Bringing Your Companion Animals Along for the Season

The world has made another journey around the sun and the winter holidays are almost upon us. For many of us, it’s time to make travel plans that either make room for our pets to stay home or come along for the ride. Whether you’re pets will be making the holiday journey with you or staying home over the holidays, you’ll want to make sure they are safe.

Many pets make holiday trips with their human companions every year. Some fly, some go by train or bus, and many more travel by car to destinations both near and far, sometimes even across the continent. Regardless of where you’re going, here are a few travel tips to help you keep your pets safe.

holiday safety travel tips

Travel Via the Absolute Safest Option

For your pets, the safest, least stressful plan is to remain at home, surrounded by an environment they’re accustomed to. A friend or family member who already has a developed relationship with your pet and who is willing to stay at your home while you are away should be your first choice in a pet sitter.

If that’s not possible, then hiring a professional to stay at your home or at least to come by and feed, walk, and play with your companion animal a few times a day, or boarding your pet at a daycare facility, is still a preferred choice to crating and flying with an animal.

If you choose to go this route, make sure you leave behind detailed instructions regarding feeding and any medications your animal needs, as well as contact info for your veterinarian in case of emergency.

Traveling With Pets by Air

Many animal welfare organizations have come out with public statements that recommend only flying with pets when completely necessary. That said, holiday travel for you might be completely necessary. But, before you fly with your dog or cat, make sure that they are healthy enough to make the journey by getting their current health assessed at your veterinarian’s office.

Make sure that you are completely familiar with your chosen airline’s pet travel policy and how it may impact your pet. If your airline allows smaller pets to travel in the main cabin inside of a carrier, this can be preferable to the stress of flying in the baggage compartment. If your pet is a service animal, you may be able to fly with them in the main cabin regardless of their size and you may not have to keep them in a carrier under the seat in front of you. Make sure to check with your airline for their current animal policy.

Regardless, make sure that you thoroughly exercise your pet before going to the airport. This will help them sleep for at least some of the flight. You might also check with your vet about getting something to help them sleep during the flight, though many animal welfare groups have come out against the use of sedatives on traveling pets. Also, make sure that your contact information is well affixed to your pet’s travel carrier or kennel and their collar.

Traveling With Pets by Car

Traveling by car can be a considerably less stressful option for bringing a pet along on a holiday journey. That said, no one knows your pet as well as you do. Be honest with yourself – do they like really spending time in the car? Or, is bringing them along just going to be a recipe for a stressful, no-fun trip?

If your pet is good in the car, make sure to make them comfortable and restrain them for safety with either a harness or a carrier. Feed them only when the car is not in motion and take plenty of bathroom and exercise breaks for both of your sanity.

Traveling With Pets Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult This Holiday Season

By following some basic guidelines and keeping your companion animal’s emotional and physical well being in mind, you can both arrive at your holiday destination feeling good and ready to enjoy the season’s festivities. Enjoy the holidays with your pets this year, and keep them and yourselves safe!

Author: Giano Panzarella