Christmas Travel and Pets

Dec 1, 2012

Travels with Sebastian
Credit Susan Katherine Rits

If you're traveling during the holidays, one of the first decisions is what to do with your pet.  You can take it with you, board it, or have someone come to your home to care for it.  Once you decide what's best for you and your best friend, you can relax knowing both of you will have a good holiday.


This Christmas season, many pet owners will be flying or driving to visit family and friends. And since they think of their pets as part of the family it may seem only natural that their best friend should go along. If you’re planning to travel with your pet during the holiday, there are some things you can do to help make it a safe and pleasant journey for both of you.

Start with a trip to the veterinarian. Airlines and many overnight accommodations that allow pets may require proof that your pet is healthy, free of parasites and up-to-date on vaccinations.

If you’re traveling by car, plan the trip so that you have time to stop every few hours to offer food and water. For dogs, they may need to relieve themselves. If so, make sure you clean up after your pet so that those who follow you will also be welcome.

When you finally arrive at your destination, check around to make sure the place is pet-proof. Your host may not object to letting your best friend have the run of the house, but it’s up to you to make sure your pet won’t get into anything that will harm it, such as poisonous plants – also anything that will be damaged, such as a Christmas tree that might be toppled by a dog running underneath or a cat climbing it.

Traveling with a pet can be stressful for both animal and human. If you decide instead to leave your best friend behind, boarding is a popular option – but good kennels and veterinary offices can fill up quickly during the holidays. Call early to book a spot so you won’t be stressed about not having a place to leave your furry buddy.

You may prefer to have your animal companion stay home. There are professional pet sitters that will come by one or more times a day to take care of your pet. Look online for someone in your area, or talk to fellow pet owners to see who they use. I am extremely fortunate to have a great friend who will look after my pets when I’m away. In return, I do the same for her. I have peace of mind knowing my animals are safe and happy at home.

By planning ahead and taking a few precautions, you and your best friend can have a happy and memorable Christmas season, when you’re speaking of pets.