The holidays are around the corner, and for many people, the holidays mean travel. Traditionally, families come together to share good tidings and cheer at this time of year—entire songs have been dedicated to holiday travel. But, when your family includes four-legged members, holiday travel can be daunting. 

You don’t want to spend the days without your best friend, but the logistics of traveling with her make an already harried season more frantic. To help, we’ve put together these travel tips, which will ease your holiday travels, despite the traffic.

#1: Is travel right for your pet?

Before you schlep your furry friend to Aunt Bertie’s for figgy pudding, consider whether it’s the right thing for your pet. Whether you’re traveling by air, rail, or the open road, travel can be stressful for everyone, and your four-legged family members are no exception. Motion sickness, travel anxiety, and a new environment can be scary for pets, and although the thought of spending the holidays without your pet is painful, sometimes it’s best for pets to stay home. 

If you think your pet really would love to travel, take her, but often your pet would rather not. In these cases, remember to plan ahead—boarding facilities and pet sitters book up quickly for the holidays, so get your pet’s reservations on the books early. 

#2: Check your pet in at our clinic

If you are traveling with your pet this holiday season, call or text us so we can ensure you and your pet are prepared.

  • Depending on your travel mode, your pet may need a health certificate, which only a veterinarian can issue. 
  • Your pet’s vaccinations must be up-to-date before she travels, and she should be fully protected from internal and external parasites (i.e., fleas, ticks, and heartworms). 
  • Proper identification is essential when traveling with pets, and microchipping is the best way to ensure that your pet can always be identified. There’s no time like the present, so get your pet microchipped now, or take a minute to ensure that the contact information associated with your pet’s chip is up-to-date. Microchips work only if your contact information is associated with your pet’s chip number. 
  • If your pet experiences anxiety or motion sickness when traveling, we can recommend solutions.

#3: Ensure your pet is welcome

Plan ahead to ensure your pet is welcome on your holiday travels, not only at your final destination, but also any points along the way. Although some hotels readily welcome four-legged clients, many have strict no-pet policies. Plan your route and book pet-friendly hotels early.  

Also, check with your host that it’s OK to bring your pets when you visit. Like politics and religion, not all families and friends agree about pets, and showing up unannounced with your dog or cat could make your holiday visit awkward. 

#4: Make a pet packing list and check it twice

Don’t forget to pack for your pet. Make a list so you don’t forget anything—from her essentials to comfort items—that should include:

  • Food and water bowls—don’t assume your host will be able to provide dishes for your pet
  • Medications, including prescriptions and parasite preventives
  • Your pet’s bed and blankets to help her be comfortable in a new environment, and to keep your host’s furniture fur-free
  • Your pet’s favorite toys, to keep her engaged and to provide playtime, because bored pets often get themselves into trouble

#5: Travel safely with your pet

When traveling with your pet, ensure she rides safely, regardless of your holiday travel mode. Pets who travel by air or rail will need to be confined in carriers or crates specified by the company, so check with your airline or Amtrak for their regulations on carrier type and size.

If you’re traveling by vehicle, plan accordingly. Unsecured pets can become projectiles in the unfortunate event of an accident, which is a danger not only to your pet, but also to other passengers. Securing your pet’s carrier with a seatbelt is best, but if this is not an option, ensure your pet cannot move around in the car. Various seat belts and harnesses for pets are available, and we’re happy to help you choose. 

The Palm City Animal Medical Center staff wish your family members—both two- and four-legged—a happy and healthy holiday season, and we look forward to seeing you in the new year. If we can help you this season in any way, let us know.