Traveling with Pets Over the Holidays

The holidays are here! Many people include their pets in their travel plans. Paying attention to a few simple things can make traveling with pets as stress-free as possible.

Preparing for the trip will help things run smoother once you get to your destination. Bring enough food to get your pet through until you arrive home. Finding the exact brand or flavor of your pet’s favorite food may be a challenge. Similarly, getting prescription medications filled over the holidays might be difficult. If your pet has a medical condition, having access to their medical records would be helpful in case of an emergency. If you plan on boarding your pet, vaccination records are a must.

The next step is getting there. If your pet gets stressed out in the car on short trips, pay attention to their stress level throughout the trip. The goal is to keep pets safe and comfortable in the car. If the dog jumps around the car, you can confine him to a crate or with a “doggy seatbelt”. Cats are masters of getting into small spaces; using a carrier will help make sure you can get the cat out of the car when you arrive. Be sure to put a leash on your dog before you open the car door. Even a dog who normally stays right by your side could get scared by a loud noise and bolt. Losing your dog in an unfamiliar environment is not how you want to spend your trip! Stopping for frequent potty breaks and bringing along a chew toy for active dogs can make the car ride go smoother. If you are taking your cat on a long trip, remember to give them litter box access; you can use a slightly larger carrier with a small litter box in the back. If your pet is prone to getting car sick, it may be best to skip feeding right before the trip.

When traveling with pets, whether your destination is a hotel or a family member’s home, it may not be “pet proofed,” so keep an eye on things they could get into (wrapped gifts, food items, electric cords). If there are a lot of places they could sneak off to, keep them on a long leash within your eye sight. If your dog is used to spending time in a crate, bringing it along for the trip may be a good way to keep him contained but letting him feel safe. Keeping cats in a small section of the home with food, water, and a litter box may be the least stressful option for them. Current pets in the home may not be used to sharing their living space, and these changes in the household can be stressful for them as well. Be sure to supervise pets when they’re together, especially during play and feeding times. Even if your pet is normally free fed, where their food is left out all day, it may be better to feed them meals so you can make sure they are eating. Show them where the food and water bowls are when you first arrive. Because they are in a new situation, you might notice abnormal behavior, like having accidents in the house or jumping up on people. Do your best to monitor your pet and keep the routine as normal as possible.

Hopefully, these tips will make traveling with pets a good, stress-free trip with your furry family members. Happy holidays!