holidays roll around and we frantically rush about, our pets know that something is up! If you've got travel plans this season, there're even more shakeups to the norm...and more for you to consider when it comes to planning a safe, smooth holiday vacation. Whether you're visiting family or looking for a quieter getaway, holiday travel requires special consideration when you've got pets on board!

Here are a few tips to help make planning your holiday travels with your pet a little less stressful:

- Know your pet:  How well your pet travels, how he or she adapts to new situations and how much grandma likes dogs or cats are all important considerations.  If your pet gets really antsy and stressed on long trips or if grandma is not a big fan of dogs or cats, you might be better off leaving your furry buddy home.  If your pet is miserable and grandma is miserable, you really aren’t doing either one any favors by forcing the issue.

- Pet sitting:  If you have a family member, a trusted friend or pet sitting service you can rely on then that’s an excellent option.  If the individual stays in your home with your pet, you can leave them a complete list of instructions and everything should go just fine.  If you leave your pet with a pet friendly family member in their home with a complete list of instructions and supplies, everything should go well.  A word of caution; if your family member has pets, make sure they have treated their pet(s) for fleas and ticks.  You don’t want to come home to a flea infested pet.  And, if your family member has cats and you have a dog, please ask them to keep their cat’s food out of reach from your dog.  Dogs love to explore food that isn’t their own and cat food is made for cats, not dogs.

- Boarding: If you don’t have options for pet sitters or family sitters, boarding is also an option.  Should you choose this option, make sure your pet is up to date on all his or her routine shots including Kennel Cough.  Kennel Cough is highly contagious!  Most folks will opt to use their veterinary practice if they offer boarding.  If your veterinarian does not offer boarding, then you should exercise care in choosing where to board your pet.  Check their reviews, make sure the facility is safe (like All About Paws) and make sure your pet is taking preventive medicine for fleas and ticks.  You have no way to know if the owners of the other pets at the facility have been as conscientious as you have.

- Flying versus Road Trip:  If you plan to travel by air, there are lots of considerations; and we encourage you to read the articles under “Sources” at the end of this article.  If you choose to fly, a few major points to consider are:

  • Check with your veterinarian.  If your pet has health issues or anxiety issues, your veterinarian may advise against flying.  
  • Not all airlines accept pet passengers.  Make sure you know exactly what the airline policies are BEFORE you purchase your own ticket.
  • Book ahead.  Most airlines have limited capacity for pets and this is their heaviest travel season.  Waiting until the last minute will likely mean all pet spaces will have been taken.

If you decide to take a road trip, here are a few important considerations:

  • Make sure you have a quality pet carrier that offers ample space for your pet.  You’ll want to also make sure you have that carrier tethered in a seat away from an airbag for your pet’s protection.  This will protect your pet and also keep you free from distractions while you are driving.
  • Be sure to take food, snacks and a water bowl for your pet. Also plan to make frequent stops for your pet to be able to use the bathroom and get a little exercise.

-  Motels: If you plan to stay at motels, you’ll be happy to know that more and more motels are pet friendly these days.  Keep in mind that motels typically have a limited number of pet friendly rooms and we are headed for a very busy season.  If you plan to stay in a motel with your pet, now is the time to book.  You’ll want to make sure you pack just as carefully for your pet as you do for yourself.  Make sure you take plenty of food, snacks, a water bowl, toys, a leash and their favorite sleeping pad.  Wow…sounds a lot like packing for small children doesn’t it!!

- Pet ID: Make sure your pet has an ID tag that includes your mobile number since you won’t be home to answer a land line number.  We also recommend you have your pet microchipped.  You don’t want to be hundreds of miles from home and risk losing your pet because it cannot be identified.

- Mooching:  Even the best behaved dog can be tempted to beg for food or sneak some food when no one is looking.  Remember that not all human food is good for dogs.  Keep them away from as much human food as possible including bones.  Absolutely keep them away from candies, sweets, grapes and raisins as they pose the greatest toxic threat for your pets.

We know this is a lot to take in but the holidays are a wonderful time of year and we want to make sure that traveling with your furry friends is as safe and stress free as possible.  From all of us here at All About Paws, we hope you and your pets have a wonderful holiday season!


All About Paws is a boarding, grooming, and doggie daycare service provider in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Located next to Ashby Animal Clinic,trusted veterinary clinic for over 40 years.

Contact Us today to schedule an appointment or to learn more!