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One of the very few things I hate about traveling is all the packing involved; if you own pets then you have to pack or prepare them for vacation regardless of whether they’re going with you, staying at a boarding facility, or being tended to by a pet sitter. Your vacation can be equally stressful on your pet, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few tips for prepping your pets for vacation and a checklist of items to help you pack for your pet.
I started showing dogs in my early twenties and dog shows are scattered around the country. We traveled at least one weekend per month to a dog show and many of those shows were several states away. The first few travel weekends were rough because I had very little experience traveling with a pet and wasn’t sure how to make our adventures more comfortable for them. I also occasionally forgot much needed items at home, so I had to either purchase them at the dog show or find a pet supply store on the road. Luckily I knew that there was a PetSmart located in most major cities, and they generally stocked anything that I might need. Now I’m much more efficient in packing and preparing our pets for vacation.
We love spending time with our pets and it’s fun to take them with us. If they do go with us, I want them to be comfortable and stress-free. Here are a few questions that you should ask yourself before deciding whether to take your pet.
- Call the hotel/motel/vacation rental to confirm their pet policy. Many online pet policy descriptions are vague. There could be daily fees and/or cleaning fees associated with taking your pet. You don’t want to be surprised by extra fees or even be turned away because of something you didn’t understand in the pet policy.
- Will you have time to properly attend to your pet each day? Pets that aren’t accustomed to traveling may become stressed or anxious if they are in a strange location and they don’t see you for long periods of time.
- Are you visiting a beach or park while traveling? Do they have restrictions for pets? Beaches that do allow dogs often place restrictions on when dogs can visit and still require the use of a leash. It’s always best to double check current park and beach regulations for pets.
If you’ve consider all that I’ve mentioned above and you still plan on taking your pet on vacation, here are a few things that you should pack:
- Collar/harness and a leash. I also suggest bringing an extra in case you lose one or it becomes damaged.
- A pet crate or carrier. Our cats travel in soft sided carriers, but our dogs travel in collapsable metal crates. Our pets are accustomed to occasionally staying in their crates at home, so they provide an additional security.
- Food and water dishes
- Food. You’ll want to bring enough for your trip and several days extra in case your plans are delayed.
- Copies of your pets vaccination record, especially the last rabies vaccination.
- A few toys to help keep them entertained.
- Bedding if they typically use it.
- If you know they won’t chew on it or eat it, I also suggest leaving an old unwashed shirt that you’ve recently worn in the crate with them while you’re away. Anything that has your scent on it might relieve stress.
- Any prescription medications or supplements.
- Waste disposal bags
- A photo of your pet in case they get lost
- The phone number of an emergency veterinarian near where you’re staying
- Lifejacket if you’re going to the beach or lake
- Litterbox and litter if you’re traveling with your cat
If they’re going to a boarding facility you’ll need many of the supplies listed above. The services or supplies offered at each boarding facility can vary slightly, so you’ll want to check with them. It’s easier to pack something that they don’t need than to discover you’ve forgotten something. All boarding facilities also require a kennel cough vaccination and most veterinarians recommend it when traveling.
If you’ve hired a pet sitter or someone is staying at your home to look after your pets, I still suggest “packing” the entire list. They’ll need most of the items on the list to provide day to day care for your pets. It will make it easier for them to location items that they need and make your time away less stressful for your pets. I also advise letting your local veterinarian know that you’ll be away and that someone else is taking care of your pet. You might want to leave a credit card on file and an authorization for them to provide emergency care in case that you can’t be reached.
Whether they’re going with you or staying at home, you need to stock up on supplies before you leave. We head to our local PetSmart to get the items that we need. We have three cats and two dogs so we need more food and cat litter than the typical pet owner, and I’m always looking for a deal.
Throughout the month of June, PetSmart shoppers who spend $40 on select Purina can submit their receipt to receive a $10 PetSmart gift card. Purina has a wide variety of food, litter, and treats available at PetSmart, which can help take the mystery of caring for your pets. Submitting a receipt for redemption is simple. You’ll register your contact information and upload your receipt following the directions on the site, and they’ll mail you a physical gift card within 4-8 weeks. You can redeem for a gift card following each purchase over $40, so you can earn multiple ones throughout the month.
There are close to 1,500 PetSmart locations in the U.S.; if you do forget something you needed for them while you’re on vacation, you’ll probably have at least one store along your traveling route.
How are planning on taking your pets with you on vacation this summer? I’d love to know where you’re headed and how you’re prepping your pets for vacation. I hope you’ll check out the deal available through Purina and stock up on supplies before hitting the road with your pets.