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Holi-daze: A Pet Owners’ Travelling Guide

Written By on July 6, 2015

Don’t let planning your next vacation put you in a holi-daze. We’ve got you covered.

Only packing the essentials


 Since summer is in full swing, vacation season is at its prime. For those of you who own pets, planning a vacation may be challenging. You may be wondering “what is the best thing to do when you hit the road?”

Well you have two options:

    1. Leave your pet behind

(they will be more comfortable at home, plus the cost of bringing them is too much)  


    2. Take the pet along for the trip

Your decision greatly depends on how long you travel, how far you travel, your destination, how much you are going to spend, and how much you trust the person who takes care of your pet.

Option One: Leave your pets behind

When you cannot bring your pet companion along for the trip, you have to leave your pet behind. Although we would love for our pet to tag along on those dream vacations of ours (let’s face it- they are family!), it’s not always possible or convenient. What can be done?

You could place your pet someplace else or keep your pet at home.

Here are five options:


Placing your pet someplace else

Since dogs are more social creatures, they are better at adapting to new environments, as long as they are with their loved ones. Hence, taking this route may be more applicable to dogs.

1. Boarding (kennels or veterinary clinics)

What is boarding? It is a service offered by some veterinary clinics and kennels (shelters for pets) where pets can be dropped off by their owners for a time period. You pay a fee and your pet gets looked after by qualified people. During this time the the pet is fed, walked, and cared for. Boarding your pet is smart if your pet is social and friendly. Pets can be adjusted to boarding particularly in the event that they were acquainted with it at a young age. We suggest you try boarding your pet a few times before you have a long trip…

The best part is that Alta Vista Animal Hospital provides this service!!! Bet you didn’t know that 😉

Cat and Dog Boarding at Alta Vista Animal Hospital

We provide cat and dog boarding at a competitive nightly rate. If your pet is on medication, we will administer them for you. All boarding animals must be up-to-date on their annual vaccines, but if you have not gotten around to it yet we can vaccinate your pet during their stay with us. Dogs will have two to three walks daily, or more if required, and all our boarding animals will be monitored during the day by our staff and the cages are watched carefully for waste. Reservations can be made months in advance as holidays can fill up quickly, but you can usually book your animal on short notice the rest of the year. During their stay, your pet will not be exposed to unvaccinated animals.

2. Leave the pet at a family member’s or  friend’s house

Make sure the house is pet safe (ie. non-smokers, responsible people, fenced back yard for dogs, responsible family members or roommates so the pet doesn’t get let out through the front door by accident).

3. Find a volunteer

Although this method is not the best, it is affordable. There are plenty of people who are pet owners themselves willing to help out!

Keeping your pet at home

Something to keep in mind is that cats are naturally more comfortable in familiar places. Dogs are better at adapting to new environments, as long as they are with their loved ones. So if you are a cat owner, this may be the better route for you to take.

4. Ask a family member, a close friend, or a neighbour to stop by and take care of your pet a few times a day.

This would include feeding them, spending time with them, and cleaning up after them (cages, tanks, litter box etc). A good suggestion would be to ask them to house sit for you as well. This way your house would be taken care of, along with your pet. The major advantage of having a house sitter is that your pet wouldn’t be alone. They would have a constant companion to love and care for them. This works if you know someone you can trust.

5. Another possibility is to hire a pet sitter privately.

Whether you’d like it to be at your home or the sitter’s home is for you to judge since you know your pet best. The advantage to keeping your pet at home is the familiar environment. The disadvantage is the loneliness and health risks the pet may face if the sitter will not be staying at your home constantly. We recommend you ask for references when searching for a sitter, since they need to be very reliable and friendly.

Option Two: Take the pet along for the trip

Taking your pet with you! This decision greatly depends on the type of pet you have, level of socialization, breed, and temperament. Travelling for a pet can be very stressful if the trip is long and far. If humans find it uncomfortable and exhausting, imagine how your pet feels!? Could you fly in a cage inside the cargo hold for ten hours? Doubt it. On the other hand, travelling with a pet on vacation could add to the fun and alleviate the worry of wondering how your pet is doing while you are away. So if this is your option, you need to do your homework. You need to know what to expect during the trip AND once you reach your final destination. You could make your vacation a truly relaxing experience for you and your pet, by planning ahead of time.


1. Researching Pet Friendly Destinations (pet friendly travel guides)

When researching pet friendly destinations you must consider multiple factors before finalizing your decision. These factors include, pet friendly accommodations, attractions, parks, regulations, and so on. Please note that before arriving to a certain location you might be required to provide certain documents regarding your pet, therefore it’s important to familiarize yourself with the location’s regulations before heading somewhere.

We have resources you could use to help you research for all kinds of pet friendly vacations, internationally, nationally, and locally.

In the case of travelling internationally, either in North America or World-wide, this website is a pet travel guide for dogs and other four-legged companions in cities all over the world. Here you can find anything from pet friendly hotels to pet friendly campgrounds:

If you are travelling within Canada, whether you decide to do a road trip or fly to your destination, we have a resource you could use to help you decide where to go:

Even if you just want to explore Vancouver locally, here are some great tips from tourism Vancouver, where you can find: pet regulations, pet-friendly accommodations, and off-leash parks in greater Vancouver.

2. Crating your pet for travel

You may feel bad for putting your pet in an animal crate when you are travelling. But sometimes it is the safest way to travel with them and they may even feel more comfortable. Here are some tips if you decide to crate your pet:

Make sure they have gotten enough exercise beforehand so that they feel ready to rest. It is also important to make sure you remove anything from inside the crate that may be harmful to you pet, for example, leashes or loose items that could strangle them. Keep calm and have a positive demeanor when introducing your pet to the crate. Any anxiety or stress will rub off on them. Be sure to come back to the crate every 15 minutes without removing them, to ease their separation anxiety and let them know that the crate is safe.
Check out the video below for more details.
How to crate your dog for travel

3. Driving with your pet

Road trips are so much better when you have a companion by your side! Whether you crate your pet for the drive or not is up to you. Crating your pet during a drive may be less distracting and safer for the both of you. It is also important not to feed your pet before or during your trip, as the motion of the vehicle could make them feel nauseous.

If you are on a longer drive, be sure to stop for breaks to give your pet time to play, stretch, or have some water. It is extremely important that you don’t leave your pet in a parked car especially when it is hot out! The car can reach the temperature of a hot oven, even with the car window cracked open.

4. Flying on an airplane

The most important thing to do if you choose this option, is to ensure that you pick the correct airline. This means that they serve the entire route from start to finish. Once you pick an airline, make sure you visit their website to research information and policies regarding pets. You should know whether the airline has any restrictions; know their policies, whether your pet can be in the cabin with you, or whether they will have to stay in the cargo hold (this is where knowing how to crate your pet properly is important). To help you with this option, here is a useful link that will give you the specifics of every airline along with their policies. It is also a useful worldwide travel resource for pets:

Regardless of who you might leave behind or where you travel, the deciding objective is to make your pet’s day comfortable and routine. Select a choice that will give you and your pet the best outcome. BONE voyage!


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