4 Options for Your Pet When You Take a Summer Vacation

Bringing Your Pet With You

Sadly, it’s not always possible to bring your pet with you. But many hotels now are dog-friendly and some rental homes allow dogs, so you just might be able to bring your dog along for the fun. Cat-friendly hotels aren't quite as easy to come by, but they certainly do exist, and if a hotel appears to have any sort of pet policy, it's worth asking if they allow the feline kind. (It should be noted that most cats aren’t naturally big fans of traveling with you, although, of course, there are exceptions.)

Before taking your pet on a trip with you, Dr. Sung recommends making sure your dog travels well in the car and that your cat has at least learnedto tolerate riding in a vehicle, as he may experience motion sickness or anxiety and that's not something you want to discover the morning of your vacation.

You should pack the comforts of home — including his crate, bed, favorite toys, food, water and treats. As mentioned above, bringing your cat's usual litter along can help him feel a bit more at home, even when he's using a temporary litter box on the road. You can prep your cat or dog for travel ahead of time by getting him used to his travel crate. Once you're on the road or at your destination, consider using a pheromone spray in the crate or carrier and the room itself to help calm your pet's nerves.

If you stay in a hotel, there are some things to know to be sure you have a successful stay. Make a reservation and confirm the hotel’s pet policy. When you get there, you can allow your pooch to check the place out, although you might want to start out in the bathroom with your cat, allowing her to explore the room once you see that she's not exhibiting signs of stress.

In the hotel room, create a comfortable space for your dog or cat, put out the “Do Not Disturb” sign and give him a toy or food puzzle to keep him busy when you leave the room. If you leave the hotel, make sure to give the front desk your cell phone number and ask them to contact you if your pet becomes noisy, so you don’t annoy other guests.

Watch for Red Flags

If you decide to board your pet or use a caretaker, it’s important to note any red flags that indicate your pet didn’t have a good experience. For dogs, these include noticing that she's distressed when you pick her up; any report that the dog appeared anxious, fearful or aggressive; any excessive barking, destructive behavior or aggression directed toward other dogs or people (especially when the pet does not have a prior history of aggressive behavior); and any gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea or vomiting, which can be an indication that your pet was stressed during the stay, says Dr. Sung. “This does not indicate that the pet was mishandled or mistreated but the pet may be less tolerant of being at the facility.”

Hiding is a common sign of stress in cats, and it's also not unusual for a cat to refuse to eat while his owner is away; however, food refusal is notsimply an inconvenience to be noted at the end of the trip! Refusing foodcan lead to a serious problem, as cats who don't eatfor a period of time often end up with hepatic lipidosis (or fatty liver disease). Caretakers of cats should also take note of whether the cat is using the litterbox daily. If there's no evidence in the litterbox, the cat may be eliminating elsewhere or, even worse, could be experiencing a urinary blockage and in need of immediate veterinary care.

Also, keep in mind that as your cat or dog gets older, he may not handle change as well as he did when he was younger. “It may be better for them to stay at home and have a caregiver come take care of them,” Dr. Sung says. “However, pets that have been boarded often may still enjoy going to those facilities because they may associate those places with having fun.”

By carefully considering the different options available to you, you may find a great situation for your pet. Dr. Sung recommends doing a “test run” the first time, where you stay close by for one or two days to make sure everything goes well — and will feel confident when you really head off on vacation.

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