Pets are growing more and more popular. While we’ve enjoyed the company of dogs and cats for centuries, the trend for pet ownership has exploded in recent years. A great many more of us cherish and adore animal companionship than used to. American pet ownership hit an all time high in 2013, and has continued to grow ever since. And, with more of us owning pets, more of us are being faced with the conundrum of what to do with our beloved furred and feathered (and scaly!) friends when we go on vacation. Sometimes, we may be tempted to take our pets on vacation with us. Is this ever a good idea? Sometimes it actually can be, but it all depends upon certain variables…
Probably the most important question here is, what kind of pet do you have? And what role do they play in your life? If you have a goldfish, it’s probably not the best idea in the world to cart its tank across the globe. If, however, you have a service dog, it may be far better for all concerned if your dog accompanies you on vacation. Pets can mean an awful lot to us, and worry about leaving them behind prevents far more people than we realize from heading out on vacation. Pets are fantastic companions, which are great for both our mental and physical health, and can get us through some really hard times. So it feels a bit churlish to head off into the sun and leave them behind. Well, we can perhaps set your mind a little at rest on this score: sadly or revealingly (depending on your point of view), the vast majority of pets will not take kindly to going on vacation with you, and would rather be in the familiar surroundings of home. Cats – however much they may seem to adore you – will be intensely stressed by vacation travel. The same applies to birds, reptiles, rodents…you name it. In general, for most animals you are better off getting in someone reliable to look after them in their own, familiar setting while you’re away. It’s selfish to take animals on vacation when they’ll just be stressed out by it. The possible exception to this rule is some dogs. Dogs integrate themselves far more into our families than most animals, and are considerably bonded to us as individuals. While some dogs may find travel stressful (you know best how your dog will cope), others will consider separation from their owners a greater source of anxiety. And some dogs will simply really relish the opportunity to come and enjoy themselves on vacation with the family!
Let’s start with possible legal complications. Measures implemented to control the spread of disease, and control ecological conditions mean that there may be restrictions upon animal movement in certain destinations. We’ve all seen that video of the ill-fated Amber Heard and Johnny Depp apologizing to Australia for smuggling their dogs into the country – you don’t want to end up having to make your own apology video to an angry government! In general, it’s easier to get dogs into other countries than it is to move ‘livestock’ around, but there are still often certain processes to go through. Your dog may need a ‘pet passport’, which will allow it to travel to countries participating in the pet passport scheme. Without a passport, you may find your beloved family pet being impounded in quarantine – unthinkable! So do your research and get any relevant paperwork together before you attempt to head out into the wide blue yonder with your dog. Then, you need to find out whether your destination will accept dogs. Pet friendly vacation destinations are becoming more and more common, but you may still need to put in a little legwork to find lodgings which will accept dogs. Sometimes, it’s worth pursuing the matter. Lodgings which ostensibly state that they won’t accept pets can sometimes be persuaded to make an exception. However, you may be asked to pay an extra deposit, just in case!
Now, do some soul-searching. Much as you may love to have your dog with you on vacation, and much as your dog may love your company – are the activities you’re planning suitable for your dog? If your dog is not a service dog, you will find that a lot of locations are closed to it. Is your plan to leave your dog tied up outside lots of shops? Or in the hotel while you go around museums and art galleries? Are the bars and restaurants typically dog-friendly? If you’re heading out on a hiking vacation, or to somewhere with a dog-friendly, ‘dogs-allowed’ reputation, then go right ahead and enjoy your vacation with your dog! If, however, your vacation will entail leaving your dog alone for long periods in an unfamiliar location, then it’s probably better off being looked after at home by a dog-sitter.