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Travel Nursing With Pets – The Ultimate Guide

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One of the first questions many aspiring travel nurses ask is, “Can I bring my pets?” The simple answer is, YES! Of course, this is a huge relief. Pets offer support and companionship that can make travel nursing a more enjoyable experience. However, pets also add a dynamic rife with challenges. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about travel nursing with pets so you can approach it with confidence.

Travel Nursing with Pets – Documentation and Tracking

First, it’s important to remember that you’ll need to have immediate access to your pet’s documentation whether you travel by plane or car. In that vast majority of cases, you’ll be driving to your travel nursing destinations. There are no “pet checkpoints” when you’re on the road, so it’s easy to overlook the need for documents. Here are some general tips to consider:

  1. Be sure to bring your pet’s rabies certifications. It’s important to note that rabies vaccine requirements vary from state to state, so be sure to check with your destination state in advance.
  2. Take your pet to the vet for a wellness check and to obtain an interstate health certificate. Bring the documentation with you on your travels.
  3. Most airlines require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection issued 10 days before travel.
  4. Bring copies of your pet’s vaccination records.
  5. Get your pet licensed at your tax home if they’re not already. Also, know that licensing requirements vary by jurisdiction, so check with your destination city in advance. It’s often as simple as Googling: City Name pet license.
  6. Bring copies of spay and neuter certifications. Many jurisdictions require proof that pets are spayed or neutered in order to get licensed, so having the certificate can save you time.
  7. Get tags with your cell phone number on them in case your pet gets lost/loose. The cell phone number makes it easier for the average person, who might find your pet, to contact you.
  8. Consider getting a microchip. The microchip will ensure that animal shelters are able to find you should your pet lose their tag and find themselves sheltered.
  9. Make sure that your personal contact information is current for both tags and microchips if you already have them.
  10. Many travel nurses explain that traveling was the impetus for them to obtain pet insurance. It just makes them feel more comfortable given all of the other variables that come along with traveling. There are tons of pet insurance carriers. You can find them by Googling: pet insurance.
  11. Check in with the Veterinarian on all of this. Vets are almost always able to tell you everything you need in terms of documentation and tracking when it comes to traveling with your pet.

Travel Nursing to Hawaii with Pets

Finally, it’s important to note that Hawaii is very strict about bringing animals into the state. Essentially, the islands are free of rabies and they want to keep it that way. As a result, they will quarantine animals for up to 120 days if they don’t meet certain requirements.

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You’ll need to begin prepping at least 4 months prior to visiting Hawaii with your pet.  The pet needs to have 2 rabies vaccinations at least 30 days apart. The second vaccination needs to be administered at least 3 months prior to arriving in Hawaii. The pet must pass a blood test that shows a response to the vaccine at least 4 months before arriving in Hawaii. Finally, you must have your pet microchipped.

Also, as a convenience measure, it’s important to make sure your flight lands in Hawaii at or before 3:30 PM. This is because pet inspection hours are between 8am and 5pm.

Be sure to check this link for updated information and to verify all of the information above is still correct.

Travel Nursing with Pets – Housing

There are several housing related issues to consider when you engage in travel nursing with pets. As always, you’ll have a choice between taking company provided housing or taking the lodging stipend and finding your own housing. First, let’s take a look at some of the issues surrounding company provided housing.

Travel Nursing with Pets – Company Housing

The vast majority of travel nursing companies accommodate pets in their company housing. However, it’s important to remember that the landlord ultimately has the final decision. This means that companies may experience some of the same issues finding suitable housing as an individual doing it on their own.

That said, many travel nursing companies, especially the larger companies, benefit from the long-standing relationships they have with apartment complex operators. As a result, agencies typically have an advantage which makes the process more efficient.

It’s also important to note that different companies maintain different pet-related policies. For example, some companies will pay for pet deposits up front. Others will not. The same holds true for additional fees like “pet rent”. Therefore, it’s important to always ask what’s covered in advance. Additionally, you should always factor these benefits, or lack thereof, into your pay package comparisons. Watch the video below for a detailed breakdown on how to compare travel nursing pay packages.

The Disadvantages of Company Housing with a Pet

While we don’t have any actual data, our experience indicates that the percentage of travel nurses with pets who take company provided housing is higher than it is for travelers without pets. This is primarily because it’s less of a hassle to deal with. All of the work falls on the agency and they have a huge financial incentive to make it work.

However, there are some disadvantages to consider. For example, agencies may not be as flexible as you might like. Agencies often prefer to work with services they have a history with. This can restrict the options available. For example, you might have to settle for housing that is farther from the facility than you’d like.

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Agencies are also less likely to work with options outside the traditional apartment complex system. They don’t want to take the risk. As a result, share rentals with a nice yard for your pet might be out of the question. Additionally, less costly alternatives might be out of the question.

All things considered, many travel nurses contend that it’s much easier to take company housing when you’re travel nursing with pets.

Travel Nursing with Pets – Finding Your Own Housing

With all that in mind, finding your own housing is certainly an option. In fact, it might be the more popular option overall. This is largely due to the flexibility and potential financial advantages. You see, when you take the lodging stipend, you have the option to find housing that costs less than the stipend and pocket the difference tax-free.

With that in mind, there are several issues to consider when travel nursing with pets. First, you’ll be responsible for all housing related costs. In addition to the pet deposit, you’ll need to pay the first month’s rent and the normal security deposit at a minimum. Therefore, you’ll need to have more in savings to account for the additional costs.

Second, many travel nurses find it’s more difficult for them to find short-term housing options that will accommodate their pets. The operative word here is “short-term”. In other words, a landlord willing to accept pets on a one year lease might not accept them on a three month lease or month-to-month lease. But that same landlord might accept pets on a short-term lease if the lease agreement is with the agency. That said, most travel nurses with pets who find their own housing say it’s always possible; it just takes a little more time.

Unconventional Options

Also it’s important to note that many travel nurses have found it most difficult to secure their own pet-friendly lodging in traditional apartment complexes. This is why many travel nurses turn to unconventional options. For example, many travel nurses use Craigslist, AirBnB, VRBO and other services to help them find pet friendly options. However, it’s important to watch out for scams and never send money to someone on Craigslist in advance.

Perhaps one of the best options for finding short-term housing as a travel nurse with pets is FurnishedFinder.com. The website is dedicated to short-term housing and caters to travel nurses. There are many pet friendly options available in certain destinations.

Additionally, you’d be surprised at the number of travel nurses for whom pet issues are the leading factor in their decision to purchase an RV. Of course, RVs are a great way to go if you can afford one. This Facebook Group can help if you’re interested in this option.

Travel Nursing with Pets – Hotels and Extended Stays

Certain hotels are very pet friendly making them another housing option when you’re travel nursing with pets. For example, many travel nurses love La Quinta Inns. We’ve even seen travel nurses mention that pets are allowed to join them for breakfast in the lobby of La Quinta Inns. However, La Quinta’s pet policy prohibits pets from joining you in the hotel cafe/restaurant.

Here is just a small list of hotels that welcome pets:

  1. La Quinta Inns
  2. Motel 6
  3. Extended Stay America
  4. Days Inn (and many other Wyndham properties)
  5. Red Roof Inn

Remember, if you plan on staying in a hotel for longer than 30 days, then you must speak with the property manager or owner to negotiate a long term rate. These hotels will often negotiate rates that are 30% to 60% below the advertised nightly rate when you’re staying for longer than 30 days.

General Housing Considerations when Travel Nursing with Pets

Regardless of whether you choose to find your own housing or take company provided housing, there are general pet related issues that can affect any housing situation. Here are some of the most common:

  1. Many property owners will only accept common domesticated pets like dogs and cats.
  2. Many property owners will not accept large dogs. 40 pounds and 90 pounds are the most common thresholds.
  3. Many property owners limit the number of pets to 2.
  4. Many property owners prohibit “aggressive breeds”.

Given these general considerations, it’s fair to say that travel nursing with a large dog will be a little more difficult than travel nursing with a small dog. Also, travel nursing with a pitbull will be even more difficult as will travel nursing with multiple pets. That said, tons of travel nurses bring their large dogs, pitbulls and multiple pets. It’s definitely doable!

Travel Nursing with Pets – Tips for the Drive or Flight

Another challenge when travel nursing with pets involves the actual act of traveling with the pets! Most pet owners haven’t taken their pets on 10 hour plus drives or flights of any duration. The good news is that there are tons of helpful tips and tools to help you with all the ins and outs.

Tips for Road Trips when Travel Nursing with Pets

The vast majority of travel in travel nursing is done by car. Taking your pets on long road trips can be challenging on many levels. Let’s take a look at each of them.

Seating Your Pet for the Drive

Many travel nurses wonder about the best way to seat their pets. The Humane Society urges pet owners to use carriers or crates to seat their pets in cars. They assert that letting pets roam free in the car could distract the driver and result in an auto accident. They also recommend that the crates and carriers be secured with seat belts.

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The Humane Society also recommends against seating pets in the front seat. Here again, they are worried about driver distractions. They also assert that seating the pet in the front seat opens the door for injuries when airbags are deployed, even if the pet is in a crate or carrier.

Finally, the Humane Society urges pet owners to keep their pets’ heads inside the vehicle at all times. Similarly, they discourage owners from transporting pets in the back of an open pickup truck.

Seating and Safety

It’s important to note that the Humane Society indicates crates and carriers have not been reliably shown to protect pets during an auto accident. However, many others argue that crates secured with a belt are better than nothing. That said, recent research indicates that harnesses may offer the highest level of safety.

The safety issue is quite complex and outside the scope of this article. However, here are a couple of resources for your consideration:

  1. Crash Test Doggies
  2. Keep Your Pet Safe in the Car

Here is a list of carriers and seating options recommended by some of the travel nurses we conferred with:

  1. EliteField Carrier
  2. SturdiBag
  3. Cat-in-a-bag
  4. Ruff Rider Harness
  5. Kurgo Harnesses
  6. Kurgo SkyBox Booster Seat
Letting Your Pet Roam

With all of this mind, our experience indicates that the vast majority of people let their pets roam free during road trips. That said, certain states have laws requiring pet owners to restrain pets in cars. Of course, if you’re travel nursing with pets then there is a good chance you’ll find yourself passing through one of these states. This link provides some of the basic details. Here is a list of states with such laws as of December, 2017:

  1. Connecticut
  2. Hawaii
  3. Maine
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Minnesota
  6. New Hampshire
  7. New Jersey
  8. Rhode Island

Managing Pet Anxiety on Road Trips

No matter how you choose to seat your pet in your vehicle, there’s a possibility they might experience problems with anxiety and/or motion sickness. Many pet owners discover this during their first long road trip. In other words, some pets manage fine during short trips around town, but experience problems after being in the car for an extended period. There are many products and methods aimed at alleviating these problems.

Use Patience to Acclimate

First, many travel nurses state that their pets were anxious for the first several hours of their first long road trip, but eventually got used to it on their own. Others explain that it took a long road trip or two before their pet finally settled in. The point is that you may be able acclimate your pet to long drives by simply being patient with them.

ThunderShirts for Soothing

However, if this doesn’t work for you, then there are many alternatives. One of the most common options recommended by travel nurses is a “Thunder Shirt” or a “Thunder Jacket”. These pet garments are designed to target various pressure points on your pet’s body. It’s similar to swaddling a baby. Here are some options:

  1. ThunderShirt for dogs
  2. Polo ThunderShirt for dogs
  3. ThunderShirt for cats

Users of ThunderShirts report their pets were initially spooked by wearing the garments, but eventually got used them. Once acclimated, the pets were much more comfortable than they were initially.

Medicinal Remedies

Medicinal remedies are another option that many travel nurses rely on to calm their pets during a long drive. Here are some of the options travel nurses reported using:

  1. Vet prescribed phenobarbital.
  2. Vet prescribed Trazadone.
  3. Benadryl
  4. Vet prescribed Xanax
  5. GNC Calming Formula Chews for Cats
  6. Calm Down for Cats
  7. GNC Calming Formula Chews for Dogs
  8. Pheromone Spray for Dogs 
  9. Pheromone Collar for Dogs
  10. A shot of fresh lemon juice to prevent your dog’s nausea. Squeeze a fresh lemon and put it in a syringe to give before the trip.
  11. Pheromone Collar for Cats
Unusual Eating Habits on the Road

Finally, many travel nurses report that their pets exhibit unusual eating habits during long road trips. Many report their pets won’t eat or drink while in the car. Others report their pets won’t eat or drink until they feel settled in for the day/night. Still others report their pets won’t eat or drink for the entire duration of the road trip. One travel nurse reported her cat would go 2 days without eating!

Managing Stops Along the Way

Of course, when you’re on a long road trip with pets, you have to consider how you’re going to manage the pit-stops and overnights. You can find rest-stops and much more using an app called Waze to navigate your trips. Additionally, you can use PetsWelcom.com to find pet friendly hotels along your route. Just go to the website and select the “Search by Route” option. It’s a good idea to call the hotels in advance just to make sure they’re pet friendly and you’re in compliance with their pet policies.

Travel Nursing With Cats Image

During pit-stops, you may encounter challenges managing what to do with your pets while you use the restroom or enter a restaurant. Many travel nurses with keyless cars explain that they’ll leave their pets in the car with the air conditioner running for short periods. We’re sure this is fine, but are compelled to point out that the humane society reminds pet owners the interior temperature of a car can exceed 110 degrees when the external temperature is only 72 degrees.

Finally, if you have a cat, you might be wondering how to let them out of the car during your stops. Many travel nurses with cats recommend the Kitty Holder Cat Harness. It’s a walking vest for cats.

Travel Nursing with Pets: Finding Care on the Road

Once you arrive at your destination, you may need to secure care of all types for your pet. Most nurses work 12 hour shifts which means you could be away from your buddy for 14 hours or more. You might also need to take short trips back home without your pet. And, of course, you may need a veterinarian.

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Many travel nurses recommend PetsMart. They have veterinary services run by Banfield Pet Hospital as well as Pets Hotels and Day Camps. Travel nurses like PetsMart because it provides some level of continuity for them. Everywhere they go, their pets’ records follow them and they know what to expect.

If you prefer to piece these things together, then there are several services that will make things easy. You can visit Veterinarians.com to find vets near you. You can use Rover.com, SitterCity.com and Care.com to find folks who walk or play with your pets and even board them overnight.

Expect to pay around $25 – $50 for overnight stays. We’ve seen some services charging as much as $80 – $100 for overnight stays as well. The rates for sitters and walkers also vary. You’ll find some who charge $10 for a 30 minute visit or walk all the way up to $20 for the same service.

Travel Nursing with Pets: Leaving Them Home During the Long Shift

While walking and sitting services are great, they can get expensive. Unfortunately, leaving a pet in an apartment for 14 hours makes some pet owners feel guilty. It’s easier with cats of course, but dogs typically need to be let out and walked in order to potty. At home, you may have had a support system of friends and family to help out. This is rarely possible on the road.

Rest assured that many travel nurses report their dogs are just fine staying at home for extended periods. One of the most common recommendations is to use a Potty Pad. Yes, this will require a little training if you haven’t used them before. Also, one of the main criticisms is that they get your dog used to going indoors, which could lead to bad habits.

Travel Nursing with Pets: Things to Do and Places to Go

Of course, you’ll be available for your pet the vast majority of the time. And that means finding places to go and things to do. This can be tough when you’re moving to a new city every thirteen weeks. Fortunately, there are several great services to solve the problem.

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You can use DogPark.com to find dog parks in your area. BringFido.com will help you find hotels and restaurants that are dog friendly. Moreover, the site includes tons of different categories like dog parks, camp grounds, hiking trails and other activities. PetsWelcome.com is a similar service well worth checking out.

As always, we hope you found this article useful! We’d love to hear about your experience with this topic and answer any questions you have. Please share in the comments section below. Also, please let us know if there are tips and tricks that we missed so we can improve this article!

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