10 min read

Pet Expert's Guide to Holiday Travel

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Overview

If you are planning on traveling during the holidays, you want to make sure you know how to safely head home during the COVID variant season. If your pup's coming along for the fun, you probably want the whole process to be as stress-free as possible. We did your research for you and asked the experts for their biggest tips and advice on how to enjoy safe and fun travel, and, of course, how to fit your pets into the equation. Read on to hear what they said!

man and light haired dog looking at each other - planning a trip during the holidays

Q: What are your biggest tips for traveling during the holiday season?

dog is sticking his head out the window - take plenty of pit stops when travelling with your pets!

"Plan for Pit Stops" - Dr. Linda Simon, MRCVS, MVB

A: When travelling with your pets, be sure to take plenty of pit stops. Every hour or so, your dog would appreciate the chance to stretch their legs, empty their bladder and have a drink or snack.

If your pet is prone to travel sickness, ask your vet for some anti-nausea medicine before you head off. It can help to travel on an empty stomach. If the journey is long and your pet will need to eat, offer small and bland meals of things like boiled chicken and rice.

If transporting festive food, keep it well out of reach of your furry friends. The aroma of turkey, gravy or baked goods coming from the boot may be too much for them to resist!

Related articles: Can I Give My Dog Human Travel Sickness Tablets?Traveling With Your Pet: What You Should Know

By Dr. Linda Simon, MRCVS, MVB, Member of Wag!'s licensed veterinarian team


"Keep The Pups Calm" - Matson from Rocco & Roxie

A: When Morgan takes Roxie on flights or even in the car in her carrier bag, he brings a small blanket to put over the windows because it helps to calm her down when it is dark and she can’t see that she is in a strange place. This is good for pets that have anxiety about traveling.

Rocco love a road trip! He is excited anytime he can go for a ride in the car, but when we go on a trip, I put his bed in the back seat and he just calmly snoozes all the way there. Rocco’s bladder is apparently bigger than mine, but whenever I stop for my own potty breaks, I let Rocco and to go too. We use these stops to fill his water bowel and let him drink his fill. Then he is good to get back on the road. 

By Matson, Co-founder of Rocco & Roxie


"Don't Stress Them Out" - Taryn L. Nahm from PetWinery

A: Don't stress when you've got your pets! When you get to your destination, relax with a glass of wine and open up a bottle of Pet Wine for your furbabies, too! Cheers to the holidays!

By Taryn L. Nahm, Co-founder/CEO of PetWinery.com


calling the veterinarian on the phone - prepare a pet safety plan when traveling during the holidays!

"Prepare for Emergencies. Make a Pet Safety Plan" - Jason from Pooch Selfie

A: Always prepare a pet safety plan when traveling during the holidays. Research where animal hospitals are along the way of your travel and at your destination. This way if an emergency does arise, you know exactly where to go for the best care for your pet rather than frantically trying to find these details if an accident occurs. 

By Jason from Pooch Selfie


Embrace Pet Insurance

"Do Your Research Before the Trip" - Dr. Jacqueline Brister from Embrace Pet Insurance

APlan Ahead

  • Get contact information to the closest emergency vet to where you’re staying
  • Fill any prescriptions before you go
  • Pack plenty of food, water, and an emergency kit 
  • Consider having your pet microchipped. If he is already microchipped, make sure his information is up to date
  • Discuss the need for interstate or international health certificates with your veterinarian WELL IN ADVANCE OF YOUR TRAVEL DATE. Regulations differ from state-to-state and country-to-country. International health certificate requirements can take up to 6 months to complete, so it is very important that you begin the process early
  • If your pet hasn’t ridden in the car much, take lots of practice rides that include treats and praise. That way, when the day to travel comes, your pet won’t be as nervous or stressed
  • If your dog or cat is already prone to travel anxiety or motion sickness, discuss with your veterinarian before traveling. Anxiety medications, supplements for nausea, and stress-reducing pheromones may be useful. If your pet is prescribed a new medication, consider a trial dosage and a short trip around town before the actual travel date
  • If traveling by plane, discuss requirements for pet travel with the airline including airline-specific regulations, special paperwork (e.g. health certificates), where the pet will be kept during the flight, how to get through the airport with your pet, type of carrier, and what kind of care the pet will receive during travel


Before and During the Trip

  • Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with your information on it as well as current Rabies immunization tags.
  • During your travels, be sure to secure your pet in the car with a crate, carrier, or travel harness.  Keep their collar on for the ride and have a leash readily available in case you need to stop.
  • Remember to take regular bathroom breaks and provide opportunities to stretch the pet’s legs for long trips.
By Dr. Jacqueline Brister, Veterinary Consultant for Embrace Pet Insurance


"Prioritize Comfort" - Daniel from Babysits

A: Traveling with the family can be full of uncertainty during the holiday season, kids and pets can add some extra variables. Some tips to remove the holiday travel uncertainty:

  • Plan your travel around bathroom breaks, snack time, and time to get fresh air (these are important for all family members; adults, kids, and 4 legged friends alike). 
  • Bring along something comforting for each family member. This could be a book for a parent, stuffed animal or security blanket for a child, or favorite toy for a dog. This is helpful for taking their mind off of and dealing with the stress and emotion of travel itself (or any unexpected delays or changes in plan).
By Daniel from Babysits.com


"Plan Ahead for Plane Rides" - Karley from OC Pom Rescue

A: Here are tips for traveling by plane:

Holiday travel can often be a headache, especially now during the COVID pandemic. Taking our furry friends with us on trips can add to this stress, especially when you haven't done it before, or if your dog tends to get anxious during travel. But there are so many measures you can put in place to make the trip go smoothly and make it a great experience for everyone. Whether you're taking a road trip or hopping on a plane, here are some tips to successfully travel with your dogs for the holidays (and beyond).

TRAVELING BY PLANE

  • Just like you need to desensitize your dog to the car and car seat, get him/her used to a travel carrier! Leave the carrier open at home and let them explore it; throw some treats and toys in there. Gently put them in it, then build to transporting them in it (in your car, on walks, etc). Always praise them before, during and after. 
  • Make sure your travel carrier has a cushioned lining on the bottom and that it's big enough for them to move around, but small enough to fit airline requirements. Here are some travel carriers we like!

                  -Sherpa - a classic and popular option with maximum space
                  -PetAmi - a functional option with extra pockets/storage

  • After you've checked in and are headed to your gate, look for the service dog relief area; every airport has a patch for dogs to relieve themselves. Take them there right before you board your flight to give them a final opportunity to go.
  • Walk them around if you have time so you can get their energy out!
  • If you have a long flight or layover, bring a bully stick/bone or puzzle toy to keep them busy and occupied. 
  • If your dog is an ESA or service dog, seat them on your lap and wrap them with their own blanket; it'll keep them warm during the flight and help them feel bundled and safe.
  • Make sure you're prepared and don't leave anything at home! Here's our checklist of items to pack for doggy travel. For things like food, wipes, poop bags, etc, make sure you have a proper count for the duration of your trip.


Travel Checklist

  • Dog food and any supplements you add to their meals
  • Dog treats (including bully sticks/bones/etc to occupy them)
  • Dog toys and blankets
  • Benadryl and/or prescription motion sickness medication
  • Any routine medicine that's scheduled to take during the trip (flea/tick, heartworm, heart meds, seizure meds, etc)
  • For benadryl or other medication: individual peanut butter packets (plus a ziploc/clips) and pill pockets 
  • For upset stomachs: pumpkin puree packets, probiotic pills, a premade and freeze dried chicken and rice pouch you just add water to (we love this one from Grandma Lucy’s!)
  • Food and water bowls, preferably collapsible travel bowls
  • An empty water bottle for on-the-go hydration
  • Poop bags
  • Belly bands/female diapers
  • Grooming wipes
  • Mini shampoo/conditioner/conditioning spray kit
  • Brush & comb
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Paw balm for winter travel
  • Sweaters, vests, jackets, booties, etc.
  • Pet/ESA/Service Dog paperwork, including medical records and waivers
  • A bed or mat if you're traveling by car or able to bring it in your suitcase

Make sure you have the following accessible in your carrier: paperwork, toys, blanket, bone, treats, water bottle, wipes, Benadryl, probiotics, pumpkin, pill pockets, peanut butter, belly band/diaper.

By Karley, Director of Marketing at OC Pom Rescue


K9 Sports Rack's pop-up dog tent

"Bring a Travel Carrier" - Cooper from K9 Sports Rack

A: This holiday season, make traveling a breeze with K9 Sport Sack backpack dog carriers and pop-up dog tents. These paw-some carriers allow you to stay hands-free, keep your dog away from busy crowds, and not worry about where your dog is when on the go. The K9 Kennel dog tent is collapsable making traveling with dogs that are kennel-trained a breeze!

By Cooper from K9 Sports Rack


"Prepare Your Pup Ahead of Time" - Steph from DJANGO

A: If you’re traveling with your dog during the holiday season, here are a few helpful tips to make your travels safe and enjoyable.

  • Pre-travel prep. Whether you’re flying or road-tripping with your four-legged family this holiday season, ensure your pup has had ample exercise in the 24 hours before your trip. Right before you leave for the airport or hop in the car, let your dog run around for 30-60 minutes as well. This time will allow him or her to get our any excess energy, fully evacuate (especially important if you’re flying!), and be more calm once you are settled in your mode of transportation.
  • Help your dog love his pet travel carrier. If you're traveling this holiday season with your pet, there's a good chance your dog will be confined to a pet carrier bag for some time. If your dog hasn't used his pet carrier yet, now is a good time to get him used to the carrier! Start by leaving the pet carrier on the floor of your home to let him explore it. Once comfortable near the bag, practice carrying him in the carrier throughout your home, praising him while doing so and slipping him a treat once you place the pet bag back on the floor. When your pup seems ready, go for a short walk outside with him enclosed in the carrier! Extend these trips until your pup seems fully acclimated to his new digs. Here is a step-by-step process to ensure your pup learns to love his pet carrier bag.
  • New and unfamiliar environments. If you are staying at an unfamiliar home or hotel with your pup during the holidays, be extra mindful of the environment. Is there anything in the new setting that could be a problem for your pup or even endanger him or her? Check for uncovered garage cans, low-hanging holiday decorations, and small nooks or crannies where a dog could sneak into. Make sure food and any harmful plants are well out of reach as well. 
By Steph from DJANGO


"Consider Medicines, Treats & Supplements" - James from Vet's Best

A: It’s officially the 2021 holiday season! That means you’re busy purchasing and wrapping gifts, planning family get-togethers, and of course, figuring out what you’re going to do with your pet during your holiday travels. This year, Vet’s Best® has partnered with veterinarians on how to make traveling with your pets safe and stress-free.  

  • Travel Tip #1 – Keep the Kennel Close By - It’s important to always remember your pets kennel when you hit the road. It’s familiar and allows them to feel safe and comfortable when they are out of their environment. Bring their favorite stuffed animal and you’re all set!
  • Travel Tip #2 – Remember to Pack Their Food - It’s common for animals to stress when traveling. Traveling can cause pets to have accidents including over-urinating and possibly diarrhea. Packing their regular food and avoiding any other outside foods can ease their stomach (and your car seats). 
  • Travel Tip #3 – Ensure Their Tags Are Updated -Before you hit the road, make sure your pets tags/microchip information is updated. If your pet gets loose in a strange place, it can make it harder for you to locate them. Taking this extra safety precaution can ease your mind. It’s also important to make sure their collar is secure at all times. 
  • Travel Tip #4 – Medicines, Treats & Supplements - Traveling can cause anxiety in animals. Consider packing a natural calming supplement to promote relaxation for easy travel like Vet’s Best Comfort Calm. It’s a natural and effective way to keep your pet at ease during travel. Likewise, make sure you pack their favorite treat and general medicines for those who can get home or car sick. 

Enjoy the Holiday Season with Your Furry Friend 

As you plan for your travels using these tips, remember to snuggle and enjoy spending time with your favorite furry companion. As part of the family, you can always count on them to make you smile. Happy holidays!

By James from Vet's Best


"Monitor Pets While You're Away" - Erick from PupPod

A: If you are away from your pup, play with them from anywhere using PupPod. You can control the game using the PupPod mobile app and watch them having fun and earning food rewards by solving a high tech puzzle game.

By Erick, CEO of PupPod


"Play Before You Go" - Jim from 4Knines

A: Play Before You Go

Make sure your dog gets some solid exercise before a long car ride. This will help them remain calm and hopefully help them catch a long nap on the road.


Packing Essentials

  • Water, bowls, portioned dog food and medications should be packed in an easily accessible place.
  • Play it safe and don’t feed your dog right before a car ride. Be sure to pack cleaning supplies in case of accidents.
  • Check your dog’s collar and ID tags to verify the information is current and easy to read. 
  • It’s a good idea to have a rear dog seat cover in place so that any accidents, fur, dirt and drool can easily be cleaned up without any permanent damage to your vehicle.
  • The American Automobile Association recommends restraining pets inside the vehicle to keep them safe and to avoid distractions while driving. Check out the 4Knines seat belt with a 360° swivel clasp and the sturdy, “no choke” harness with reflective straps that come in four sizes. 
  • A comfy blanket and toys are a must. You might even want to pack a new toy or treat - dogs love surprises too!

Stop and Stretch Those Legs

No matter how well-behaved your dog is, it may get pretty tired of traveling after a while and become restless. Take frequent stops and allow your dog to take a potty break and get rid of some energy. Always keep your dog on a leash. Have fun and safe travels!

By Jim, Founder of 4Knines


puppy is wearing a Santa's Christmas hat

Planning the trip back home during the holidays doesn't have to be so stressful and challenging if you have best tips & practices from pet experts. Hope you can apply some of these tips, and enjoy a fun and safe travel with your loved ones and furry friends! Happy holidays from Wag!.


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