Gone are the days when a vacation meant leaving your furry friends behind with a pet sitter or at a boarding facility. With the increase in pet-friendly accommodations, including resorts, hotels, rental properties, and campgrounds, many more pets are taking their rightful seat on the classic summer road trip.
If your summer plans include cruising with your kitty or hitting the road with Rover, check out Southwest Vet’s top tips for a stress-free stay with your pet.
Check me-owt—ensure your pet wears ID at all times
Travel means a lot of comings and goings, which create plenty of opportunities for curious or frightened pets to slip through an open door or window, and out of their collar. Once free, pets who run off can quickly become disoriented and lost, and turn your vacation dreams into a nightmare.
Avoid cat-astrophe by taking extra precautions, including:
- Ensuring your pet wears visible identification — All traveling pets should wear a collar with current identification tags. Microchipping is also strongly recommended, should your pet’s collar break or fall off.
- Being aware of the exits — Pay special attention to doors and windows while at your destination, and ensure everyone in your party knows not to allow your pet outside.
- Securing your pet — New surroundings can be exciting and overwhelming, meaning your pet won’t always come when called. Keep dogs on a four- to six-foot leash and cats in their carrier at all times, unless they are safely indoors.
Keep your social distance—don’t let your pet harass fellow travelers
Exuberant dogs may want to rush up to every human or pet in their path—but not everyone is pet-friendly. Keep your social butterfly on a leash, and keep a safe distance from other travelers to avoid undesirable consequences, such as dog fights, bites and scratches, or over-the-top greetings (e.g., jumping up on a stranger, knocking someone down).
Similarly, respect the hotel, resort, or campground’s quiet hours, and don’t allow your pet to bark or vocalize excessively. If your pet is anxious in the room, try closing the curtains, turning on the television, and providing them with a long-lasting activity, such as a frozen filled Kong or pet-safe chew toy.
Location, location, location—selecting the best hotel room for pets
Your hotel room location can play a big part in ensuring your pet’s comfort. Call the hotel directly and discuss your options. Depending on your pet’s needs (e.g., mobility, reactivity, frequent elimination breaks) you may wish to request the following:
- Ground floor — If your pet is uncomfortable around other people and pets, request ground floor rooms to avoid needing to take your pet on the elevator or up and down the stairs.
- Elevator proximity — While rooms near the elevator can be convenient, they tend to be more noisy at all hours of the day and night. If your pet is sensitive to sounds, opt for a room away from the elevator or other amenities, such as the pool, gym, or recreation room.
- Pet relief area — If your hotel has a strict policy about where you can walk your dog, request a room close by, so you don’t have to hike a mile before your dog can hike their leg. This also applies to campgrounds and other lodging, so always call and speak to a representative before booking.
Once you arrive in your hotel room, quickly inspect the floor, especially along the baseboards and near the bed, to ensure that housekeeping did not miss any small toxic items, such as dropped medication, batteries, and travel-size toiletries, that could pose a life-threatening risk to your pet.
Leave no trace—clean up after your pet
Always pick up after your pet. Bag your pet’s solid waste and place the bag in the proper bin—never dispose of litter in the toilet or an unlined waste basket. If your pet has an accident, remove as much of the mess as possible—we suggest traveling with an enzymatic pet stain remover—and notify property management. Never attempt to hide your pet’s room damage, which reflects badly on pet owners, and may instigate the property to change their policy.
Finally, a “pet-friendly” room doesn’t mean anything goes. Bring old sheets to keep pet hair off the bed, pack your pet’s dishes for water and food, never groom or bathe your pet in the room, and always leave the room the way you found it before you check out.
Creature comforts—help your pet feel at home
Pets can feel uneasy in new surroundings, so bringing some familiar items for their comfort is essential. By decreasing their stress, you’ll also likely reduce disruptive or damaging behavior, such as vocalizing, chewing, pacing, or digging. You can create your pet’s home-away-from-home with these ideas:
- Pack your pet’s favorite toys and a blanket or bed.
- Use your pet’s crate or carrier as a cozy den.
- Apply calming pheromones to a soft towel or doggy bandana to help your pet feel safe and secure.
- Bringing interactive toys, such as puzzles, snuffle mats, or food-dispensing balls, to encourage physical activity and ensure a restful night.
Many hotels don’t allow unattended pets, and others require that pets be crated during your absence, so always confirm the hotel’s policy, and notify the front desk of your plans and your pet’s arrangements when leaving your pet. Exercise your pet before leaving them in their crate to ensure they will rest while you are away.
Set your course for stress-free travel this summer by making special considerations for your pet. If your destination has specific health requirements (e.g., vaccinations, testing, parasite prevention), or to ensure your pet is fit for adventure, contact Southwest Vet or schedule an appointment for a veterinary check-up.