Holiday Travel: Should Pets Come Along?

pets near a decorated christmas tree

Will you be traveling this holiday season? If so, will you bring your dog or cat with you? Some pets love traveling with their owners, but others should be left at home with a trusted caregiver that will take good care of your pet. You may also consider taking your pet to a highly recommended boarding facility. How can you decide the best option for your dog or cat?

If you have a cat, Dr. Stacy Eckman, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said most cats are best left at home with a pet sitter.

“This allows the cat to stay in its own environment,” Eckman said. “If a pet sitter is not an option, then a boarding facility with a separate cat area is a good idea.”

If you have a dog, they can also be housed in a boarding facility. Boarding facilities house a large number of kennels for dogs and cats to stay in. The kennels are various sizes and some may even have outdoor access. However, if you choose to board your pet, be sure that the boarding facility is clean and your pets are up-to-date on all required vaccinations. Vaccines can help protect your pet from common viruses found in boarding facilities.

You should also ask yourself: “How often are the pets fed? Does the staff seem knowledgeable and caring? Are veterinary services available? Will my pet be comfortable in the kennels provided? Will my pet get adequate exercise?” Eckman said.

In addition, be sure to tour the facility before you decide to use their services. This will help in deciding the best boarding kennel for your pet.

If a pet sitter or boarding facility isn’t your pet’s style, perhaps they would rather be with you. Taking your pet for a road trip is certainly an option; just be sure to secure your pet in a kennel and give your pet a bathroom break every two hours.

If your pet will be traveling on an airplane, bus, or train, please make sure to call ahead to make arrangements for their travel. You may need to pay additional costs to travel with your pet and provide up-to-date shot records.

As a guest at another person’s house, be sure to let your host know that you’re bringing a furry friend. Keep in mind that your pet will be in a different environment with new people, smells, and potentially other pets, so keep a watchful eye on them. If other pets are in the house, consider providing a safe space for your pet where they can be alone.

With the holidays just around the corner, be sure to make arrangements for your pets if you plan on traveling. Knowing your pets are happy and safe during the holidays is the best gift of all.

Pet Talk is a service of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Stories can be viewed on the web at Suggestions for future topics may be directed to

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