Q&A: How to Travel Nurse with Pets
As someone who can’t imagine a life without dogs, I also can’t imagine taking on a travel nursing career without my beloved pets. I mean, look at those faces! Meet Cafecito & Mijo.
So the question then becomes: Can you travel nurse with pets? Well, the simple answer is: absolutely. But, the more complicated answer is: There are things you’ll need to prepare for when you’re considering travel nursing with your pets. Here – we get into all of those:
- Pet friendly hotels & pet friendly housing
- Medical & vaccination records
- Keeping your furry friend comfortable
First: Should you travel nurse with pets?
Absolutely yes, 100%, without a doubt, you should travel nurse with your loved one(s). It’s not easy, but it’s so worth it to come home after a long shift and get all the hugs and loves from your pet.
Bonus Points: The comfort of having that familiar face to come home to each day. When everything is brand new (locations, people, hospital policies), seeing that cute face at the beginning and end of each day will be just priceless.
Plus Side for Dog Owners: Dogs will force you to get out of the house and explore your new area a little bit.
It will always be tempting – especially after a row of long shifts – to walk straight from your car and into your bed – never to be seen again for the next 12 hours. But with a big snout nudging your face as you try to lay down, giving you those eyes that say “please take me to the dog park” it will be next to impossible to resist.
Not All Pets: We do not recommend that you travel nurse with pets if your four-legged friend is not good with moving around a lot, gets anxiety when they’re outside of their forever home, or is a senior animal with a lot of health problems.
If this is your case – it’s best to find a close friend or family member to watch your pet while you’re away. If you can’t bear the thought of being away from them for an extended period of time, maybe consider taking a local contract. That way you can reap all the benefits of travel nursing without having to leave them.
Also – it just may not be your personal preference to travel nurse with pets and that is legitimately ok! Here is what one of our RNs, Heather H. had to say:
Second: Pet friendly housing options?
One of the harder things about being a travel nurse with pets is finding housing. It can be challenging at first, especially in more rural areas where there aren’t a lot of housing options available.
If that turns up with nada/zilch, many nurses have found that reaching out to individual hosts and explaining their situation often did the trick. Especially if you offer a reasonable pet deposit or a small pet fee for accommodating your needs.
If you can – pull together a few pet references that will speak to the awesomeness that is your very well-behaved and friendly pet. There’s a lot of love for nurses out there – and many are willing to work with you.
Pro-Tip: Consider including an adorable photo of your furry friend when reaching out to hosts. After all – who can say no to puppy dog eyes?
Third: Should you fly or drive?
Another challenge to being a travel nurse with pets is that airlines have a TON of restrictions for bringing animals on-board. From size to breed, to the fact that they need to stay in their carrier under your seat, to whether they’re trained service animals.
As of today’s writing, most US based airlines do not accept emotional support animals. But there are some international airlines that do. Maybe not so helpful for your domestic travel needs – but could be useful for that next exotic vacation!
Most clinicians that travel with pets – drive. It’s much less stressful for you and your pets – and if you’re traveling to a faraway destination (like from Ohio to California) you can make a trip of it – and hit all the stops on the way. Hello beautiful scenery!
You can find fun places to visit on your little road trip with a website like DogFriendly.com.
If this is your first longer trip with your pet be sure to pack all the extra necessities like beach towels, water bottles, extra food and a carrier if needed.
You’ll also want to pre-plan a little – as finding pet friendly hotels on the road can be a bit tricky. La Quinta Inn & Suites do not charge pet fees or pet deposits and are very budget friendly for quick one-night stops.
If that doesn’t suit your fancy, you can also try TripsWithPets.com which gives a plethora of short-term (and long-term) accommodation options.
Fourth: Are some cities more dog friendly than others?
Yes, of course some cities are way more pet friendly than others. Common thinking would be that locations that are more rural – will have more “nature-like” things to do like hiking trails, huge parks, etc. Which is true. Duh.
There are, however, several large metro areas that are extremely dog friendly. These cities include San Francisco, Denver, Albuquerque, Portland, Sacramento, Chicago & New York City.
You may also be asking yourself – what can I do with my pet on my days off? There are a bunch of websites that offer you plenty of options and pet-friendly activities. Those include SideWalkDog.com, BringFido.com, and PetsWelcome.com.
Fifth: How to take care of your pets while working long shifts?
Probably the hardest part of being a travel nurse with pets is: who’s taking care of your furry beast while you’re working?
Unless you work the night shift, or have an animal that can be left alone for 12+ hours alone with no problems – then you might be asking yourself: “How can I care for my pet when I’m gone 12:00p to 12:00a or 7:00a to 7:00p?”
Have no fear and welcome to 2022 where if there’s a problem – someone has come up with a solution.
Meet Rover.com – a fantastic website (with reviews) full of people in your area that are available for long-term and short term pet care.
Everything from stopping by to feed your cat & change their litter box to staying overnight with your dog and making sure s/he gets all the dog park time.
The site even works for last minute requests – like if you’re asked to stay late – or work an extra shift.
Pro-Tip: If you happen to be on assignment in Kansas City, Missouri drop your doggo off at the Next Move office during normal business hours. Kidding – but we are a little dog obsessed – and we just MIGHT!
In all seriousness: check out Katie’s Kennel, a local, women-owned business in Missouri (KC) & Arizona that offers a variety of pet setting and walking options. Very similar to Rover – but definitely more awesome.
Sixth: How to prepare for the unexpected?
No matter how healthy your pet might be, you’ll always want to make sure you have a copy of their medical & vaccination records, a large supply of any medicines they might need, and make sure they’re microchipped (in case they get lost).
This will all become super helpful in the unfortunate event your pet has an unexpected accident.
True Story: Last month, my little one, Mijo, ate a pot brownie someone had thrown on the ground (who even does that?!) and I was grateful my vet had all my information.
It’s also important that you talk to your primary vet about the locations you’ll be traveling to. They might want to change the monthly regiment of flea/tick/worm pills based on that location. Keeping open lines of communication between you and your vet will also be beneficial in the event you have questions about your pets health while on assignment, or need a referral.
Lastly, make sure to make a list of local vets & emergency vets in the location you’ll be working. You will not want to have to go searching for these things when you’re in the middle of a pet health emergency.
If you don’t trust what you find online – talk to your fellow clinicians and ask for recommendations. Everyone loves to talk about their pets – and it’s also a great ice-breaker. Who knows – maybe you’ll make a friend and so will your fuzzy friend.
Seventh: How to make your *new* home a HOME?
Traveling – no matter how resilient your animal might be – is a little bit stressful.
Your animal might not know what’s happening if you drop them off in a new place, and immediately take off for a 12-hour shift.
So plan accordingly and give you and your pet(s) a day or two to acclimate to your new environment (both indoors & outdoors) and adjust to the new routine.
Bring their favorite toys, and items that give them comfort, such as a blanket, a dog bed, or even an old smelly t-shirt of yours. Your scent and having things that they’re familiar with – will bring them comfort and make them feel like they are at home.
Eight: Returning home – sweet home.
On any assignment, no matter how glorious, you’re going to get a little homesick and miss all the comforts of home. The same goes for your petS. They’ll miss the familiarity (and all the smells) of home as well as the routine.
So make sure to hop right back into your normal routine as soon as you get home.
There’s also no harm in adding in a little something special to that new routine – such as a brand-new bone or squishy toy – as a reward to them for being such “good boys”.
Did we miss any tips?
Have you travel nursed with your furry best friends? Any tips and tricks that we didn’t mention? We’d love to hear them!
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