dog laying on its back in a suitcase

Prep Your Pet for Holiday Travel

Part of living an extra-not-ordinary life with your pet is including them in the holiday fun. From family traditions to outdoor adventures, the winter season is filled with opportunities to make special memories with your dog or cat.

Beyond building your bond, traveling with your pet requires some preparation to make sure everything goes smoothly. For example, your pet may need time to get used to their carrier. Additionally, airlines, cruise ships, and hotels have restrictions when it comes to bringing your pet along with you.

On certain airplanes, only small animals that fit into airline-approved carriers are allowed in the cabin. If your pet needs to travel in cargo, you’ll want to make sure they can comfortably sit, turn around, and lie down. Check with your airline to make sure your pet will be able to safely travel.

And if you’re going on a cruise ship, look at the CDC’s website for the latest guidelines. For example, as of November 28, 2022, dogs that are a high risk for rabies are temporarily suspended from importation from specific countries. Before your trip, check these guidelines and your cruise ship’s requirements so your pet is covered.

By following these tips, you can help make sure your dog or cat enjoys every minute of time spent away from home.

Get travel ready

For those traveling by car, take smaller day trips before the holidays so your pet can get used to being in the car and their carrier. This is a great time to plan potty breaks and rest stops so they can burn excess energy while you’re on the road. On the days leading up to your trip, try to keep a consistent routine and continue it when possible after you leave to help your pet feel their best.

Visit the vet

If your pet gets car sick, stock up on anti-nausea medication beforehand at the vet. This is also a good time to make sure their vaccinations, ID tag, and microchip are up to date. If you’re flying, you may also need a signed health certificate so make sure to check guidelines before you go to the vet.

Pack their bags

While you pack for your pet, include all the essentials — food, water, bowls, poop bags, medications, bed, blanket, toys, and calming mix-ins. Beyond the necessities, make sure to have the right car or airplane carriers and restraints so your pet stays safe throughout your travels. If you’re flying, check airline restrictions in advance so you don’t run into any surprises along the way.

Let them decompress

Before you meet friends or family, give your pet time to rest and adjust to their new surroundings. This can include going to a dog park so they can run and play or letting your cat out of their carrier in a safe and enclosed area so they can stretch. Before the celebration starts, set ground rules for your pet (like no feeding from the table) so everyone is on the same page. And don’t forget to make a game plan for other pets beforehand so everyone stays safe.

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