Tips for traveling with pets this summer

By Berry Craig, Building Kentucky

Summer vacation time is upon us – and for many, that includes our pets.

More than half (52 percent) of pet owners consider their pets when planning vacations, and 16 percent stay-cation with their pets at home, according to 2021 MetLife poll of pet insurance policyholders.

Searches for pet-friendly accommodations have been on the rise, according to a story by Forbes.  That may mean more dogs and cats hit the road this year than ever before.

And USA Today recently reported that people are more likely to travel for longer period times this year – perhaps working remotely as they travel.

“The past year has affected the way people view their pets – and the way they view travel. Many people who previously flew across the country to take in museums or amusement parks, are now renting a cabin in the mountains or a house on the beach. That kind of trip is more pet-friendly – which is part of the appeal!”

Katie Blakeley, vice president and head of pet insurance at MetLife

A few tips to maximize travel and minimize worry – with or without pets

For those bringing your pet along for the trip, almost all respondents noted a driving vacation was the easiest for both pets and pet parents. Less chance for anxiety for everyone!

  • Pet friendly hotels and house rentals can be a great option to help your pet feel at home while you’re on vacation. Don’t forget the collar and consider having your pet microchipped!
  • Be sure to review basic obedience commands before heading out of town. According to PetMD, new and exciting sights and smells can distract a pet on vacation – even normally well-behaved dogs may run.
  • Be sure you’ve got a plan if your pet gets loose. Check social media pages for lost pets and using the local area’s shelter network to help.
  • Consider having your dog or cat microchipped and keep the information updated. Nearly 90 percent of poll respondents have their pet chipped.

Of course, pet-friendly vacations may not always be an option. For those who don’t travel with pets, there are still things to consider:

  • Just over 70% let a close friend or family member care for their pet while traveling
  • Of those who hire a pet sitter (35 percent) and those who board their pet at a kennel (19 percent), the majority felt reviews from friends and a trial run helped them feel better about leaving their dog or cat for a longer vacation.
  • Microchips may be important at home too. PetFinder reports that while only 22 percent of lost dogs entering shelters reunited with their owners – the rate of dogs reunited with a microchipped pet was over 52 percent. The biggest problem was having up-to-date chip information. Only 58 percent of pet microchips had been registered in a database.

“Don’t be afraid to do a trial run – whether your pet is coming with you or staying home. Try leaving your pet for a few hours or overnight with a friend, including their favorite toys and treats. Or, if you plan to take your pet with you, visit a family member overnight with your pet. Seeing how your pet will react with and without you can reduce vacation worries – and reduce the potential to have to head home early with an anxious pet or to pick up a lonely cat from the kennel.”

Katie Blakeley, vice president and head of pet insurance at MetLife

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