Winter vacations are no longer just for two-legged travelers, as many Canadians now head away with their pets for the winter. Traveling with your pet is practical and can be a lot of fun. However, it is important to consider a number of things as you prepare for a trip.
First, pet owners should be aware that each country has its own laws and regulations for importing pets (either for a short-term visit or for a long-term move). If traveling to the United States from Canada, our team can help you with the necessary paperwork to cross the border. Otherwise, it is the pet owner's responsibility to contact the country to which they are travelling for importation requirements. Many governments have this information available on their official web sites or can be obtained with a call to the country's consulate or embassy.
The next question to answer is how best to get your pet to your destination—is it best to travel by ground or in the air? If it is possible to reach your vacation spot by car and your pet travels well, this may be the best option. Remember to research stops along the way for ‘pit stops’ and find pet-friendly lodging for your overnights. Many hotel chains, especially along major highway corridors in the U.S. and Canada, will now allow four-legged guests. You will of course need to carry supplies for your pet or purchase them at your destination. It is worth noting that when entering the U.S., you are not permitted to bring open bags of pet food, and you will need to purchase food at your destination.
In recent years, transporting pets on commercial airline flights has grown more complicated and more expensive. All major air carriers have significantly raised the fees they charge for bringing pets onboard, and the charges vary depending on whether the pet flies under your seat, or as checked baggage or cargo. It is important to contact each airline directly about their specific requirements for pet travel, including sizing of carriers and weight limits for pets.
As you finalize your travel plans, take the time to prepare your pet for the trip. This should included a visit or phone call to our office to ensure that your pet is up-to-date on all vaccinations, and that you have any medications you might need such as flea/tick prevention and heartworm medication. This is very important when traveling to warm destinations during our winter months, as your pet will be exposed to a long list of diseases that we do not worry about in Toronto at that time of year. You will want to have your pet protected from parasites so that they do not fall ill (or bring infections home). If your pet is on medication for a chronic health condition, you will also need to plan to take a supply with you.
Our last note is this… remember that your pet can also have its own ‘vacation’ by staying at home and visiting one of the many kennels with upscale pet amenities or open play spaces. Sometimes this is the best choice to allow you and your pet to enjoy your vacation.