Ally Bank’s Guide to Pet Care While Traveling

Have a tough time deciding what to do with Fido when you travel? You’re not alone.

DogVacay, a leading online home dog boarding and pet services community, released a survey earlier this summer on the state of pet travel in the U.S. It found that 72 percent of those who travel without their pets worry about them during their vacation, and 75 percent don’t trust airlines to properly care for their pets when checked or traveling as cargo.

Then there are the costs to consider. DogVacay’s survey found that pet owners spent an average of $247 annually on traveling with their pets. However, those that left their animal in someone’s care spent an annual average of $486 doing so.

So how do you figure out what’s right for you, your pet and your wallet? And what’s the best way to prepare your pet for a flight or a stay at a kennel? Take a look at our guide below.

Talk to Your Vet

If you’re thinking about taking your pet with you on a trip, talk to your veterinarian first. Your vet will be able to tell you if your pet is healthy enough to travel, notes the Humane Society of the United States. In addition, the site points out that your vet may be able to prescribe a sedative or tranquilizer to make the trip easier on your furry friend.

Consider the Costs

When it comes to ensuring a pet’s safety and comfort, a lot of people are willing to spend however much is necessary. That being said, the costs of flying your pet versus leaving them with a pet boarding service are worth considering. Animal Planet notes that pet boarding costs range from $15 to $35 a day, depending on the facility.

When it comes to bringing them with you, notes that flying your larger pet as checked baggage can cost between $50 and $500, depending on the airline and on the size of your animal. If your pet is on the smaller side, you can usually stow it under your seat, but it might set you back between $100 and $300 each way.

Make Sure Your Documents Are in Order

If you’re traveling internationally with your pet, make sure you know what documents you need. National Geographic notes that all countries require proof of vaccinations and your animal’s good health (another reason to visit your vet before traveling). Some countries even require a “pet passport” upon entry, so do your research and find out what your destination requires.

Be Smart When Packing

If your pet is flying with you as cargo, you don’t want them to be uncomfortable. ASPCA suggests purchasing a USDA-approved shipping crate that has ample room for your pet. They also suggest writing “Live Animal” on the box so handlers know to take special care, as well as attaching a photograph in case your animal goes missing. 

Research Pet-Friendly Hotels

Not all hotels allow pets. But thankfully, there are numerous websites that point you to ones that do. Pet Hotels of America lists pet-friendly hotels and vacation homes, and even offers a directory of pet sitters, groomers and veterinarians. You can also check out or visit the website of any major hotel chain for their pet policy.

Make Sure They Are in Good Hands

Leaving your pet behind while traveling can be difficult. But if this is your only option, there are things you can do to give yourself peace of mind while you’re away. The American Kennel Club suggests checking out the kennel or boarding facility you choose before you depart to make sure it’s clean and comfortable. They also note that, like international customs, any reputable kennel will ask about your pet’s vaccinations and shots.

Hire Someone to Look After Them

If you don’t like the idea of a kennel, you can always hire a pet sitter. The Humane Society notes that the benefits of this are an environment your pet knows best, relief from traveling to an unfamiliar place and your pet’s ability to stick to its usual routine. The organization’s site even offers tips on how to find and vet a prospective pet sitter.

What steps do you take to ensure your pet is well cared for when you travel? Do you prefer to bring your pet or keep it in a boarding facility?

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