You’ve booked time off from work and have picked your holiday destination; now what are you going to do about your pets? Whether your trip is for a weekend, a month, or a year, here are some things to consider when deciding on whether to take your pet with you or not.
Your pet’s temperament and health
As a rule, dogs want to be with their people, but depending on the trip you are taking and the personality of your dog, this isn’t always the best choice.
If your dog is anxious away from you, it may be tempting to take them along, but if your trip will involve leaving them alone in a hotel room or staying in multiple different locations, the stress of adjusting to the new environment may not be worth it for short trips, especially if your dog has separation anxiety or is elderly. Also note that while you may have found pet friendly accommodation, the fine print of these places usually states that the pets are not to be left alone in the hotel or condo and you will need to find an alternative place, such as dog day care, for your pet to stay while you are out for a meal or sight seeing.
Cats do not enjoy change so taking them on trips is usually not a good idea. Unless you are moving or going away for an extended period, hire a pet-sitter to visit your house once or twice a day so that your cat will not have to experience the stress of riding for hours or days in a crate and adjusting to a new, temporary living arrangement.
Pets that are elderly or have chronic medical conditions are least tolerant to stress and change. In these pets carefully consider the types of activities you will be doing during your trip and the length of your trip before deciding to take your pet.
Ask yourself: will my pet be able to participate and enjoy the activities of our holiday or will they need to be left behind often? If your answer is the latter then leave your pet at home.
Talk to your veterinarian; If you are unsure whether it is appropriate for your pet to travel, schedule a visit with your vet to ensure your pet is up to date on necessary vaccinations and in good health before you leave.
If your pet is coming
If you decide it’s best for your pet to come along, make sure you have the supplies to keep them safe and comfortable and familiarize yourself with any pet-related restrictions or requirements set by airlines, destination countries or hotels..
Many countries have special requirements that must be met prior to bringing your pet. Most require at least a current certificate of health. This is issued by your veterinarian after a healthy physical examine.
If you feel your pet may travel better with a sedative on board then definitely plan on scheduling a visit to your veterinarian prior to your trip so you can get the appropriate prescription. Leave yourself enough time to do a trial dose of the sedative prior to the travel date so dose adjustments can be made.
Gravol (dimenhydrinate) is a non prescription medication that can have sedating effects. Its effectiveness, however, is inconsistent. If you are planning on using Gravol, I would recommend calling your veterinarian for the appropriate dose.
Lastly, look into reputable veterinary hospitals near your holiday destination should your pet fall ill during your trip. If you are taking your pet off the grid on an adventure trip then ensure you pack a good first aid kit.
If your pet is staying behind
If you decide your pet should stay home you can arrange for a responsible friend or relative to look after your pet, board your animal at a kennel, or hire a pet sitter.
If you decide to board your pet, get references and personally inspect the kennel. If you are hiring a pet sitter, interview the candidates and check their references. Be sure your pet is microchipped and has a collar and a tag on before you leave your dog or cat anywhere unfamiliar to the animal. A kennel with a large outdoor space to run and play is ideal for a social, young, active dog. A sitter may be preferable if your pet is timid, elderly, afraid of strangers or needs the comfort of familiar surroundings while you are gone.
At Amherst Veterinary Hospital we have a list of local boarding facilities and pet sitters that our clients or staff have had positive experiences with. Feel free to give us a call for the contact information of these facilities.
What to leave for the sitter
If you arrange for someone to care for your pet while you are away, give the caretaker your contact details and your veterinarian’s contact information and your pet’s medical or dietary needs.
Most importantly, instruct the veterinary hospital and your caretaker of your wishes prior to leaving: Do you want to be called before a visit to the veterinary hospital? Does your caretaker have the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf? Who will be covering any veterinary bills while you are away? Arranging this prior to your departure will prevent uncertainties or delays in your pet’s care as the owner listed on your pet’s medical file are the only ones authorized legally to make medical decisions for your pet unless otherwise authorized.
At the end of the day, taking the time to consider your options and to make the appropriate arrangements for your pet will allow everyone to have the best holiday experience possible.
Dr. Loretta Yuen D.V.M