Holiday Travel and Your Pet

iStock_000004903250_LargeWith holiday travel at its peak the next few weeks, you may be preparing to hit the road in the days ahead. Whether you’re headed over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house or plan to speed down the interstate to meet your in-law’s for the first time, holiday travel can be an adventure in and of itself.

Add in your dog as your co-pilot, however, and the holiday travel adventure just got real. From pit stops to muddy paws, there is a lot to consider when it comes to traveling with pets, especially around the holidays.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

While you may not have much of a choice when it comes to traveling for the holidays, your pet does… Or at least you have a choice when it comes to bringing your four-legged friend.

While the idea of spending the holidays apart from your furry family members may be painful, it can often be the best choice for all involved. Before making the final call, consider the following:

  • Is my final destination pet friendly? (No really, does your grandma really want paw prints on her white carpet?)
  • Are your traveling conditions conducive to traveling with pets? For example, will there be safe opportunities for pit stops? Will there be places to stay with your pet should the weather necessitate an unscheduled stop?
  • Will you be able to spend quality time with your pet once you arrive?
  • Will other family members be bringing their pets? Does everyone get along (animal-wise, we can’t speak for the people side of things)?
  • Will your family understand the ins and outs of pet safety, especially when it comes to escape attempts and pet-safe foods (both in the kitchen and under the tree)?
  • Does your pet have the socialization and manners needed to be a good guest?

Depending on how you (truthfully) answered these questions, it may be best to leave your pet at home (with a pet-sitter, of course), or in the care of a reputable boarding facility.

Holiday Travel Considerations

If you’ve decided that traveling with your pet this holiday is the thing to do, you’ll want to consider a few things…

Expect Delays – If you’re traveling in nasty weather, chances are good that you’ll be stuck in some type of traffic. While these delays can be bad enough for us, consider what you’ll do with your pet in all eventualities. From pit stops and dinner breaks to unexpectedly needing to spend the night at a roadside motel, make sure your pet’s best interests are considered.

Safety First – With so many other travelers on the road, the odds of getting into some sort of accident increase. We recommend securing your pet in your car instead of letting them roam free. If you don’t already have a pet travel restraint system, please call us for recommendations or with any questions you may have.

Papers Please – You’ll want to make sure that you have your pet’s necessary documentation with you while you travel. This includes making sure that your pet’s ID tags are on and up-to-date, your pet’s microchip information is current, and that you have their vaccination records on hand (some hotels will require this at check-in).

Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Unless you’re traveling to the tropics, you need to be prepared to help your pet stay warm while traveling. Be sure to pack a cozy blanket or bed for your pet to curl up on, and pack a sweater or two, just in case. If you think you’ll be stopped for a while (to get dinner, for example), be sure to keep the windows cracked for ventilation, but to bundle your pet up against the frigid temps outside. Likewise, don’t let your host relegate your dog to the outdoors once you’ve arrived. If that’s a likely scenario, let your pet stay home, or bring his or her crate as a safe, in-home alternative.

Best Behavior – While it’s a little too late in the game to enroll your pup in a last minute holiday-socialization course, be sure that you and your dog are ready to be on your best behavior. To facilitate this, let other guests as well as your host know what the rules are regarding your pet (particularly when it comes to food and furniture), and how to address any errant behaviors.

Whether you’re traveling near or far (or staying home), the team at Barton Heights wishes you and yours a safe and happy Christmas. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if we can help make this a reality.