Everything Animals: Traveling with pets for the holidays - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Everything Animals: Traveling with pets for the holidays

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Traveling with pets can be stressful and a hassle. Make this holiday season's travels easier with these tips on traveling.

Dr. Liam Bisson from the Shelburne Veterinary Hospital recommends doing a rehearsal with pets before going on long car or plane rides. He also suggests using seatbelts to keep pets seated during long car rides. Bisson also shares when it is appropriate to bring a pet on a trip and when it is best to leave a pet at home.

In addition to Dr. Bisson's recommendations the Vermont Veterinarian Medical Association shares these tips to pet travel.

Pet Care Options When You Travel

Take them along

            Think through your travel plans thoroughly.   Does the hotel allow pets? Is there a charge?  What are your plans for Fido or Fluffy when you're off at the water park?  Does the campground where you're staying require proof of vaccination (many do)?  If you're going to visit family/friends with pets, does/will your pet get along with them?  Think through the repercussions of putting an animal that has never traveled before into a carrier for 5-10 hour drives. In general, cats dislike travel and change and are much happier at home with a pet sitter checking on them. Some animals become so distressed riding in the car or plane they require a sedative. Talk to your veterinarian if you are unsure. 

The following checklist can help you if you do decide to travel with your pet:

Pet carrier with a soft blanket (one from home with a familiar scent is best)


Collar and identification tags with correct information taped or etched on the back.

Water and food dishes

Pet's usual food (changing food brands suddenly can lead to digestive upset)


Medical records for pets with chronic conditions

Vaccination records for boarding

Interactive toys to ward off boredom

A recent photo in case the pet becomes lost

Local emergency veterinary hospital phone number and address

When traveling with your pet, be prepared to stop every couple of hours for a brief walk and chance to eliminate. Always keep your pet on a leash.


When pets must stay behind, you must choose between boarding and hiring a pet sitter. Boarding kennels can be stressful if your pet is not used to them, especially older pets and cats.  Boarding facilities typically require updated vaccinations (and medical records for pets with health concerns). If you choose to board your pet, find out in advance which vaccinations are required and check with your veterinarian to make sure that your pet has received them well in advance of boarding. Many boarding facilities now have large outdoor playgrounds for dogs and they have a great time. 

Pet Sitters

A pet sitter is a good alternative as some pets (such as elderly pets and cats) are much more comfortable in home surroundings.  If you choose to have a pet sitter, he or she will need to keep your pet's schedule on track, provide daily exercise and companionship, and have permission to seek medical treatment.  A live-in sitter is best, but as long as your pet is tended to at least twice a day, it should be sufficient.  The pet sitter should be experienced in animal care and should be aware of any previous health problems and know the signs of ill health. This is especially true if you have an elderly pet with a medical condition-- what are your wishes if your pet gets sick? Is there a limit to the amount of medical care you want in place?  Make sure you discuss this with the boarding facility, pet sitter, or your veterinarian. 

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