Vacation time- Traveling with pets or leaving your pet behind?

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Summer is the traditional time for long vacation adventures. Whether spending a week at the beach or leaving the country entirely, vacation time involves a lot of planning. One of the biggest decisions in vacation planning involves your pets.

What will they do while you are on vacation? Depending on where you are going and your pet’s personality, vacation may involve taking your pet with you or leaving them behind. Both decisions require preparation and there are several options available.

Leaving your Pet Behind

If you cannot take your pet with you or if travel is not suitable for your pet’s personality, medical conditions, etc., then you may be better off leaving your pet behind in the care of someone else.

Dogs at a boarding facility running in grass

Options for providing care for your pet while you are gone include leaving your pet with friends or family, arranging for a pet sitter to care for your pet, and leaving your pet at a boarding facility.

Leaving your pet with a friend or family member

Leaving your pet with a friend or family member is a good option as your pet likely knows and is comfortable with that person and it is often less expensive than hiring someone to watch your pet.

Be sure your friend or family member is willing to take on any requirements that your pet has such as medications, exercise, or special diets. Also, take into account the strain on your friend’s household if he or she has other pets.

Leaving your pet with a pet sitter

If your pet does not do well in boarding situations and there is no one that can watch him for you, a pet sitter is a good alternative. Many pet sitters will stay in your house with your pet while you are gone. Others can bring your pet home with them or can just check on your pet several times a day if you are not comfortable with someone staying in your house.

Again, if leaving your pet in the care of a pet sitter, make sure they are aware of all of your pet’s special requirements.

Leaving your pet at a boarding facility

Finally, there are always boarding facilities. Pet Hotels and veterinary boarding facilities offer different services and environments for your pets. At a boarding facility, your pet will get less one-on-one human interaction than with a friend or pet sitter.

However, if your pet is a social animal, there is often more opportunity to interact with other animals. If your pet has a medical condition, it might be a good idea to board him with your veterinarian as they can monitor him and provide treatment if necessary.

Regardless of the boarding facility you choose, be sure to have a good understanding of how your pet will be housed if he will be allowed contact with other pets, vaccine requirements and the level of care provided. Most boarding facilities will happily show you their facilities to alleviate your concerns.

Taking your Pet with You

These days, more and more people want to travel with their pets. As a result of increased demand, many hotels and businesses are becoming pet-friendly in acknowledgment of owner’s attachments to their pets.

Traveling with your dog

If you want to travel with your pet, be sure to do your research to see what is available before you get there. Many hotels have weight or breed restrictions on their pet policies. Most charge an extra fee for allowing your pet to stay. Almost all hotels require that your pet is in a crate when left unsupervised in the room. It is a good idea to check in advance if the hotel requires any special documentation or vaccines for your pet to stay.

Check with a veterinarian at your travel destination to find out if there are any special concerns with an infectious disease such as canine influenza, tick-borne diseases, or leptospirosis that you may want to prepare your pet for by vaccinating ahead of time.

Flying with your pet

If you are flying with your pet, you will need to meet certain requirements. Both for the airline and applicable governmental agencies. Most airlines require proof of at least rabies vaccination and a current health certificate for your pet to board the plane.

Many airlines also have specific requirements for the type of kennel your pet travels in. So, it is a good idea to check with your specific airline to get their exact requirements. Do this at least several weeks before you plan to travel. If you are traveling internationally or to certain states, requirements vary and may involve preparation months ahead of time. So do your homework early, to ensure you have plenty of time to get things done.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a web page devoted to traveling with your pet. Use this site to look up your specific destination to get an idea on requirements to travel there with your pet. You can also consult with your veterinarian to find out what is needed for a health certificate to that destination.

Regardless of where you are traveling, it is always a good idea to carry a copy of your pet’s medical records.

Other Considerations When Traveling With Your Pet

Besides the legal requirements of traveling with your pet, there are other factors to take into consideration when taking your pet along. One of the most common issues is motion sickness. Many pets get upset stomachs from traveling and will suffer nausea and vomiting. This is especially inconvenient in a car or other form of transportation.

If your dog seems anxious or drools a lot on short car trips around town, he may have motion sickness. Your veterinarian can provide medication to help prevent vomiting and nausea.

Does your pet like traveling?

The other common factor owners experience when traveling with their pet is anxiety. Some pets do not adapt well to change and become very upset when traveling. If this is the case with your pet, consult with your veterinarian. Depending on your pet’s specific circumstances, your vet can offer suggestions or prescribe medications that will help keep your pet calm and make his trip as stress-free as possible.

Traveling with pet

Another consideration with stressed pets while traveling is losing your pet. Some pets will bolt at any opportunity when stressed during travel. Be sure to have control of your pet at all times when he is not confined to a kennel. If you are in a car, be sure to leash or kennel your pet before opening the car door.

Make sure your carrier is securely closed when carrying your pet through an airport or other public space. Nothing is worse than losing your pet. However, it is especially distressing when you lose your pet far from home. For this reason, it is also a good idea to microchip your pet. Ensure the associated contact information is up to date before travel.


Our pets are a part of our families, but it isn’t always suitable to include them in every family activity. This doesn’t mean you can’t take a vacation. Just like with other family members, you cannot always spend all of your time together. Sometimes it is a better idea to leave your pet at home or send him to a dog hotel for a spa-like vacation of his own.

That is a better idea than stressing him with scary travel situations and days of boredom alone in a hotel room. If you can take your pet with you, make sure everything is in order so that your pet is able to travel to your destination and enjoy a vacation with you. Vacation is supposed to be a time of enjoyment and relaxation for the entire family.

Planning ahead and doing your research for both you and your pet will ensure it is more fun than worry.

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