Traveling with Pets: 5 Keys to Success


One of the most awesome perks of being a travel healthcare professional is being able to take your fur-buddy along for the ride. Agencies know how much travelers love their pets, so company housing may be available that’ll make the logistics of finding a place to live that allows pets easier than dealing with it on your own. Some agencies bake pet deposits into the overall housing allowance. But don’t kid yourself, you’re still likely to get dinged for those extra pet fees. So, when you decide to hit the road on your next assignment and won’t go without your BFF, keep these five keys in mind.

Key 1 – Details, details, details

The good news is, pet-friendly agencies will do their best to make things work for you. But, be prepared. Pet ownership can cost you—like when a landlord uses any lame excuse they can to keep your $900 pet deposit. Give your agency or prospective landlord all the details up-front. Don’t make little “Frankie” sound like a 4-pound Chihuahua when he’s actually a 77-pound Pit Bull. If and when the landlord finds out Frankie’s full name is Frankenstein, it probably won’t go well.

Key 2 – Change is Hard

Bring several days’ worth of the food your buddy’s used to. Treats, too. Keep in mind a sudden change in what goes in can result in epic, frequent, cleanup of what comes out. (Don’t you already deal with that enough at work?) So, do yourself a solid and make the switch slowly—over a couple of days or so at least. We’d suggest that you take a couple of minutes and line up places that carry your pet’s favorite brand. If you can’t get the same brand he’s used to, start introducing any new brand slowly. Once you’ve landed where home will be for the next 13 weeks or so, ask a neighbor or colleague for pet-friendly attractions like dog parks. Getting out and burning off pent-up anxiety and energy will help.

Key 3 – Frequent Breaks on the Road

The actual traveling part may be hard on your pup (or cat, goldfish, iguana… we don’t discriminate around here). No animal likes to fly in the belly of a plane. Make sure they have water! People ask about sedation. We’re told it’s best not to sedate your pet unless your vet recommends it. Cats are famous for hating car trips. Experts say that pets are always safest in carriers when traveling, but if you do decide to let your buddy ride on the seat next to you, be sure he stays out from under your feet. Regardless, do yourself and your mutt a favor: take frequent breaks.

Key 4 – Keep to the Routine

Once you’ve arrived, remember that your pet’s going to need some time to adjust. Cats, especially, have a harder time with new surroundings. Give ‘em plenty of room and time to explore and get comfortable. (Or, crack open that stash of catnip.) If possible, keep some familiar part of your routine as close to what it was like as possible—especially feeding times and exercise. When you return from your shift, take extra time to pay extra attention to your pet. While you’re sipping on some of your favorite wine, soothing talk and belly rubs work for them. Make sure there’s plenty of fresh water, food… and, for cats, fresh litter. Be extra careful going in and out of your new digs. Anxious pets have been known to bolt for their last address if they see the opportunity and an open door. And, whatever you do… don’t let a cat out on its own to explore.

Key 5 – Plan Ahead

Don’t forget to knock these out before you leave:

  • It’s a really good idea to keep copies of your key pet details handy (like, on your phone) — we recommend you scan these in and keep them accessible on your phone — try Scannable linked to Evernote.
  • If your pet’s older or has health issues, add a list of meds and latest labs.
  • Make sure you have a highly-detailed, up-to-date tag on their collar. We recommend you add your cell # to the tag.
  • Research the name, number, and location of the 24-hour emergency vet clinic nearest to where you’ll be living.

Remember, pets are a great way to break the ice in a new place. Finding out that one of your new colleagues or new neighbor has a dog they like to take to the dog park or on runs may be a great way to connect. ­Traveling with your pets is a win-win, as long as you keep these 5 keys to success in mind.

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