Finding Pet-Friendly Hotels

Choosing a hotel is a hard task – how close is it to the attraction? Does it have a great view? What about that swimming pool? – but it can be even harder for those wishing to bring their pets.

To make hotel-hunting and your next hotel stay a little easier, we talked to pet experts, vets and pet owners on how to find the perfect pet-friendly accommodation:

NOTE: Most of these tips pertain to dogs. Many vets we spoke with stressed that cats tend to be homebodies and prefer to stay at home. Instead arrange for a pet sitter or a friend to come and keep an eye on your cat. If you do choose to take your cat on trips, it’s best to keep your cats in a crate for the duration of the trip.

Before You Go

Booking the Hotel Room

  1. First find a pet-friendly hotel or hotel chain. Visit our Pet Links - Travel Resources section for a pet resource list.
  2. Make a reservation. When you make a reservation be sure to ask:
    • Do you take pets?
    • Is there a weight limit? Many hotels have a weight limit and a number limit on how many are allowed in one room.
    • Do you have any breed restrictions?
    • Are there any supervision requirements (e.g. you must be in the room with your pet at all times)? What other rules do I need to be aware of?
    • Is there a pet deposit? Is it refundable at the end of the stay?
    • Is there a quiet dog-walk area outside the hotel?
    • Is there a canine concierge? What services do you have available for pets?
    • Is there any construction going on right now or other conditions at this moment that might make it difficult for my pet?
    • Do you have first-floor accommodations available? (It makes it easier when you need to take the dog out at 3am!!)

WHN Expert TIP: Reconfirm!

If your booking online or calling a 1-800 number be sure to call the local hotel in your destination and reconfirm that they do take pets. - Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, ASPCA Executive Vice President of National Programs and Science Advisor and owner of a dog, two cats and some fish

WHN Reader TIP: Think Outside the Box

We skirted hotel policies about pets when we traveled to the Atlantic City area: we located someone renting their home for the length of our vacation and were able to bring our dog to stay in a home like ours.

– Barry L., Hanover, MD

Head to the Vet

  1. Tell your vet about where you are headed to, how you’ll be traveling and for how long.
  2. Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. Also, be sure to ask your vet about possible diseases that might be prevalent at your vacation destination.
  3. Ask about current medical conditions and if they could pose a problem while traveling.
  4. Ask about feeding instructions and other things you can do to prepare your pet.
  5. Make sure your pet’s ID tags and microchip information are up to date with your current contact details and vaccination information, if necessary.

WHN Expert TIP: Make a Cell Phone Tag

Have a little tag made that has your cell phone number on it (many pet stores have machines that do this) – stick that on your dog’s collar when your traveling. If your dog gets away from you while you’re traveling, they’ll call you at home but you won’t be there!

- Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, ASPCA Executive Vice President of National Programs and Science Advisor and owner of a dog, two cats and some fish

WHN Expert TIP: Ask for Referrals

Ask your vet about referrals for other veterinarians in your destination area. Write down their contact details, just in case. If your vet doesn’t have any names, do a little research of your own. Contact the destination vet and ask if your pet will need any additional vaccinations or medications, just to be safe. – Lisa Peterson, AKC Director of Club Communications and owner, breeder and handler of Norwegian Elkhounds

Get in Gear

  1. You will need a crate or carrier for your pet to stay in while you’re in the hotel. Read our article Choosing a Crate which offers tips on what to look for when selecting one for your pet.
  2. You will also need a leash and collar for your pet.

    WHN Expert TIP: Label It!

    Be sure to label your crate with your name, address and cell phone number just in case. When you’re traveling, add an extra label with your destination information.
  3. Visit our Pet Travel Kit article for a complete list of items you may wish to take with you on your trip. A few suggested items:
    • Bottled water or water from your tap at home
    • Leash and collar
    • Medications and pet first aid kit
    • Pet’s food
    • Pooper-scooper, paper towels, cleaners, extra bedding and plastic bags

WHN Expert TIP: BYO H2O

A change in the water might cause diarrhea and intestinal distress for the pet. If you’re going to a different area, use bottled water. Also, your vet may be able to prescribe an anti-diarrheal medication or suggest a brand of canned food for your pet to prevent loose stools.

– Lisa Peterson, AKC Director of Club Communications and owner, breeder and handler of Norwegian Elkhounds

Getting Groomed

  1. Have your pet groomed before the trip. This will help your pet stay clean and healthy.
  2. Brush your pet’s hair and trim their nails before the trip.

Last-Minute Things to Check

  1. Call your accommodation to reconfirm your reservations and for any other last-minute questions.
  2. Research the dog-related laws in your destination area. For instance, you may need to keep your dog on a leash at all times and also pick up after them in some cities and towns. Some cities also ban certain breeds (pit bulls, Dobermans, German Shepherds, etc.) Call the city administration or animal control offices to learn about the laws in your destination town(s).

    – Lisa Peterson, AKC Director of Club Communications and owner, breeder, and handler of Norwegian Elkhounds

At the Hotel

Checking In

  1. When checking in, ask the hotel representative to give you a rundown of the hotel’s pet policies and rules.

    WHN Expert TIP: Don’t Assume All Rules Are Universal

    Hotel chains can vary in policy surrounding pet-friendly programs due to differences in state and local laws. It’s important to always request a list of rules surrounding pet lodging at every new hotel location. – World Wide Pet Industry Association (WWPIA)

  2. Again, ask about the pet deposit and if it will be refunded at the end of your stay. Ask now about restrictions and what, if anything, may cancel the refund.
  3. Ask for an overview of any pet programs and also where the dog-walking area is in relation to your room and the front desk.

Inside the Hotel

  1. Always keep your pet on its leash or in its crate when walking around inside the hotel. The hotel may have policies regarding leashes in order to ensure the safety of its guests.
  2. Keep your pet in its crate.
    “If you leave the dog in the hotel room and you’re not there, there’s a whole multitude of things that could happen,” says Lisa Peterson, AKC Director of Club Communications and owner, breeder and handler of Norwegian Elkhounds. “Housekeeping could open the door and the dog could bolt. Or they could be frightened if they’re not expecting to see a dog. Throw in their favorite toy into the crate, a kong with peanut butter to keep them entertained.”

    WHN Expert TIP: Do Not Disturb

    You can always hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door. This will ensure that members of the cleaning crew or hotel employees do not surprise your pet. – WWPIA

  3. Clear a space for your pet and their things. Choose a safe and roomy corner in the hotel room for your pet.

    WHN Expert TIP: Home Away from Home

    Be sure to set up an area of the room with your pet’s crate, blanket and toys. Your pet will most likely be confused at first and will welcome the sight and smell of products from home. - WWPIA

    WHN Expert TIP: Keep A Watchful Eye

    During the trip, keep a close eye on your dog. If you notice any signs of distress like shortness of breath or chronic fatigue, it’s a sign that your dog is not handling the trip well - Dr. Tod Schadler, associate dean of clinical studies at Ross Univ. School of Vet. Medicine

    WHN Expert TIP: Returning Home

    You may want to schedule a follow-up vet appointment to make sure your pet didn’t catch anything or that your pet wasn’t exposed to parasites and worms. – Lisa Peterson, AKC Director of Club Communications and owner, breeder and handler of Norwegian Elkhounds

    Want more travel tips? Top pet travel articles:

    - Pet Air Travel Tips

    - Pet Car Travel Tips

    - Pet Travel Kit

    Last Updated: 7/2009