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Can I Take My Pet On Vacation With Me?

Published on: July 20, 2022  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

french bulldog in a kayakPets are an important part of our lives. According to the ASCPA, somewhere between 37%-47% of American households have a dog, and 30%-37% have a cat. That’s millions of pets. As pets have become an integral part of the family rather than simply working animals whose role is to eliminate rodents or protect and herd livestock, it’s only natural we want to take our pets on vacation with us. Why leave part of the family home when you’re taking a family vacation?

Your cat may enjoy your vacation more if you leave him or her behind. Most cats prefer consistency and familiarity with their surroundings. Change can make then nervous or resentful. Dogs on the other hand, are all about adventure. And they definitely want to be wherever you are. Taking a vacation with you is nothing more than an extended ride in the car, right? But if your vacation involves flying to your destination, things will be more complicated.

Consider your pet’s breed & health.

If you have a snub-nosed or brachycephalic breed of cat or dog (think Pug, Bulldog, Pekingese, Himalayan), travel can be more stressful and risky than other breeds. This is especially true if you're vacationing to or from a place that is very hot. It might not be worth the risk for a short trip when flying is involved. However, if you're driving and can provide plenty of rest stops and a climate-controlled vehicle, then it could be okay.

If your dog or cat is considered a senior pet or has any chronic health conditions, traveling with you on vacation may not be a great idea. Talk to your vet about this, because each animal is different.

Consider your pet’s safety.

If you’re taking a road trip, your cat or dog is precious cargo. Make sure they have a carrier that is roomy, and secure it on the seat or in the back of your car. Or use a barrier or seat-belt type harness for your dog. If you’re traveling by air, you’ll need an airline-approved travel kennel that meets IATA guidelines.

Where are you headed? Your pet may need extra protection against ticks, fleas or other diseases. If you’re going to another state, you should carry a copy of your pet’s rabies certificate and a domestic health certificate signed by your vet. If you’re going out of the country on vacation, you will need considerably more paperwork, which will depend on the destination country and airline you're using. 

Consider the length of your trip.

If your vacation is a short one, perhaps it would be easier on your pet to simply leave them home, with a trusted friend or family member or at a highly rated boarding facility. Conversely, if your itinerary involves complex flight arrangements, ask yourself whether the added stress of getting there and back would be worth it for both of you.

Consider your time commitment.

If you’re vacationing to visit friends and plan on packing your days with tons of fun activities, will you have enough time to devote to your furry companion? Taking your pet just to ignore them once you arrive can add to the stress of being in a new place. If they're bored, they might act out in ways no one will appreciate and that could ruin everyone's vacation (including theirs).

Consider your destination.

If you plan to stay with family or friends, or spend considerable time with them, do they have pets of their own? How will their animals respond to your dog or cat? How will your own pet react to being the stranger in their home?

If you’re going from a quiet neighborhood to a busy, noisy urban setting or other potentially frightening environment, will your pet be able to handle the change without becoming overly anxious? Is the weather likely to be significantly hotter or colder than what your dog or cat is used to?

You'll also need to consider your destination's pet import requirements. If you're planning a vacation to a country that requires animal quarantine (like Singapore, Australia or New Zealand), that won't be much of a vacation for your pet. Not to mention, the health preparation and paperwork takes months to complete.

Make their vacation more comfortable, with a touch of home.

If your vacation will be ideal for you to bring your pet, you'll want to ensure they are comfortable and happy throughout their trip. The best way to keep your pet relaxed and confident on your vacation is to take along a few of their own belongings. When they have their own bedding, dish, food, toys and treats, they’ll know you’re on vacation together. And isn’t that what you had in mind in the first place?

Starwood Animal Transport has rebranded to Starwood Pet Travel. We are still the same great company with the best team, just now with a slightly different name.