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Vacationing with your pets

Vacationing with your pet can be fun, but there are many things to consider before taking a trip.  When planning your vacation, it will be necessary to decide on your pet's care and whether to take him/her along or leave him/her behind.  Your pet's personality and the length and distance of the trip are important considerations in making this decision.

Leaving your pet behind is sometimes the best option.  Boarding in a kennel or hiring a pet sitter (one who either comes to your house or keeps the pets at their home) are options if you decide to vacation without your pet.  In either case, here are some general tips:

  • Ask your veterinarian or other pet owners for recommendations of reputable boarding facilities or pet sitters.
  • If boarding, visit the facility to meet the people and to check the safety and cleanliness of the operation.  If hiring a pet sitter, meet the sitter in your home to see how he/she and your pet interact.
  • Make reservations well in advance of your trip.  Many facilities book/fill up early, especially over holiday periods.
  • Be sure your pet is current on all vaccinations that may be required. 
  • If your pet is on medication, be sure to leave an ample supply with clear, complete instructions.
  • Leave explicit instructions on feeding and a supply of your pet's regular food.  If leaving your pet with a sitter, discuss your pet's exercise routine.
  • Be sure your pet wears a collar with identification tags.  Cats should have special safety collars. You may want to consider a more permanent identification such as micro chipping your pet.
  • Leave information on your veterinarian, including emergency numbers and where you will be staying.  Also contact your veterinarian to inform them someone else will be taking care of your pet and to give consent for treatments if needed. You may also provide your veterinarian, boarding facility or pet sitter with a written permission note for treatment.
  • Be sure to leave a number where you can be reached.

If you decide to take your pet along with you, there are other things to consider:

  • Call ahead to be sure your pet will be welcome at the hotels, motels, homes or parks where you will be staying.
  • Be sure your pet has all required vaccinations and a current health certificate.  Your veterinarian can supply vaccine history.  Take along medical records in case of an emergency.
  • Take along your pet's regular food, any special medications, a supply of water and, if space is available, his bedding and favorite toy(s).
  • Be sure your pet has a collar with an identification tag with your name and telephone number (include the area code).  A photo of your pet is important in case he or she is lost while vacationing.  Keep your pet confined in a crate or on a leash at all times.
  • If traveling in a vehicle with your pet, it is safest for both of you to keep him or her confined to a carrier or crate.  Never let your pet ride in the back of a truck or with his/her head out of the window of the vehicle.