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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Safe Holiday Travel with Pets: Tips for Deciding to Bring or Not to Bring

Nov 03, 2014 05:35PM ● By Donna Gleason

With the holidays approaching, chances are your plans may involve some form of travel. Determining if you should bring your family pet with you is difficult whether it is an overnight excursion or an extended trip. A good place to start is to take an inventory of your type of travel and then determine where your pet would be happiest. 

Does your dog need routine and consistency?

Some dogs are happiest when life is predictable.  Sometimes pets that need routine and consistency can benefit from staying in familiar surroundings with a trusted pet sitter. According to Derek Dermane, owner of Home Sweet Home - Dog Walking and Pet Sitting, “The best way to prepare a pet to stay at home with a pet care provider is to make sure everyone has ample time to meet beforehand so that a relationship can be developed before the date of the actual trip. In the end, it is all about trust. If a pet is comfortable with their pet care provider, the owner will be able to relax and enjoy their vacation knowing that their pet is in good hands.”

Does my dog have the right amount of energy for the trip we are taking?

Bringing your dog on a vacation where he will be left alone with limited opportunities for physical stimulation may not be the best choice for a high energy pet. Conversely, taking a dog who is a couch potato on a camping/hiking trip through the Appalachian Trail may also not be a good fit.

When planning a vacation, take into consideration the energy level of your dog and if you are going to be able to take care of that need based on your planned itinerary. You might wish to consider boarding your pet. Typically, boarding facilities are either cage-free or have individualized kennels. Get referrals and recommendations and visit the facility prior to making any boarding decisions.

Does your dog have any health issues?

There are multiple questions that need to be considered if traveling with a pet with special needs. Does your dog get car sick on long trips? Does your dog have joint issues that mean traveling for long distances exacerbate his level of pain? Does your dog require certain bedding to alleviate pain? Are you traveling with a senior dog? Sometimes senior dogs may be taking medications that are necessary for their survival. If that is the case, will you or someone else be able to consistently give the needed medications throughout the entire vacation?

Note: Whether your pet is traveling with you or you are leaving your pet at a boarding facility, always have the following documents available: 
• Current copy of your pet’s medical records 
• Medications (including dosages and how administered)
• Proof of vaccinations (including rabies)
• Pre-existing medical conditions

Does the environment where you are staying offer pet-friendly accommodations?

Doing your research beforehand when planning a pet-friendly vacation can be worth its weight in gold. Websites like can help. Here are some questions you can ask the resort or facility to determine if it is right for you:
• Does the facility have restrictions based on the size or breed of the dog?
• What amenities, such as grooming, pet sitting and dog walking, are available to canine travelers?
• What are the rules for being on or off-leash at the property?
• Are there areas in the facility that are not dog friendly?
• Will there be an extra charge for traveling with a pet?

When traveling with your pet make sure identification information is current, including your address and cell phone number rather than a home phone number since you will be traveling. Consider having a microchip put on your dog as a permanent form of identification. Remember to travel with a picture of you and your dog together as added proof of ownership.

When making holiday travel plans, factoring in the type of travel you will be doing and the needs of your dog will make the decision process of where your dog should be staying much easier, and make the holidays more enjoyable for the whole family.


Donna Gleason, owner of TLC Dog Trainer, resides in Sherman. She is a certified professional dog trainer and IAABC-certified dog behavior consultant with a master’s degree in behavior modification. She offers professional in-home dog training and group puppy/basic obedience classes. For more information, call 203-241-4449 or visit