Travel With Pets: Vacationing with Cats & Dogs
We’re closing in on the summer holiday when travel with pets becomes a reality. I often travel to writers conferences. At the annual Cat Writers’ Conference, actual cats often attended. Some come by car, others fly on plans, and there are pros and cons for travel with pets.
Whether you enjoy vacationing with cats and dogs, travel with pets on business, or go camping with pets, it’s important to gauge how well your individual pets will react. Plan ahead for any pet travel, and you and your pets will be happier.
Air Travel with Pets
Small pets that fit into carriers sized to slide under the seat can travel as carry-on luggage, but there is an added charge and a limit to the numbers that can be in the cabin at one time. Pet owners need up-to-date health certificates, a standard crate (size/details according to the flight restrictions), and it gets pricy.
While my Karma-Kat would qualify for “carry-on,” Shadow would have to travel as “extra baggage” which is safer/different than other shipping. That way he’s in a pressurized area that’s temperature controlled. There are restrictions re: time of year (too hot, too cold, etc).
Traveling by air means you must prepare pets in advance for the trip, to be sure he or she’s comfortable for the length of the flight inside a crate—the hard, molded plastic ones are required for this. You’ll need to crate train your pet, so this is a happy, safe place for him.
Be sure all your contact information is on the carrier AND on the dog. I don’t recommend tranquilizers because that can cause problems at high altitudes with slowed heart rate and respiration, so it’s best if the dog doesn’t get upset about confinement.
Flying with a dog has always required health clearances, additional fees, and certain restrictions. Recently, fees have grown to embarrassing proportions, and requirements vary from carrier to carrier. Some carriers only accept pets as carry-on.
Some breeds like Pit Bulls are not allowed to fly on certain carriers because of the perception of the breed. Others may prohibit “snub-nosed dogs” (which includes Pit Bulls) because of the health risk during warm weather that reaches 70 degrees or more.
Do your homework before planning a trip that includes the dog or cat. Different airlines have different policies. The rules for traveling with service animals (or emotional support animals/ESAs) are different. Here are links to popular carriers, but check for updates before planning your trip.
Car Travel & Vacationing with Pets
Traveling by car? That often offers more convenience for you and the pets, especially if you can take your time. But along the way you may need to stop in a hotel. Not all hotels accept pets, or they may charge extra, so research good options in advance. The Pets Are Welcome website offers a good listing.
Cats don’t tend to be eager travelers. Many cats seem to hate vacations and act out while you’re gone, or when you come home. But many dogs love adventure and most have a wonderful time at hotels. Just be sure your furry companions are good guests, or you could be in for a costly fine. You may love meeting strange dogs when you travel, but other guests could be scared of pets, or allergic to them, so think ahead so your pets are welcomed and polite.
Dogs that make a fuss at home when left alone or suffer separation anxiety probably aren’t good travelers either and may howl if left alone in the hotel room. Most hoteliers prefer your dog be crated when she must be left alone in the room, because kenneling dogs virtually eliminates the chance of room damage, and also reassures the housekeeping folks who may be afraid of dogs. Pets accustomed to crates also feel safer and happier when inside the familiar “den.”
Leave her a legal chew toy, especially something from home that she already loves. Leave on the radio or television to soothe and distract your pet when you can’t be there. That also can muffle noises that might concern a nervous pet. Put a do not disturb sign on the door when pets are left alone in the room to keep housekeeping from entering when you’re not there.
Take a portable or disposable litter box (an aluminum turkey roaster works well), and litter for your cat, and dispose of waste in a sealed plastic bag. Walk your dog in pet-designated areas at hotels before 7 am, to avoid running into other hotel guests who may not care for dogs. Most business travelers have meetings during the day but try to avoid busy lunch and dinner hours when traffic in the hotel increases. Ask about using the service elevator to avoid contact with other guests or pets.
Duplicate the pet’s home bedtime plan. Bring her blanket, bed or crate. If the pet usually sleeps with you, spread a blanket or towels over top of the bedspread to protect from shedding. The sheets should be washed anyway, and if you don’t mind and the dog is clean, snuggle away.
Your turn–do you travel or vacation with your pets? Here’s a post about tips for holiday visits with pets. What about you? Do tell! What tips would you recommend?
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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!