It’s the most wonderful time of the year … when far-flung friends and families gather to reconnect, celebrate traditions, and enjoy each other’s company. It’s also the busiest travel season – the next two months will see more pets traveling with their families than any other point in the year. And, if you’re not careful, this combination can lead to disaster!
So, how do you ensure your holiday travels don’t into a nightmare? Whether you’re an experienced pet traveler, or striking out on your very first pet friendly adventure , these steps will help you avoid the most common pet travel mistakes.
1. Make Your Reservations Early. Getting derailed before you even get started would certainly be a crushing blow during the holidays! If you’ll be traveling by air, train, or rental car, be sure to book early, and be very clear that you’re traveling with a pet. Airlines pet policies differ regarding pet reservations, required documentation, and pricing, so be sure that you’ve dotted your I’s and crossed your T’s. Pet policies for rental cars also vary greatly, so get all the details up front, and document your conversation (including who you spoke to) in case there are any questions later.
Next, think carefully about where you’ll stay during your holiday break. Camping on someone’s sofa may be an option, but is your host excited that your dog or cat will be staying, too? Reserving a pet friendly hotel gives you a comfortable, quiet space of your own to relax – a respite from the chaos. It may be the best gift you give yourself this holiday season.
2. Manners Matter. Nothing puts a damper on your day faster than knowing that your dog’s behavior is causing tension. If your pup can’t stop digging through the trash, barking, or jumping on the kids, your day will be spent trying to keep him out of trouble rather than enjoying your family and friends! Set your pet up for success – and impress your hosts – by brushing up on his basic obedience skills before you go.
3. Hit the Road. Unfortunately, more vehicles on the roads during the holidays translates into more car accidents. For his safety and yours, it’s important that your pet is properly secured in a carrier, crate, or seat belt harness while you’re driving. Start acclimating your pet to his carrier or harness well before your trip to guarantee the ride goes smoothly.
4. Avoid Spoilage. With all the eating, drinking, and merry-making, pets are often fed things they shouldn’t have during the holidays. Chocolate, raisins, macadamia nuts, alcohol and other foods are dangerous for your dog, and could have you spending your holidays at the emergency veterinarian! It’s safest to avoid any gastrointestinal issues by sticking to your pet’s normal food and treats.
Even when you’re careful, pups sometimes manage to get into things they shouldn’t. In that case, having your pet’s veterinary records with you could be critical to help in the treatment of an illness or injury. Rather than lugging around a large file, make a paper copy of the current vaccination records, and scan the rest for storage on an easy-to-pack USB drive.
5. Lost and Found. It’s terrifying to even think about, but it only takes a split second for a pet to slip his leash or dash out the door and be lost. Remind guests that may not be accustomed to having pets around to be careful when entering and leaving the house, and be sure your pet’s ID tags have a phone number where you can be reached while you’re traveling. It’s also a good idea to have your pet microchipped before your trip, and carry a current photo in the event you need to make posters.
Follow these simple steps, and the trips you take this holiday season with your pets should come off without a hitch!