Pets and travel (Part 1): Should they stay or should they go?
Wondering what to do with Fido or Fluffy when you are traveling? This is a huge question and challenge for thousands of families. Our pets are like our family and simply leaving them at home for extended periods of time creates stress both on our furry friends and with us.
Some pet facts:
- There are approximately 78.2 million owned dogs in the United States
- Thirty-nine percent of U.S. households own at least one dog
- Most owners (60 percent) own one dog
- Twenty-eight percent of owners own two dogs
- Twelve percent of owners own three or more dogs
- On average, owners have almost two dogs (1.69)
- On average, dog owners spent $248 on vet visits (vaccine, well visits) annually
- There are approximately 86.4 million owned cats in the United States
- Thirty-three percent of U.S. households own at least one cat
- Fifty-two percent of owners own more than one cat
- On average, owners have two cats (2.2)
Source: American Pet Products Association 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey
With all of these cats and dogs living with us, and with the continued increase of travel, it’s no wonder that knowing what to do while we are away is something that requires careful thought and consideration.
Our family has one cat….Lucas is pretty easy going as it goes with cats. I really think it’s us who worry more what do to with him when we travel. We have had great success with a local pet sitting service. For shorter trips, our pet sitting service stops by the house a couple times in the day, picks up our newspapers, waters plants, feeds the cat, gives him a cuddle and off they go until the next visit. For longer trips, they actually have in-home boarding services where Lucas is picked up (yes picked up in a van!) and stays with another family in their home while we are away. This really has given us peace of mind knowing that he is in good care.
Lucas of course is spoiled to bits while we are away, has a little ‘cat-ittude’ when we come back but finally forgives us and settles in to our normal routine! The great thing in today’s world too is it’s so easy to communicate on what’s happening and to get a little update via email, BBM or texting. A quick note from our pet service really does give us peace of mind while we are away.
Here are some pet tips that you can consider when traveling:
- While some airlines allow for pet travel, unless you really have to, experts advise not to travel with your pet on a flight. There is a lot of stress and anxiety (on you too!) when you try to stuff Fido or Fluffy into one of those little crates.
- Airlines do charge for pets to travel and not all airlines allow Fido or Fluffy on board in the passenger cabin – If you do need to travel on a flight with pets, check directly with your airline on what paperwork is required for proof of vaccinations and what their overall requirements are – some airlines are very specific about the type of travel carrier that you can use.
- Most dogs of course are happy in a car, so if traveling in the car, prepare with a nice blanket, a traveling water bowl, have plenty of food and plan for frequent stops. Any dog owner knows that using the ‘car’ word definitely creates excitement! Remember never to leave your pet in the car during extreme temperatures, though.
- Many hotels today are pet friendly – check out the hotel website, make a call to see what their rules are when arriving with your pet. Check to see if there is an additional cost.
- Find a good neighbor or relative who may be agreeable to coming in to visit with your pet while you are away – seniors and teens are great choices – if you are a real pet lover, you may return the favor to their family! Just make sure that you have everything ready for them, leave a detailed note with your care instructions.
- There has been a recent growth in professional pet sitting services – check your Yellow Pages or Google to see what pet sitting services are in your area. Check to make sure that the service is bonded, speak to other pet owners who use the service that you are looking at. Meet the owner of the pet sitting service and ensure that they understand what your expectations are. This type of service can alleviate a lot of stress on your part and on the part of your furry friend. When using this kind of service, like any ‘hotel,’ book well in advance especially for peak travel during holidays. Many of these services book up quickly.
- Local kennels are an alternative – not my first choice but if this is your only choice, visit the kennel before you go away, check out the facilities, talk to other pet owners to ensure that you know what your pet can expect.
- A few good websites with pet friendly information are below:
At the end of the day, every family has to decide what’s best for their pet. Probably much like your pet in your family though, our Lucas is part of our family – crazy, yes, to those non-pet-owners but we would not have it any other way.
Check back tomorrow for part two in our pet series: Cheryl will tell us a little bit about what has worked well for her when leaving her dog, Joey, at home during her travels.