Many dogs and cats will be traveling along with the 24 million Americans hitting the road and skies for the holidays. Transportation Security Administration's Lisa Farbstein told NBC News that, “We know that a lot of people want to bring their pet with them because they're visiting their relatives, and so we do see an increase in the number of pets this time of year.”
For owners flying with dogs, it is important to double check the latest airline rules and regulations at least two weeks before boarding. Airline regulations on pet travel can be confusing, contradictory, and are always changing. For example, Delta and Alaska Airways recently announced that they will no longer accept short nosed (brachycephalic) dogs, such as pugs, bulldogs, and shih tzus, in the cargo area because those animals may have difficulty breathing in a stressed environment. Alaska Airlines has also instituted a new rule requiring that all pets, including in cabin pets, have an interstate health certificate before boarding. Several airlines, including Jet Blue and US Airways, no longer permit pets to be checked in the cargo area, and may only be carried in the cabin if the pet is under 20 pounds. Because the pet policies of airline partners US Airways and American Airlines are different, pets will not be connected on flights operated by US Airways anymore. Checking into your airline's policies will help save headache and time.
For owners driving with dogs, there are many apps and websites that can help plan a road trip. DogFriendly and BringFido, which are the two largest Internet repositories of dog friendly hotels, restaurants, and parks, have mobile apps that integrate with a driver’s current location. The Rest Areas Pro app is a handy $0.99 app that lists all of the rest areas in the United States, including rest areas nearest to your location, with information about the rest areas’ amenities, including whether it includes pet stops.
Jetsetting pets need travel gear, too, and the following picks will help pets enjoy their trips:
• A sturdy carrier: A sturdy crate or carrier is essential for airplane travel and can be very helpful on the road and at hotels. While frequent pet fliers prefer the soft-sided collapsible crates, which are lighter and can save space, some dogs will shred those soft-sided carriers. In that case, a plastic carrier or metal carrier is your best bet.
• Two good leashes and a collar: An ordinary 3 foot flat lead is useful for city walks, airports, and crowded areas. Retractable 26 foot leashes are handy to have in the woods and on long walks in parks.
• Bathroom bags in a bag holder: Be a good citizen and clean up after your pet wherever you go. It’s simple to keep a bag holder attached to leashes.
• Collapsible water and food bowls: Collapsible water and food bowls are convenient and space-saving while traveling. I recommend taking three collapsible bowls, one for food, one for water, and one as a backup.
• Thundershirt: The Thundershirt is an ingenious device that uses the power of swaddling and pressure therapy to help soothe and calm dogs in frightened and stressful situations, such as on airplanes and in unfamiliar hotels and restaurants. Simply strap the Thundershirt tightly around a frightened dog and watch the dog instantly begin to relax.
• Hammock seat cover: For long road trips, a hammock seat cover can help save your car’s seat cushions from dog hair, as well as provide a more secure space for dogs laying in the back seat.
While most pet travelers will be heading to visit relatives during the holidays, some lucky traveling pets will be going on vacation with their owners. At the Little Nell hotel in Aspen, Colorado, human guests will enjoy skiing while their vacationing pets relax in personalized pet beds and hike pet-friendly trails with the on-site pet sitters. Gourmet mutts will especially like trying out options from the hotel’s doggie menu, with entrees like tenderloin of beef with scrambled eggs and brown rice, grilled chicken breast with carrots and brown rice, and grilled salmon with scrambled eggs and brown rice. No matter what, your dog or cat is sure to enjoy traveling with you during the upcoming holidays.
Are you planning to bring your pets with you when you travel this year? Why or why not? Any tips you would share with those traveling with pets?
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