There can be a lot to think about when traveling for the holidays, especially if this is the first year for your pet. For those who fly, drive or leave their pets with a boarder or another dog-friendly home, here are a few to-do lists to help simplify your plans:

Air Travel Rules

While this past year has seen stricter rules for pet travel, especially related to companion animals within the cabin, the good news is there’s still plenty of ways to fly with your pet.

Every airline has their own specific rules and fees for flying with pets (those not designated as service animals), so it’s best to also check with your airline of choice. Overall though, it’s common for airlines to add an extra fee for your pet, and restrict animals traveling within the cabin to pets that can fit in a carrier under the seat in front of you. Some airlines or destinations require vaccine records or certificates verifying a recent veterinarian checkup.

One pro tip for flying this way is to book early. Airlines do have a limit to how many animals they allow each flight, and if they’ve reached the max you may have to choose other travel plans.

It’s important to note that all airlines view service animals and comfort animals differently. Service animals are always allowed without charge, by law, although airlines do ask for documentation of need. Comfort animals, however, are more strictly scrutinized, and depending on your airline and type of pet, you may notice more red tape to get them approved. 

Road Trip Tips

Of course our biggest advice here is to make sure you’ve found adequate pet-friendly lodging, and local veterinarians in case of emergency. There are websites available to help you search for pet-friendly places while traveling.

After finding your perfect sleeping spot, be sure to check out pet-friendly places to visit along the way! After a long car ride, it’s not uncommon for people to feel cramped and in need of some leg-stretching, and your pet can feel the same way.

If your pet is not used to car rides, experts recommend taking practice drives with them before a long road trip. Get them used to the car, and new smells it brings, by starting with a short ride and extending to longer and longer ones. This can also help you know how your pet will deal with a car ride so you can prepare accordingly. You can also talk to your veterinarian about things like car sickness or other problems your pet may have, or ask about vaccines they might need if you’re traveling to a new location.

Boarding or Pet Playdates

We know that not everyone is not able to travel with their pet. If you are leaving your pet at a boarder, or taking them to a friend who has other pets around, it’s important to make sure every pet involved has updated vaccines. 

Many boarders now require vaccines beyond the “core vaccines,” so if you are going that route, talk to a veterinarian about what’s recommended. Diseases like bordetella and dog flu are both easily spread from dog to dog, but can also easily be avoided with proper preventive care.We offer several vaccine packages, so you can choose the best fit for your pet.

If you have any questions about traveling with your pets, or vaccines and health certifications they may need, feel free to talk to an Essentials PetCare veterinarian for more information.