When it comes to pet parenting and holiday travel plans, there are two camps that owners fall into: those that bring their four-legged friends everywhere and those that decide it's best for their furry pal to stay behind.
Both choices have pluses and minuses. But either way, before you fa-la-la-la leave, there are certain steps experts recommend to ensure that Fido has a stress-free season as well.
"Pet parents are always mindful of the comfort and well-being of their furry kids, so it makes sense that they would factor them into their travel plans," said TripsWithPets.com founder and president Kim Salerno.
Salerno's sentiments echo the results of a recent, albeit unscientific, online poll conducted by TripIt in which 77 percent of pet owners surveyed said "their pets will influence their holiday travel plans."
But "influence" needn't turn into "control." Instead, experts recommend matching your plans to your pooch's behavior.
"The health and well being of pets should be the primary concern," according to Salerno. "Not every pet makes a good travel companion. Pets who are sick, temperamental, anxious, or poorly socialized are probably best left at home. However, if pets are easygoing, great around people, and cope well with new places and situations—bring them along."
With that in mind, here are a few best practices animal experts suggest you follow if ...
...You can't bear to leave Spot behind.
"First aid kits, medicine, car safety devices and crates are all must-haves when traveling with pets," note the experts at TripsWithPets.
It is equally important to keep important documents, such as current health certificates, on hand. Most airlines require such papers to fly with a pet.
Staying at a pet-friendly hotel? Consider where the room is located on the property and whether any ambient noises will cause your pooch or kitty distress. You may be able to request another space.
If staying with a friend or family member, keep in mind that their house rules for pets may not be the same as you own. When in doubt, always ask whether your pet is allowed on couches, beds and even certain rooms of the house.
...Your furball doesn't do well on the road.
Whether you are having a pet sitter come to your house, home-boarding elsewhere in the neighborhood, or taking your pet to an overnight facility, Nicole Ellis a spokesperson for DogVacay recommends making sure all of their regular care items are available to them and the caretaker.
"Some dogs get an upset stomach if you change their brand of doggie chow, so be sure to have plenty of your dog’s usual food for his stay," Ellis said. "It's also always a good idea to keep more than one leash available -- a short leash and one that has an extendable line for areas where your dog might want to get some exercise."
Ellis also suggests leaving something of your own behind.
"An old t-shirt that smells like you can also make for a great cuddle toy for your dog while you are apart!" she said.