|Traveling to or from a foreign country requires extra planning|
It’s vacation time and everyone in the family is ready to go, including your four-legged family member. Travel surveys show that more families are traveling with their collared companions while on holiday and vacation rentals, such as Abalone Bay, are welcoming them. However, it’s one thing to plan, prepare and pack for the kids, it’s another to plan for your vacationing pet. If this is your predicament, we have prepared ten essential tips for you and your vacationing pet, to help make everyone’s holiday stress-free.
How to Make You and Your Vacationing Pet Welcomed Again and Again
1. Assess your pet.
Honestly assess your pet’s ability to travel and if he is going to get just as much enjoyment out of the journey as you will. Before you even begin your vacation planning consider what’s in it for him or her. If your pet is very young or old, ill, pregnant, a female in heat, or recovering from surgery it may be better for all concerned to look into a pet sitter or kennel rather than take a chance on injuring your pet by taking it with you. When in doubt, always ask your veterinarian. If your pet has not traveled before, try a short overnight or weekend trip first.
2. Call ahead to check the pet policy.
As you begin your travel planning, contact the vacation rental you wish to stay at to verify their particular pet policies. You’ll want to know if there are any restrictions on the size or breed of your pet. Is there a limit on the number of dogs allowed? Are there added fees for your pet? For example, Abalone Bay, in Sea Ranch, California allows no more than two collared companions and charges an extra $75 fee for each.
“Never arrive unannounced with a pet even if you’ve stayed at the hotel before, as policies change and they may no longer allow pets,” advises Karen “Doc” Halligan, director of veterinary services at spcaLA and author of What Every Pet Owner Should Know. Her advice is equally true for vacation rentals too. In fact, many vacation rental owners or managers will penalize you for “sneaking in” your pet unannounced.
3. Prepare early for your pet’s mode of travel and arrival to your final destination.
Get a clean bill of health from the veterinarian. Make sure your pet is clear of all external and internal pests. Obtain a health certificate showing proof of up-to-date inoculations, particularly rabies, distemper, and kennel cough.
When traveling out of country
If traveling out of the country there may be a requirement to have this done within a short window of time prior to embarking on your travels (10-30 days). When traveling to a foreign country, be aware of the laws in both the country you reside in and the country you will be visiting regarding exiting and entering with pets. (See here for the USA import and export of pets). You may need a signed affidavit of health by your vet and/or your country’s agricultural office. If you haven’t already done so, have your dog micro-chipped, especially if you are traveling to a foreign country. Note that there may be added fees when traveling in or out of countries.
How will you be traveling?
- Travel by air: Check with your particular airline to determine if they allow pets and what their policies are. Check here for a list of USA domestic airlines that accommodate animals.
- Travel by train: Recently (March 2014) Amtrack launched a trial program to allow small pets to ride the rails. However, Bring Fido lists foreign and smaller local train trips. Check with your mail carrier to determine updates to their policies. Service animals are allowed, however.
- Travel by bus: Unless your dog is a service animal, most major bus lines in the U.S. do not allow the transport of pets
- Travel by ship: At the present time there is only one cruise ship, Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 that allows pets on very long voyages. Do be certain to check for quarantine requirements. Pets are not allowed in the room cabin with you. Accordingly, they are required to stay in a limited number of kennels that can hold up to about a mid-size dog. You can visit with your dog once or twice a day. However, there are dozens of ferry liners with accommodations for both pets and their humans.
- Travel by car: If you haven’t done so already, be sure your dog is accustomed to traveling in a car. Take short trips to help alleviate any anxiety he may feel. Just like you, your pet needs to buckle up for safety. Whether in a car, the back of the station wagon or SUV, or in the bed of a truck, secure your pet in a crate or harness. Be mindful of the weather conditions for your pet, and NEVER leave him unattended in a car.
If your pet is a service animal check here for tips in public transportation.
4. Pack your pooch’s favorite items from home.
Just as you would never leave your child’s favorite blanket or toy remember to pack some of your dog’s favorite comfort items as well. Bringing a little bit of home with your dog will help him relax in his new environment.
What to include in your dog’s packing list:
- Carrier or crate
- Sturdy, well-fitting nylon or leather collar or harness, license tag, ID tag(s), and 6-foot leash
- Health certificate and other required documents
- Food and water dishes
- Can opener and spoon (for canned food for when you are on the road)
- An ample supply of your pet’s usual food, plus a few days extra
- Medications, if necessary
- Healthy treats
- A blanket or other bedding, for your dog’s comfort and to protect the rental’s furnishings from dog hair
- Litter supplies and plastic bags
- Favorite toys
- Chewing preventative
- Grooming supplies as needed
- First-aid kit
- A recent photograph and a written description including microchip number, name, breed, gender, height, weight, coloring, and distinctive markings
5. Clean up after your dog.
Remember that the full return of your security and cleaning deposit may depend on it! Both in the vacation house and on the grounds, be sure to quickly pick up your dog’s poop. Many pet-friendly locations have designated outdoor areas for dogs, so be sure to take your pooch there frequently for potty breaks. Don’t let your dog do his business in close proximity to other homes or their landscaping. If your dog has an accident in the house, clean it up with paper towels, not the vacation rental’s bath towels.
6. Keep your pet with you at all times.
When left alone, research shows pets may feel as traumatized as young children do. For that reason, pets should be with you as much as possible during your stay so they do not bark and whine longingly for you or get into mischief while you are away. While it may take some planning, train your dog to be crate-friendly. If you plan to spend hours sightseeing without your dog, ask the owner or property manager for referrals for doggie daycare facilities or a pet sitter.
What to do when you can’t keep your pet at your side
However, when sitting service is not available, then leave the TV or radio on for background noise, and be prepared to change your plans quickly if your pet barks or howls. If you must leave a pet alone, we recommend leaving them outside in the courtyard, or in a pet crate or cage designed for them. Of equal importance, do not leave them where they can scratch at the woodwork. Should your pet howl or bark and disturb the neighbors you may receive a visit from the security guard or even animal control.
7. Don’t allow your dog on the furniture.
Some rentals explicitly specify that pets are not allowed on furniture, but even if yours does, don’t allow your pooch to jump on sofas, chairs or beds. It’s a good idea to cover the furniture with sheets you’ve brought from home or ones provided by the rental.
8. Keep your dog on a leash.
With your dog on a leash, he can enjoy the gifts of nature, get outdoors and exercise his nose with a banquet of countryside aromas and remain safe and secure. Therefore, don’t allow your dog to run around freely on the vacation rental property and surrounding area. In respect for nature, while at Abalone Bay, and in The Sea Ranch all dogs are required to be kept on a leash. In fact, you may receive a fine should you unleash your dog.
9. Place your dog’s bowls in the Kitchen.
If your dog is a sloppy drinker or eater, it’s easy to clean the mess off the tile floor. Furthermore, if you are renting in a rural or country area, avoid feeding your pet outside as neighboring raccoons or other varmints may eat it before they do.
10. Point out and pay for any damages.
Let the rental owner or property manager know if your dog breaks anything, and offer to pay to replace it. If there are significant damages to the vacation home or its grounds there may be a loss of your security and/or cleaning deposits.