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Pets and Vacation Planning: Should They Stay or Should They Go?

Dog with sunglasses and Hawaiian shirt sitting on beach

Most animals will enjoy a family vacation, but a small percentage are not cut out for traveling. Before packing a bag for your pet, consider carefully whether it’s a good idea. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian.

You probably should leave your pet at home if …

It is very young or old, pregnant, sick, injured, prone to biting or excessive vocalizing, can’t follow basic obedience commands or can’t actively participate in the trip. Take into account the type of vacation and activities you have planned. No pet is going to be happy or safe cooped up in a car or hotel room.

If your pet is taking the trip …

Understand an accommodation’s policies before making reservations. Always specify the type of pet you have. Birds, hamsters, pigs, ferrets, lizards and other exotic creatures are not always accepted as readily as dogs and cats.

Check municipalities and states for any breed-specific regulations.

If your pet will stay home …

Make sure they are in good hands. Family, friends and neighbors make good sitters (provided they’re willing). Never leave your pet with someone you don’t trust. Professional pet sitters offer a range of services, from feeding and walking your pet daily to full-time house sitting. Interview several candidates, and always check credentials and references.

Have your pet’s favorite toys on hand so they have fun things to do while you’re gone.
Provide instructions for feeding, exercise and medication, as well as phone numbers for your destination, veterinarian and local animal emergency clinic.

If your pet needs a place to stay …

Kennels board many animals simultaneously and generally are run by professionals who will provide food and exercise according to your instructions. Pets usually are kept in a run (dogs) or cage (cats and small dogs) and may not get the same level of human interaction as at home. Some veterinary clinics board pets and may be the best choice if yours is sick, injured or needs special medical care.

Veterinarians, pet owners and professional associations are good referral sources.

AAA members save on pet insurance with Healthy Paws. Find out more.

Have you taken your pets on vacation? Tell us about it in the comments.

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