Pets and holiday trips: Take ’em or leave ’em?

11/17/2012 7:52 AM

11/17/2012 7:53 AM

Though Grandma may welcome the kids with open arms as families travel for holiday visits, bringing along the family pet may elicit a different response.

So what do you do when your canine buddy or feline pal can’t join in the holiday fun? Here are some options:

Boarding

Boarding is particularly popular among dog owners, but pet lovers say to book early as slots in kennels and veterinarians’ offices fill up early.

Many companies require boarding candidates to visit in advance to determine their compatibility in a canine group environment. Quality facilities also require proof of vaccines.

Boarding needs of a dog are different from those of a cat.

Professional pet sitters

Pet sitters can be found through mutual friends or on websites.

“I have a longtime pet sitter I’ve worked with for many years,” said Laura Mason, the owner of an American tabby and a border collie.

“She’ll come by once daily — or twice for a slight additional charge, if I request — to make sure my animals have proper food and water,” Mason said. “She’ll take the dog for a walk, clean the cat’s litter box and spend quality time with them. It works well for me and my two pets because I know they’re safe at home and they’re happy not having to be in a completely different environment.”

Friends

A good friend who gets along well with a pet may be the most economical option. There are multiple bonuses: You know the person, and the pet knows the individual. Just make sure the friend is aware of where the food is kept, how much the pet eats and drinks daily, and whom to call in the event of an emergency.

Taking them with you

If you do take Fido and are traveling by plane, talk with the airline about charges and potential hazards during transport. Air flight can be potentially traumatizing, and many airlines require sedation for the pet.

If you’re driving, it can be fun, or a nightmare, pet owners said. Cats generally don’t enjoy car rides, unless socialized from youth. If you’re traveling in a car with an older, inexperienced cat, keep the cat safe in a kennel. Don’t forget to bring a small portable litter box.

Generally, dogs see road trips as a fun outing.

“I always make sure I bring along doggie treats, chew toys and a pallet,” dog owner Stuart Krauss said. “Sometimes soothing music can add to the experience. I’ve found it helps keep my dog calm. The important thing is to try and make them feel as much at home as possible, even though they’re not.”

Another important consideration is if you’re planning any overnight stays at a hotel.

Visit www.officialpethotels.com for a list of pet-friendly places you can rest alongside your four-legged friend.

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