With the holidays comes holiday travels, especially if you're one of the 18 percent of travelers who take their pets with them on trips. Visiting family and friends this time of year is part of the fun of the season, but in my family, no Christmas morning is complete without my nearly 14-year-old dog poking her head in a gift bag to see what Santa brought. That’s why when we travel, she travels.
I am lucky that my family understands that to love me is to love my dog. That is not always the case. Before you head out for your holiday travels, make sure you have plans in place for your four legged family members.
RSVP for Pets
First, ask your hosts if your pet is welcome. Showing up with your pet without first checking can lead to some awkward situations. Your hosts may be allergic, or may have pets of their own and may feel that adding an unknown pet will upset the balance. Whatever the case, finding out that your pet is not welcome when you show up is a sticky situation. If, for whatever reason, your pet needs to stay home, it’s best to know ahead of time so that you can arrange for holiday boarding (which can fill up quickly) or for a pet sitter.
Packing for Pet Care
When you are packing your bags to go home for the holidays, don’t forget to pack for your pet. Of course, you’ll need to bring food and food bowls, but don’t forget any medications your pet receives. Also, if you’re traveling to a different climate, think about parasite control. Just because you may not use heartworm or flea protection in Massachusetts in the winter (though you should!) doesn’t mean that you won’t need it in the deep South. For added peace of mind, you can protect your pet with Petplan pet insurance (which can be used with any licensed vet in the United States) in advance of your trip.
Hairs to You
A major complaint of all pet owners is pet hair. We’re all tired of cleaning up what seems like an endless supply of dog and cat hair. Imagine how annoying it would be to have to clean up someone else’s pet hair! Do you best to limit shedding hair by brushing your pet often (hopefully outdoors) during your trip. If your host is gracious enough to allow pets on the furniture, consider laying a sheet over couches and beds to pre-empt pet hair buildup.
Make sure your pet is polite at your host’s house. Bring along a crate, exercise pen or baby gate to make sure your pet doesn’t get into trouble. If need be, keep your pet leashed to you so that you can always keep an eye on her.
Most importantly, always, always, always supervise your pet with unknown children. It only takes a second for a rambunctious child to provoke a frightened pet to bite or scratch. This holiday season, keep your entire family welcome and your host’s family safe.