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Travel plans for the holidays? Don't forget about your pet!

Today, pet parents see their pets as members of the family, and naturally, this means that pets are an important part of any travel plans. Whether this decision involves leaving pets with family and friends, hiring a pet-sitter, boarding them, or bringing them along for the journey, there can be a lot to think about and prepare.

Family or Friends

Leaving pets with family or friends is usually the easiest option. Oftentimes, they already know each other. The best-case scenario is if you are leaving your pets with someone you already live with, as not much needs to change while you are away. It’s important to remind family and friends about any dietary restrictions or medications that your pets may have, and ask them not to feed anything new or different. As always, leave the name and number of your pets’ primary veterinarian and that of a 24/7 emergency veterinarian in case of any unexpected issues that may arise.

Pet-sitter

Not everyone has family or friends who can look after their pets. In recent years, hiring pet-sitters has become easier and easier as multiple different online platforms have sprung up. As there are more pet-sitters to choose from, it’s important to vet their backgrounds and experience before hiring. The following questions are important to keep in mind:

- What is their experience with pets?

- Have they pet-sat before?

- Can they meet your pets’ time commitment needs?

- Do they have any experience caring for pets with your pets’ specific special needs, if there are any?

- Would your pets stay at home or go to another location?

Testimonials from previous clients, veterinarians, and other reputable sources can be reassuring. Also, make sure the company you are going through can answer any questions about what they would do if your pet became injured, lost, or neglected.

Boarding

Pet boarding facilities are also becoming more and more numerous as more and more people travel. There are all kinds of facilities available at different price points, ranging from those that provide the most basic of pet care to more lavish options. It’s most important to look for one that has great reviews and testimonials, a veterinarian on staff, and health requirements for all pets that they accept. The most basic health requirements should include proof of up-to-date vaccinations for Rabies, Distemper, and Parvovirus. Other facilities may also require proof of other vaccinations and parasite prevention.

Boarding facility staff are generally knowledgeable about how to give medications, care for special needs pets, and should have a protocol in place for when pets become injured, lost, or sick.

Traveling with Your Pets

Traveling with pets can be extremely fun and rewarding. However, this also requires the most preparation. Depending on where you are going, preparations may need to start at least half a year ahead of time! Here’s a general guideline on how to prepare your pet to travel:

1. Within your own state: Make sure your accommodations allow pets. Many hotels and airbnbs do allow pets, but most require prior approval and extra costs. Bring any medical records and vaccination proof in case an emergency vet visit is needed.

2. Traveling outside of your state: It’s important to visit the USDA website for requirements: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel

a) State to state: Many states require a Health Certificate issued by a USDA-accredited veterinarian. Most also require proof of vaccinations, especially against Rabies.

3. Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico, or internationally: Not only are a Health Certificate and proof of vaccinations required, but other items may be required, such as having an implanted microchip, passing blood and fecal tests, and proof of parasite prevention. This process can take weeks or even months to complete.

a) visit https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel for requirements.

b) Book a visit with a local USDA-accredited veterinarian to help prepare for the above requirements.>/p>

c) After the above is completed, all test results and the Health Certificate must be brought in person or mailed to an APHIS USDA office for approval.

If you are traveling with anything other than your own car, make sure to check with the transportation company on whether there are any additional requirements. At minimum, there is usually an added fee. Space can be limited, so it’s important to book early.

We hope you have safe and happy travels this holiday season. Do you have any thoughts, questions, or concerns about traveling with your pets? Please feel free to reach out to our team on Facebook, Instagram, e-mail, or in the comments section. Happy holidays!


About the Author:

Debra ChenDr. Debra Chen, D.V.M. has been a practicing companion animal veterinarian for over three years in the San Francisco Bay Area. Prior to moving to the Bay, she received both her veterinary and undergraduate degrees at the University of Minnesota. After spending a third of her life in Taiwan, she is also fluent in Mandarin Chinese. Her veterinary interests include preventative medicine, animal behavior, and surgery. When not practicing medicine, Dr. Chen can be found camping, hiking, eating, or traveling with her husband and Formosan Mountain Dog, Tuna. They also share a home with their two feline overlords, brown tabby cats Cairo and Khaleesi.

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