There's no place like home for the holidays, right? Home is where the heart is—and sometimes, the heart is a couple hundred miles away. Sometimes, the heart is attached to a four-legged, furry companion. If you're one of 37 percent of pet owners who take their animals on the road (or in the air), consider these tips for your holiday travel.
1. Visit the vet. All pets should visit the veterinarian to make sure they're fit to travel. Make sure your pet receives all tests and treatments required for travel—especially if you're traveling internationally—and carry an extra copy of your pet's veterinary documents.
2. Microchip and register your pet. Include the all-important information (your pet's name, your address and a number to reach you) on a tag attached to a collar, and bring a current photo of your pet in the event he or she gets lost.
3. Invest in high-quality traveling equipment. Keep your pets safe, and acclimate your pet to its crate or carrier before travel. Animals feel stress—just like humans—and it's important your pet feels comfortable in its home away from home.
4. Pack for your pet. Bring the basics: a good leash, pet medication, the pet's bed, bags to pick up after him or her and, if necessary, food and water.
5. Skip the sedatives. The American Veterinary Medical Association warns tranquilizers could impede respiratory and cardiovascular function, and affect balance during turbulence or rough handling, resulting in injury.
6. Use direct flights, travel on nonpeak flights and book early. Some airlines limit the number of pets that can be carried in the cabin.
7. Be proactive about your pet's safety. If your pet is traveling in the cargo hold, don't be afraid to alert the flight attendant to monitor the temperature and pressure.
8. Do your research. Find pet-friendly hotels, parks, restaurants, attractions and other businesses in your destination, and notify the locations that you're bringing your pet with you. Have pet hospitals or veterinary clinics on your radar, in case something goes wrong.
Written by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for West Michigan Woman.