It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it's also the busiest when it comes to travel. As the holidays approach, people are preparing to travel far and wide to spend time with their loved ones. For many of us, our pets are our family and we feel guilty leaving them behind when we go on trips. But there's good news â€“ you don't have to! If you're prepared, traveling with your pet shouldn't be stressful. Below are some tips to consider when making holiday travel arrangements with your four-legged friend:
- Plan Ahead
Whether you're traveling by yourself or with a pet, planning ahead is crucial for any successful trip. Within 10 days of departure, ensure your pet's vaccinations are up-to-date and obtain a health certificate from your veterinarian. Be proactive and book your flights and hotel many weeks in advance. You need to familiarize yourself with the airline and hotel pet policies so you're not left scrambling at the last minute. Before heading off on your journey, use this checklist to ensure you're not missing anything.
- Use Pet Identification
Before you leave, ensure that your pet has the proper identification, meaning that if separated from you, they can be easily identified and returned. Sadly, over 80 percent of unidentified lost pets are never reunited with their owners. Don't let your pet be a statistic; make sure their collar has an ID tag with current information including a cell phone number and the address of where you will be staying.
- Consider Your Pet's Comfort
Whether you're traveling by wheels, water, or air, your pet will need to be comfortably secured during the trek. If possible, avoid having your pet travel in airline cargo, as you won't be able to monitor their safety during the flight. Having your pet next to you in the airline cabin is ideal. When traveling by road, keep your pet in the back seat with a harness attached to a seat buckle; this should reduce possible distractions and secure your pet in the event of an accident. Prepare a pet-friendly travel kit with the essentials and stop frequently for water and bathroom breaks. If you're traveling across borders, bring your pet's rabies vaccination record, just to be safe.
- Know Your Destination
Just as you don't want to be miles from the closest hospital when staying somewhere unfamiliar, your pet doesn't either. Before you leave, research the location you will be staying at and find the nearest veterinary clinic, dog park, and pet friendly businesses. This will make it easier to go places and do activities after you've arrived.
- Never Leave Your Pet Unattended
Hot or cold, the answer is no. Never leave your pet unattended in a parked vehicle as the temperature can rapidly rise or drop, leaving them at great risk. Only leave your pet unattended inside a home or hotel if they're comfortable being left alone and have the necessary supplies.
The holiday season is a time to eat, drink, and be merry with friends and family, not a time to be anxious about your pet. You'll be thankful you followed the tips above when you're happily seated in front of the fireplace, family and friends laughing in the distance, and your four-legged companion lying peacefully by your side.