Dog on Road Trip

Vacation season! It’s always an exciting time. Whether it’s a road trip across the country or a plane ride to an exciting new place, vacations are great for spending quality time with the whole family — except, often, our furry family members.

Deciding what to do with your pet on vacation can be a challenge. Whether you take them along with you on your adventures, leave them with a sitter, or check them in for a stay at a pet daycare all depends on your pet. The age of your pet, their disposition, and their needs are all factors that will play into your decision.

Staying at Home

This tends to be the best bet for most pets. If your pet is easily stressed, a change of location and care provider can be a lot for them to handle. Having a trusted sitter either pop in to check on your pet or even stay at your house during the duration of your vacation can help your pet get the care they need while you’re off having fun.

If your pet lives in a cage, they’re probably easy enough to move and care for that you can ask someone to take them off your hands while you’re gone. In this case, consider your pet and who you choose to watch them to make sure it’s a good pair. It’s important to be sure that your pet will feel comfortable in their new environment, as extra stress from loud noises or unwanted visitors can take a toll on little pets. It’s also a good idea to think about your relationship with the person you ask and their own schedule.

If you choose to hire a sitter or take your pet to a friend’s for their own little vacation, be sure to provide a good outline of how to care for your pet. Give their temporary caregiver plenty of information about your pet’s routine and how to address your pet’s specific needs. If your pet is a cat, one or six visits to your home each day should be enough, but even well-trained dogs need at least three to six visits from drop-in sitters.

Make sure your sitter has plenty of supplies and understands feeding schedules, cleaning routines, and temperature requirements. It’s also a great idea to outline any regular walking routes for dogs. With the right planning, your pet can stay just as happy and comfortable as if you had never left.

Pet Hotels

If your pet needs lots of care and you can’t find a good fit for a sitter, professional boarding services are usually the way to go.

Dogs and some cats are usually best suited for kenneling. If your dog is a social butterfly, they will probably do great at a kennel. New sights, smells, and friends will be exciting and fun for your pup. These types will likely quickly adjust to a temporary new schedule, and the worst experience they’ll have will be missing you!

However, dogs don’t always enjoy kenneling. Territorial and protective breeds can get stressed out if they’re away from their homes. If your dog isn’t a fan of other four-legged friends, he or she will be less than thrilled to share a room with them for a long period of time. In this case, you’ll have to decide whether it’s better for your less enthusiastic pets to be kenneled, or if they’d be better off with a sitter. Even if a full-time sitter won’t work for you, a drop-in sitter might be best for these pets if they can be trusted to spend some time alone.

Take Them Along

If your pet is adaptable and easy-going, they might do well on your trip. Think closely about your pet to decide if it’s really best to bring them along. Even though it might be hard to separate from your pet, it’s usually in their best interest for them to stay in a familiar environment. However, some pets do great on vacation with a little extra accommodation for their needs. Plan ahead to ensure the journey is the best it can be for you and your pet.

If the majority of your travel will be in a car when you can stop as needed to care for your pet, you won’t need to work too hard to include them on your vacation. Just be sure to plan some extra time for stops for walks, food, and playtime. It’s also a great idea to think about how much space your pet will need in your vehicle in advance.

If your pet will be flying with you, there may be options for how they travel. Small pets can sometimes fly on your lap, but bigger pets will need to be in a carrier and treated like very special cargo. Keep in mind that flying can be hard on pets, so consider whether travel by air is necessary. There may be breed restrictions for certain pets as well.

It’s also a great idea to plan out your trip itinerary to be sure you account for time for your pet. Check out pet-friendly hotels in the areas you’ll be staying. Consider whether or not you’ll be visiting lots of places where they aren’t allowed and plan for any time where you’ll need to find a safe place for your pet to stay. Think about where you plan to visit on your vacation and if those places will be safe for your pet.

Some places can be a blast for your dog to play around, like campgrounds, beaches, or parks, but be sure to keep your dog leashed in any unfamiliar place, even if you think your dog won’t run away — it’s always better to be safe. This is especially true when you are near any body of water. “Never assume your pet can swim on his own or even develop the skill,” state safety experts at Blue Haven Pools.

Whatever you decide is best for your pet, the most important consideration is their comfort. Pets depend more on routines than people, and they don’t always understand changes in care or environment. Do your best to minimize changes to your pet’s routine while you travel, and you’re one step closer to vacation bliss — for all members of the family!