Travel & Day Trips

An Expert Vet’s Tips For Traveling With Your Dog, In the Bay Area and Beyond

Many of us in the Bay Area love the great outdoors, and it’s even better when our four-legged friends can join us! If you’re planning a road trip within the beautiful landscapes of Northern California, or even venturing further afield, it’s essential to ensure your pet’s comfort and safety during these adventures.

Dr. Lori Teller, President of the American Veterinary Medical Association, offers some expert advice on traveling with your pet which can help both within the Bay Area and beyond!

1. Confirm Pet Policies before Booking

Before booking your stay, whether it’s at a cozy inn in Sausalito, a hip boutique hotel in San Francisco, or a rustic cabin in the Redwoods, always check if your dog is allowed and understand the property’s pet policy. Pet policies can vary greatly, so you’ll want to know these details in advance.

Many Bay Area properties allow pets. But some can charge substantial deposits of $100 or more per night. Don’t be surprised; plan ahead.

2. Evaluate Your Dog’s Personality and Health

Before embarking on your journey along the Pacific Coast Highway or planning to explore the stunning landscapes of Yosemite National Park, take time to consider your pet’s disposition and health. For some pets, a stay at a local boarding facility or with a pet-sitter might be less stressful than an extended trip.

Dr. Teller says, “If this is your first time traveling together, picking a destination closer to home for a few days rather than a couple of weeks across the country can provide more flexibility which you get a better idea of how your pet copes with vacations.”

3. Pre-trip Vet Visit

Don’t forget to visit your local veterinarian – whether it’s in San Jose, Oakland, or right here in San Francisco – to ensure your dog is healthy and up-to-date on all vaccinations before you hit the road. Depending on your destination, your vet may suggest additional preventive measures. If you’re planning to cross into Oregon or another state, you may need a certificate of veterinary inspection.

“Crossing state lines, by air or in a car, typically requires obtaining a certificate of veterinary inspection in the weeks prior to your trip,” Dr. Teller shares.

4. Pack a Pet-specific Travel Kit

In addition to your hiking boots and sunblock, don’t forget a “travel kit” for your furry friend. Essentials should include water, food, medications, a leash, and waste bags. Bringing along your pet’s favorite bedding or toys can also provide a comforting touch of home while in a new environment.

5. Maintain Your Routine

Whether you’re staying in Santa Cruz or Sonoma, maintaining your pet’s usual routine can help them adjust to the new surroundings. Keep up your regular feeding times, walks, and cuddle sessions even though you’re away from home.

According to Dr. Teller, “Some consistency goes a long way in keeping your pet comfortable in new surroundings.”

My dogs enjoy some ice cream at Stinson Beach

6. Practice Good Pet Etiquette

Whether you’re visiting the bustling Pier 39, exploring the trails of Mount Diablo, or enjoying a pet-friendly winery in Napa Valley, remember to practice good pet etiquette. It’s the key to a pleasant experience for everyone.

Dr. Teller says “This includes keeping pets on a leash in public areas, not leaving pets unattended in the hotel room for long periods, and ensuring they do not disturb other guests. Having a plan to occupy your dog if they are to be left alone, such as puzzle feeders or long-lasting treats, can make them more comfortable and minimize disturbances.”

Dr. Teller’s tips serve as a useful guide to ensure your pet has a safe and enjoyable trip, no matter where your travels take you in our beautiful Bay Area and beyond. Happy travels!

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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