Finding Pet-Friendly Hotels
Choosing a hotel can be a challenging task, but it can be even more difficult if you're bringing your pet along.
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 stop by to care for your cat. If you do choose to take your cat on trips, keep it in a crate for the duration of the trip.
WHN Expert Tip:
"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
Before You Go
Book the Hotel Room
First, find a pet-friendly hotel or hotel chain. Visit our Pet Links - Travel Resources [WHN page link TK] section for a pet resource list.
When you make your reservation, ask the following questions:
- 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?
- Will it be refunded at the end of your stay?
- Are there any restrictions?
- What, if anything, might cancel the refund?
- Is there a quiet dog-walk area outside the hotel? Is it lit at night?
- Do you have first-floor accommodations available? (It makes it easier when you need to take the dog out at 3 AM!!)
- Is there a canine concierge? What services do you have available for pets?
- Is there any construction or other conditions that might make it difficult for my pet?
WHN Expert Tip: Reconfirm!
"If you're booking online or calling a 1-800 number, be sure to call the local hotel at 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 out 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
Make sure your pet's vaccinations are up to date.
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.
WHN Expert Tip: Dangers Ahead
"Anticipate dangers you may encounter along the way. Each area of the country has endemic diseases, plants and animals that might affect your pet. In Arizona, owners should look out for scorpions and rattlesnakes. The Pacific Northwest has salmon poisoning: this infectious disease can kill dogs without aggressive treatment. Animals traveling to the East Coast should be vaccinated against Lyme disease. The fleas are ferocious in Florida. Prevention is a must so ask your vet about these diseases and travel concerns." Dr. Kristen L. Nelson of Veterinary Creative in Scottsdale, AZ
Make sure your pet's ID tags are up to date with your current contact details and vaccination information, if necessary. (Does it have a microchip? If so, update it as well.)
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) [to attach to] your dog's collar when you're 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
Pack for Your Pet
You will need a crate or carrier for your pet to stay in while you're in the hotel. Read our article Choosing and Using a Pet Crate for Travel 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!
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.
Visit our Create a Pet Travel Kit for a complete list of items you may wish to take with you on your trip such as:
- Bottled water or water from your tap at home
- Leash and collar
- Medications and pet first aid kit
- Pet's food and water and food bowls
- 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
Groom your pet and trim its nails before you leave.
Do A Last-Minute Check
Call your accommodation to reconfirm your reservations and for any other last-minute questions.
On The Trip
Hotel Check In
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)
When checking in, ask for a rundown of the hotel's pet policies, rules and amenities:
- Are there any pet programs?
- Where is the dog-walking area? (Security precaution: Note how close it is to your room and/or the front desk in case you are out after dark.)
- Confirm the details about the pet deposit:
Will it be refunded at the end of your stay?
Are there any restrictions?
What, if anything, might cancel the refund?
Inside the Hotel
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: Keep It Confined
"If you leave the dog [loose] in the hotel room and you're not there, there's a whole multitude of things that could happen. 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 to keep them entertained." Lisa Peterson, AKC Director of Club Communications and owner, breeder and handler of Norwegian Elkhounds. "
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
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: "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: "You may want to schedule a follow-up vet appointment to make sure your pet didn't catch anything or that it 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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