Choosing a hotel is a hard task with many factors to consider – its proximity to the attraction, the view the rooms offer, the presence of a swimming pool? – but it can be even harder for those wishing to bring their pets.
To make hotel-hunting easier and your next hotel stay happier, 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 it in a crate for the duration of the trip.
Before You Go
Booking the Hotel Room
- First, find a pet-friendly hotel or hotel chain. Our Pets Resources, Associations and Organizations page includes links to pet travel sources.
- Make a reservation. Be sure to ask:
- Do you take pets? If yes, ask about your specific type of pet: cat, dog, hamster.
- 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, the pet must be in a carrier while in the room)? 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 3 am!!)
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
- Tell your vet about where you are headed to, how you’ll be traveling and for how long.
- 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.
- Ask about current medical conditions and if they could pose a problem while traveling.
- Ask about feeding instructions and other things you can do to prepare your pet.
- 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). Attach it to your pet’s collar when you’re traveling. Otherwise, if your pet 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 Your Gear
You will need a crate or carrier for your pet to stay in while you’re in the hotel. Read Choosing and Preparing a Pet Crate for tips on what to look for when selecting one for your pet.
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.
Read Create a Pet Travel Kit for a complete list of items you may wish to take with you on your trip. A few suggestions:
- 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
Have your pet groomed before the trip. This will help your pet stay clean and healthy. Then do a final brush and nail trim before you head out.
Call your accommodation to reconfirm your reservations and for any other last-minute questions.
WHN Expert TIP – Know the Laws: “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
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)
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.
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.
While on Vacation
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.
WHN Expert TIP – Crate for Safety: “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 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
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 University School of Veterinary 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
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