Grab the poop bags and go

dvm360dvm360 July 2024
Volume 55
Issue 7
Pages: 10

Veterinarians provide insights on health, safety, and top destinations for traveling with pets

New Africa/

New Africa/

Happy summer, colleagues! I hope you take some time to unplug, decompress, and vacation with your loved ones, which may also include your pets! In recent years, the trend of vacationing with pets has surged in popularity, with a significant number of American pet owners opting to bring their dogs and cats on their travels. This shift presents unique opportunities and challenges for our profession, requiring updated knowledge on travel protocols, vaccination guidelines, and the best petfriendly destinations. Now is a great time to revisit travel guidelines for our clients and their pets and to provide social media tips to share with your clients and community

According to results from a survey by Forbes Advisor, dog owners travel sometimes with their pets by car (82%) and by airplane (33%).1 These statistics underscore a cultural shift where pets are increasingly viewed as integral family members, deserving of shared experiences and adventures. The rise in pet-friendly accommodations, restaurants, and activities has made it easier than ever for pet owners to include their animals in their travel plans.

The United States boasts numerous pet-friendly destinations that cater to the needs of both pets and their owners. Not every city or town is pet friendly, so it’s a good idea to be familiar with areas in your state or community that provide restrictions and ordinances. However, here are some of the most notable pet-friendly towns in the United States:

  1. Asheville, North Carolina: Known for its welcoming attitude toward dogs, Asheville offers numerous pet-friendly breweries, parks, and trails. The Biltmore Estate even allows dogs on its grounds, and many local hotels and vacation rentals accommodate pets.
  2. Austin, Texas: With its vibrant outdoor scene, Austin is perfect for pet owners. Zilker Metropolitan Park, the Barton Creek Greenbelt, and Lady Bird Lake provide ample space for dogs to roam. The city also features many pet-friendly restaurants and cafés.
  3. San Diego, California: San Diego’s numerous dog beaches, such as Ocean Beach and Coronado Dog Beach, make it an ideal destination for dogs who love the water. Pet-friendly hiking trails and a variety of accommodations cater to traveling pet owners.
  4. Portland, Oregon: Portland’s extensive network of parks and green spaces, along with its dog-friendly businesses, makes it a top choice for pet owners. Forest Park, one of the largest urban forests in the US, offers miles of trails for dogs and their owners to explore

With the increase in pet travel, we as veterinary professionals must adapt vaccination protocols to ensure the health and safety of pets on the move. Ask specific questions on where clients are heading (especially if it’s outside the US) and whether any day care or boarding will be needed. Here are some key vaccine reminders:

  • Rabies: Ensure that all pets are up to date on their rabies vaccinations, as this is a legal requirement in many states and crucial for public health.
  • Bordetella: Given the likelihood of exposure to other dogs in boarding facilities, parks, and beaches, the Bordetella vaccine is highly recommended. Making sure the dogs are protected immunologically ahead of time is crucial for vacation planning.
  • Leptospirosis: This bacterial infection is spread through water and soil contaminated by infected animals. It is strongly advisable to ensure dogs are protected against this disease, especially if owners plan on camping, hiking, and taking pets into rivers, ponds, and lakes to swim.
  • Lyme disease: For pets traveling to regions where Lyme disease is endemic, such as the Northeast and Upper Midwest, vaccination is advised. Regular tick prevention measures should also be emphasized.
  • Canine influenza: Areas with reported outbreaks of canine influenza necessitate vaccination to protect against this highly contagious respiratory infection. Discuss with clients the local risks and consider vaccination based on travel destinations.
  • DHPP: With recent outbreaks of parvovirus throughout the country, it is strongly advisable to evaluate your patient’s medical record and make sure they are properly protected against this infectious disease along with canine distemper, infectious hepatitis, and parainfluenza.

Providing educational content on your website, social media pages, and email blasts about vacationing with your pets is so valuable to your clientele. Providing constant tips and reminders throughout the summer is a great way of anticipating your clients’ travel needs with their pets and provides exceptional bonding to your practice. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Microchipping and identification: Ensure pets are microchipped and that contact information is up to date. Recommend owners use collars with current identification tags. Perhaps provide a microchip day to your community or a “check the chip” campaign to ensure updated client information is provided through that microchip.
  • Health certificates: For interstate or international travel, pets may be required to carry health certificates. Your team should be familiar with the specific requirements of various destinations and provide the necessary documentation through a US Department of Agriculture– accredited team member.
  • Travel anxiety and motion sickness: Address common travel-related issues such as anxiety and motion sickness. Recommending appropriate medications and behavior modifications can help make the journey more comfortable for pets.
  • First aid kits: Encourage pet owners to carry a pet first aid kit that includes bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, and any necessary medications. There are also great companies that sell first aid kits, or you can create an inexpensive do-it-yourself kit.
  • Hydration and nutrition: Stress the importance of maintaining regular feeding schedules, ensuring pets have access to clean water throughout the trip, and carrying essential products such as probiotics in case of dietary indiscretion. Show the importance of prepacking foods and how to keep pet food fresh when traveling.
  • Copy of medical records and medical refills: This is a big one. Be sure your clients have access to their pets’ medical records either online, in an app, or in printed copies. It’s also good to make sure they have enough of their pet’s long-term medications to hold them over on their trip.
  • Partnerships with pet services: Collaborate with local pet-friendly hotels, boarding facilities, and travel agencies to create a network of trusted services for your clients. These services may be part of a larger franchise group, and showcasing your support and endorsement of these particular businesses can help improve decision-making for your clients.
  • Pet travel safety: Provide tips on best practices for traveling with cats and securing dogs comfortably in the car or on a flight. Veterinarian Nelva Bryant, DVM, MPH—this month’s cover story author—is the industry’s first in-house veterinarian to review and revise policies related to transportation of live animals. Her website is full of excellent resources both for you and your clients.

The trend of vacationing with pets is not just a fleeting fad but a growing aspect of pet ownership that requires us, the veterinary professionals, to adapt and provide comprehensive care. By staying informed about pet-friendly destinations, updating vaccination protocols, and offering thorough travel preparation advice, veterinary professionals can ensure the health and happiness of pets on the move. This proactive approach not only enhances the bond between pet owners and their animals but also reinforces the integral role our profession plays in their lives. Wishing everyone safe travels and a happy summer.


Metz J. The Best Cities To Travel To With Your Dog – Forbes Advisor. Published June 18, 2023. Accessed July 10, 2024.

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