Tips for bringing your pet to someone else’s cottage

Dog on dock

Your pet is a part of your family—so when you go away, it’s natural not to want to leave them behind. Thing is, taking your pet to the cottage, especially if you’re visiting someone else, involves some challenges to make sure everyone is comfortable and safe—Fido included.

First things first—if you’re visiting someone else’s cottage, make very, very sure that bringing your pet along is OK. Animals, like children, take up a lot more room than you expect, quickly turning a cozy cottage into a cramped, confined one. And while you may be used to your pet’s idiosyncrasies—Fluffy’s snoring, or Spot’s habit of licking himself in embarrassing places—your guests may not be so immune. It’s best for everyone to determine the pet policy beforehand.

If you do bring your pet with you, follow these tips to keep your hosts happy and your animal amiable.

Make the drive easy

Chances are, going to the cottage will involve a long car trip. Some animals take car rides in stride, others are nervous wrecks. Try feeding your pet at least four hours before the trip to avoid car sickness, and stop every couple of hours for a pee break (bring a litter box for cats). Make sure your pet is in a carrier or in a safety harness while the car is moving. These little steps will help your pet arrive at the cottage as relaxed as possible—which will make the rest of the visit go smoother.

Come prepared

Add pet paraphernalia to your packing list: food, treats, proof of vaccination, favourite toys, bedding and food dishes, leashes, and cleaning supplies. You may not have access to a pet store while you’re at the cottage, so make sure you bring more than you think you need.

Maintain a routine

Your pet is a creature of habit, and changes to their routine can throw even the most placid pooch. To make things more familiar, keep feeding and walking times the same as they’d be at home. Try and feed your pet the same food they’d get at home—but don’t worry too much if your hosts give them an occasional treat. Also, try not to leave your pet alone in the cottage, especially for the first few days—an unfamiliar space can stress them out, leading to inappropriate behaviour like chewing or making a mess.

Be safe

No one wants to make an emergency trip to the vet, so make sure your pet has a lifejacket if you take them on the boat, remove snag-able chain training or slip collars before they go swimming, and don’t let family animals run loose. Keep tags on at all times, just in case your pet escapes into the great outdoors. To prevent heatstroke, make sure animals have a regular supply of fresh water and a source of shade when they’re outside. Brushing up on animal first aid wouldn’t hurt, either—with your pet in a new environment, the chances for injury increase. Make sure you know how to remove a porcupine quill or deal with skunk spray.

Above all, be considerate—scoop poop, sweep as often as necessary and keep your pet off the furniture. You’ll ensure that you and your family animal will receive a repeat invitation.