The holidays are a time to enjoy the company of family and friends, which often requires traveling. Whether it’s down the road or to a different state, a holiday trip to visit loved ones needs some serious planning. And, if you’re like us, you want to include your furry family member in the holiday celebrations, which adds a twist to travel plans. Tackle stressful travel plans with the following list of tips.

#1: Is my pet welcome?

Although your pet is a cherished family member, will she be welcome in someone else’s home? Perhaps you’re visiting a family member whose home is a haven for senior kitties, and your rambunctious Labrador puppy will not be a good fit. Before packing your pet’s bags, ensure your invitation includes her. 

If your pet is welcome to travel with you, consider the housing arrangements there. Will all the commotion and chaos of a holiday gathering create unnecessary stress and anxiety? If your pet is nervous in large groups, check to see if she’ll have a secluded, quiet room to relax in peace during the main event. Although it’s wonderful that your pet will be included in the seasonal festivities, it’s no fun to see her stressed and uncomfortable, so ensure she has a safe place available solely for pets. 

#2: Is my pet medically cleared for the trip?

While it’s difficult to leave behind an older pet, especially one who is not in the best of health, a trip in the middle of winter may not be feasible. Before embarking on a cross-country trip, schedule a wellness visit to ensure your pet can handle an adventure. During her appointment, we will also booster any necessary vaccinations required for traveling, check her health status, and refill chronic prescriptions so your pet doesn’t run out. If needed, we can also prescribe anti-anxiety or anti-nausea medications for traveling. For pets crossing the border into another country or between states, a health certificate is often required. Before your appointment, check your destination’s pet requirements and bring all the requisite paperwork.

#3: Is the route we will be taking pet-friendly?

Not all travel paths are amenable to pets. Some preclude certain breeds or sizes, while others won’t accept any pets. If you’re planning a cross-country road trip or need to stay in a hotel, ensure your pet is also welcome. The final destination may welcome your pet with open arms, but pet-friendly hotels book quickly around the holiday season, so ensure your stay is reserved well in advance. For help planning a hospitable route for your furry friend, use Go Pet Friendly to seek out hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, boarding facilities, and emergency veterinary hospitals along your path.

#4: What are the travel rules for pets?

Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, or automobile, ensure your pet is allowed to travel with you. Each airline, railway, or rental car service has its own regulations regarding pets, size, breeds, paperwork, temperatures, and crates or carriers. Similar to checking what’s allowed in your carry-on luggage, pet restrictions must be planned for. Scope out your travel method’s website to see if pets are allowed and the requirements that must be met before booking nonrefundable tickets.

#5: What does my pet need for traveling?

Easier than forcing your crammed suitcase shut, this checklist will help ensure you don’t forget anything your pet may need for traveling:

  • Food supply, with extra for emergencies
  • Food and water dishes
  • Crate or carrier that your airline or railway accepts
  • Bedding
  • Leash, collar, or harness
  • ID tags
  • Toys
  • Treats
  • Medications
  • Health certificate and/or proof of vaccinations
  • Litter and litter box 
  • Waste bags

Bring your pet’s items from home to help her relax and settle into her new surroundings. Many cats are finicky about their food, litter, and litter box, and may resort to inappropriate elimination when stressed. Also, prevent diet changes to avoid gastrointestinal issues—a pile of diarrhea under the tree is a gift no one wants.

#6: What is my backup plan if my holiday travel plans fall through for my pet?

When traveling with your pet, always prepare for the worst. Your allergic aunt may have changed her holiday plans and will now be attending the holiday gathering, so you have to leave your furry friend behind. Or, your cousin and her gaggle of children will be staying in the same family member’s home, and you know that will be too much stress for your four-legged friend. 

If your holiday travel plans are disrupted, where will your pet stay and who will care for her? Have a list of contacts that can care for your pet, despite a last-minute notice. Add pet sitters, neighbors, or close friends and family to the list. We also provide boarding services to pets in the Southaven, Mississippi, region, so you can schedule a boarding reservation with us if your travel plans fall through. 

If you’re planning on hitting the road, or skies, this holiday season, ensure your furry friend is ready for travel, too. The team here at Elmore Road Veterinary Clinic can fill your pet’s prescriptions, booster her vaccinations, and fill out those pesky health certificates—give us a call.