Tips for Safe Holiday Pet Travel

Holidays mean family travel—that often includes family pets. Here’s a look at our top tips for making sure you have yourself a merry little trip.

Book early and check it twice

With hotels in peak season during the holidays, be sure to make those plans early and confirm everything before you hit the road. Book your hotel directly and note the name of the person you spoke with in case of any mix-ups. Also, avoid check-in surprises by describing the size and breed of your pet.

Visit Your Vet

If you’re traveling out of state by car or flying anywhere with your pet, don’t forget to visit your veterinarian to obtain a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI). Finally, be sure to ask for a copy of your dog or cat’s immunization records to carry along.

Plan for the Unplanned

Although hopefully, you won’t need an emergency veterinarian on the road, a quick online search can help you compile a list not only of veterinarians but also of boarding facilities at your destination in case you become ill and need help. Packing a simple pet first aid kit can also help with minor issues along the way. Pack everything you think your pet will need—medications, food, treats, a crate or carrier, toys, litter box, puppy pads, an extra leash, an ID tag, and more should all be on your list.

Be prepared for accidents

It’s not a matter of being naughty or nice—potty accidents just happen, and they happen more frequently on the road. Be a good hotel or houseguest with a bag of emergency supplies: a roll of paper towels, a bottle of urine remover, and plenty of waste bags. It helps to build in extra potty and walk stops. Always clean up after your dog, even in parking lots.

Pack the scent of home

While it’s fun to give your pet a new toy or bed for the holidays, they’ll appreciate the comforting scent of home from his favorite bed, toy, or blanket.

© iStock Photo / JodiJacobson

Photo: JodiJacobson/iStock

Place an extra ID tag on your pet

ID tags are especially important when traveling; consider a second tag with your cell number or, if you’ll be at a relative’s home for a few days, their local address and phone number. A GPS tracker worn on your on pet’s collar can also provide extra peace of mind since you can track your pet on your smartphone if they get lost.

Buckle up

Icy roads and holiday traffic make it extra important to secure your cat in a carrier or your dog in a seat belt, booster seat, or crate. A safe dog travel study by Kurgo and AAA found that only 16 percent of dog lovers are restraining their pets in the car. Not only will pet safety systems keep you from becoming distracted by a pet climbing into the front seat, they’ll also protect your pet and passengers in the event of an accident.

Designate a pet watchdog

In the excitement of a holiday family gathering, it’s easy to lose track of your pet. Make one member in your family responsible so there’s no confusion.

Beware of decorations

For all the beauty of holiday decorations, they can be hazardous to your pet. Although your dog may not tamper with your home decorations, the excitement of a new destination may make that string of lights or dangling ornament way too tempting.

Watch out for holiday foods

Especially if your holidays will be spent visiting family, keep an eye out for holiday goodies that spell trouble including chocolate, raisins, grapes, and liquor.

Holiday travel can be a great way to build treasured memories with your pet. With just a few easy preparations, you can make sure this is the best time of the year!

For additional tips and resources on traveling with your pet, be sure to check out All the information you’ll want or need when traveling the US and Canada with your pet, you’ll find there.

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