Seasonal Care

Holiday Planning Tips for Pet Owners

Holiday Planning Tips for Pet Owners

By Jill Lopez, DVM

According to the US Bureau of Travel Statistics, Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year's holiday periods are among the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year. In fact in 2014, over 98 million people traveled during the fall and winter holidays. Now, with the holidays on the horizon, many of us are starting to make travel plans.

We all know from our personal experiences that planning holiday travel can be demanding and time consuming. One big issue that many of us have is deciding how to keep our pets safe and happy while we are traveling.

The following are tips to help make your holiday plans pet friendly.

  1. If you plan to travel with your pet for the holidays, make sure to confirm in advance that your stay includes pet friendly destinations. Many hotel chains are now offering pet friendly rooms, but some will have additional charges or pet breed or weight restrictions. You can also visit to look for pet friendly accommodations and attractions.

Also, if you plan to stay with relatives or friends, make sure to confirm in advance that your pet is welcome as well.

  1. Pet sitters make it easy for you to leave your pets at home while you travel. Sitters are especially great for multiple cat households or if you have an extremely nervous pet. Reputable pet sitters should be licensed and bonded. Make sure to interview your potential pet sitter in advance and confirm all references. Your pet sitter should have your contact information while you are away and also a copy of your itinerary.

"You should also make sure your pet sitter has details in writing of what to do in case of an emergency," says Dr. Courtney Campbell, of CARE Emergency and Specialty Animal Hospital in Santa Barbara, California and also the co-host of National Geographic's Channel, Pet Talk, "Some veterinary clinics can provide you with an emergency treatment consent form that you can fill out in advance and share with both your sitter and your veterinarian."

Pet Sitters International maintains an online directory of pet sitters and the site also has a list of questions to ask a potential sitter.

  1. Boarding facilities are a good choice for pet owners with dogs-especially those with high energy levels that need more exercise and attention. Check with your veterinarian or other pet owners for kennel recommendations. "Online reviews may also be helpful in determining which facility is best for your pet, but reviews shouldn't replace your veterinarian's advice," notes Dr. Campbell.

Boarding facilities typically require that your pets have certain vaccinations in advance of boarding- some vaccines actually need to be given weeks in advance. While most kennels will require basic vaccinations, such as Canine Distemper, Parvovirus, and Rabies, they may also request vaccinations that prevent infectious respiratory diseases common to boarding facilities, such as bordetella, parainfluenza, adenovirus, and Canine Influenza.

"Canine Influenza, also known as dog flu, is an important infectious respiratory disease for socially active dogs," reports Dr. Campbell, "This newest form of dog flu, H3N2, was first found in North America in March 2015, while the older dog flu, H3N8 was first found in the US in 2004."

H3N2 is considered extremely contagious and has been detected in over 30 US States. Since Canine Influenzas are relatively new viruses and virtually all dogs are susceptible to infection. While most dogs will have a mild illness, some dogs can become very sick and require intensive care treatment.

Nobivac® Canine Flu Bivalent, a combination H3N8 and H3N2 Canine Influenza vaccine was approved on October, 2016. The vaccine may be administered to puppies as young as 7 weeks of age. Nobivac® Canine Flu Bivalent is administered as a 1 mL subcutaneous injection followed by a second dose 2-4 weeks later. An annual booster with one dose is recommended.

PetMD offers a list of "must knows" before sending your pet to the boarding kennel.

For more great pet tips, you can follow Dr. Courtney Campbell on twitter @DrCourtneyDVM