Travel with Pets
(Portions of this piece on travel with pets first appeared on Parade.com)
Did you know that pet parents prefer to travel with pets rather than leave them behind? That’s because nearly eight in 10 pet parents have had to alter or change their holiday travel plans because of their pets. Usually that’s because they aren’t able to get a reliable pet sitter. It’s something I understand.
We’ve had at least one dog in our home since 2002. For a long time, my mother-in-law could keep our pets when we traveled. But as she aged—and then when we moved farther away from her—we had to find alternatives. It came down to either staying put for the holidays or lining up a team of dog walkers and dog sitters.
While we still use that team of dog walkers and dog sitters on occasion, the world has become much more pet-friendly. That means that when we want to, we could travel with pets Oscar and Sadie, our current dogs (and the inspiration behind my pet business Puppieware).
Travel with Pets Holiday Survey
In fact, according to the Wellness Natural Pet Food 2017 Holiday Survey, 75 percent of respondents include their pets in holiday celebrations. This includes traveling with pets, which 22 percent of respondents do. They take their dogs and cats with them to special holiday events.
If this describes your situation during holiday season, you might be figuring out how to best travel with your pet. Or if you’re not part of that 22 percent, you might be figuring out your best pet-sitting options. That’s why I’ve put together these five tips for traveling (or not traveling) with your pet.
But before you leave for any trip with your pet, consider this safety advice from the American Veterinary Medical Association: Make sure your pet has proper identification with your current contact information—particularly a microchip with up-to-date, registered information. The last thing you need at the holidays is having to spend time looking for a lost pet.
1. Booking a Pet Sitter
According to the best time to book a holiday pet sitter is four to six weeks before your holiday travel date. So while it may be too late for this holiday season, this is good to know for future holidays. Or any vacations you might want to take in the future where traveling with pets is not an option–or a choice.
2. Finding a Pet-Friendly Hotel
Let’s say you’ve planned to travel for the holidays, you missed your pet sitter’s window and you don’t want to find a new sitter. Take your pet with you. So many hotels welcome pets these days. Some don’t even charge you extra for a four-legged guest.
Here is a list of pet friendly hotel chains, from New Orleans to Denver and beyond:
If you prefer to stay in bed and breakfasts, you can still travel with your pets. The site Bedandbreakfast.com can point you towards pet friendly B&Bs in its network.
If you’d like to do additional research on best places to stay when you travel with pets, I would recommend heading over to TripAdvisor. I always like to read TripAdvisor reviews before booking any travel.
3. Driving with Dogs
The best way to travel with pets in the car is to treat them like small children. That is, just like with child carseats, the backseat is the safest place for dogs and cats to be.
You should use a harness that can attach to a seatbelt. It is the best way to secure a dog and keep it safe in the car. My dogs always travel with us wearing their seatbelt.
What is the best crate for car travel?
According to the Center for Pet Safety (CPS), you should always secure a smaller dog crate in the backseat with a seatbelt. It helps to keep the pets inside safe in a simulated car crash.
So what is the safest dog crate for the car? CPS gave high marks to the kennel crates made by Gunner Kennels. We found a handful of Gunner Kennels for sale on Amazon.com. Sure, they’re pricey but you can’t put a price on your pet’s safety.
What is the best seatbelt harness for a dog?
There were two manufacturers whose safety harnesses aka doggie seatbelts were crash tested. The CPS certified them to be the safest choices for car travel with dogs. They are
If your dog is a nervous traveler, you can put him in a Thundershirt. Never used a Thundershirt before? It’s similar to a dog coat you might put on your pet. It has Velcro straps and fits snuggly on your pet’s body.
I like to think of the Thundershirt as a piece of clothing that gives your dog a hug. This hug helps the dog feel more secure. I used to put a Thundershirt on my dog Buffy during thunderstorms to help with his shaking. In fact, I’m pretty sure thunderstorms are what inspired the Thundershirt creator to create it.
4. Flying With Your Pet
Every airline has different rules about pets in the cabin. It is usually determined by the animal’s size and if the pet carrier your dog or cat is traveling in can fit beneath the seat in front of you. However, if you are flying with a larger animal, it is the U.S. Department of Agriculture that regulates animals flying in the cargo hold of a plane.
According to Bring Fido, there are two rules that could prevent your dog or cat from boarding the plane with you. First is if the temperature drops below 45 degrees on your day of travel or above 75 degrees. And the second is if you have what’s called a snub-nosed dog. These breeds, which include Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs, could have respiratory problems at high altitudes, especially if you are going to give a vet-approved sedative to your pet.
5. Bringing Along a Crate
If your animal is crate-trained, a crate can be a safe haven in a strange place. It will provide your pet a familiar “place” to sleep at a hotel or family member’s home. Also, if your pet gets over-stimulated with all of the holiday goings on, you can simply give them some quiet crate time.