Pet-Friendly Travel Nursing | Assignments with Your Companion

For many people, working as a travel nurse is an exciting prospect, but if you have pets, you may agonize over whether you should leave them behind or bring them along on your adventure. Specialties Travel Article

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Pet-Friendly Travel Nursing | Assignments with Your Companion

For many people, working as a travel nurse is an exciting prospect, but if you have pets, you may agonize over whether you should leave them behind or bring them along on your adventure. Worry no more -- in this article, we will look closer at the world of travel nursing with cats and dogs, including the benefits, challenges, and tips for making the most of this unique lifestyle. 

Benefits of Travel Nursing with Pets 

Travel nursing with pets can bring many benefits to both you and your furry companion. Some of the key advantages include the following:

If you have a pet, you're likely already aware of the emotional support and companionship they provide. Is there a better way to come home from a stressful shift than to your dog wagging its tale or your cat meowing, ready to sit in your lap? 

In addition to emotional benefits, travel nursing with pets can also push you to go outside for a walk or a hike you otherwise wouldn't take. Exploring new places with your pet encourages you to engage in physical activities, which benefit your and your pet's physical and emotional health.

Our furry friends can serve as an icebreaker and a way to connect with people, especially when you take your animal to pet-friendly places like dog parks, beaches, or even out to eat. The increased social interaction can further help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation that can come with travel nursing. You may even make new friends through these exchanges. 


Layla enjoying another travel nursing assignment!

What Do you Need Before Travel Nursing with Pets?

  • Wellness check: Get your animal companion into your local vet before hitting the road to ensure they are in good health and ready for the trip. Your veterinarian will be able to inform you of additional considerations for different areas of the country, like what diseases are more common. 
  •  Vaccinations: Your local vet will also ensure your dog or cat is up to date on all their vaccinations and disease prevention measures before you hit the road. Make sure to bring a copy of these records with you, especially your fur babies' rabies certification. 
  • Medications: Plan with your veterinarian in advance to prescribe enough medication for the length of your travel nurse contract. Alternatively, you can arrange for them to send the prescription to a pharmacy or veterinarian near your temporary assignment. 
  • Pet identification: Microchip or tags with your pet's name, your name, phone number, and address. No one wants to lose their pets, but being in a new location may trigger stress and anxiety for some animals, causing them to act out or run away.
  • Bowls: Seem like a no-brainer but bring extra. After a long day of driving, I have left bowls at rest areas, had to feed my dog off the ground, and had to create a makeshift water bowl on the spot. Since we have learned and now travel with her regular bowls in addition to two or three extra travel bowls. 
  • Pet carrier or crate: It is recommended to crate your animal while driving for safety. My dog Layla has been taking road trips since she was only a few months and is so well-behaved that I never crated her on the road, but having her crate with her in new surroundings gives her a sense of comfort of home because that is her safe space. Car crashes are a concern for our furry friends, so if you don't crate your dog or cat on the road, consider getting a dog seat belt to keep your pet safe. Some states even make this mandatory. 
  • Bedding and Toys: Traveling can be stressful for our pets, and bringing a piece of home and comfort can ease these symptoms. 
  • Harness and leash: Even if your dog or cat is used to roaming off-leash, some states have a leash law, so bring one.

For the Road

Anyone who has traveled with their furry companion understands that the biggest challenge of traveling with your pet is finding temporary housing. Fortunately, there are many resources and different ways to make this work. 

Most temporary housing sites offer a pet-friendly filter when looking for a short-term lease. 

Some of the best pet-friendly temporary housing options include: 

  • Furnished Finder 
  • Extended Stay America
  • Craigslist
  • Airbnb

If you cannot find a pet-friendly housing accommodation, expressing interest and explaining your situation to the homeowner or realtor renting the space is worth it. 

My dog and I are three for three in obtaining housing that was initially listed as no pets, and she is a large breed dog that weighs over 50 pounds. The most significant help was confidently saying that she is well-behaved, has been managing 12-hour shifts since she was two, and agreeing to a non-refundable pet deposit of $500.00. Bringing her is worth every penny of those deposits. 

Please don't lie about your dog or cat's behavior; this can ruin opportunities for other travelers. 

Does Agency Housing Allow Pets? 

Medical solutions and American Traveler both advertise as dog-friendly healthcare staffing agencies that support and assist you in finding homes for you and your animal companion. If you know you want to travel with your pet and don't want to worry about finding housing; these are two good companies to start with. 

Road trip Overnight Stays with Pets

I have discovered that some regions of the country are more pet friendly than others. If you are planning a cross-country road trip, identify and plan your overnight stays ahead of time. More than once, my dog and I searched for a pet-friendly hotel in the middle of the night. 

When in doubt, Motel 6 and Red Roof are entirely pet friendly at all locations, although Red Roof does have weight restrictions of 40 to 80 pounds, depending on the location. Motel 6 has no weight restriction and no fees for your furry friends.  Many other great hotel options offer pet accommodations, but these are the only two that allow pets in all locations. 

If the weather allows, camping is always a great option too! 

Travel Nurse Location Considerations with your Pet 

When choosing your travel nurse assignment, do some research before you pick where you want to go. I always wanted to take a travel nurse contract in Hawaii but opted out due to the strict quarantine regulations and certification requirements to bring an animal onto the islands. Here is a great resource to check animal travel requirements by state.   

Managing 12-hour Shifts with your Pet on Assignment

One of the last considerations in bringing your furry best friend on your travel assignment is how they do on your 12-hour shifts. My tricks for my dog during long shifts are nature shows, treat puzzles for entertainment, and potty pads by the door for emergencies. Other options for your dog during your 12-hour shift include doggy daycare, a dog walking service, a dog sitter, or traveling with a friend. Rover is a great resource offering these services nationwide for dogs and cats. 

Most recently, my dog Layla and I took an assignment with a nurse friend who worked the opposite shift, always giving her company.  This was great for us because Layla is now 14 years old and no longer does so well alone for long periods. For all the cat people out there, you are fortunate not to have to worry about this aspect.  

Pet Vet on Assignment

When you get to the new city, take the time to find a pet store and backup vet just in case. While they aren't my favorite, working with Banfield, located in Pet Smart, is very handy because they have locations all over the country.  Banfield can easily access all of my dogs' medical records from any location. It's best to plan ahead and know where to take your pet in case of an emergency or last-minute veterinary need. 

Traveling Pet Tips 

One of the best parts about travel nursing is exploring the country and all it has to offer. Traveling with your animal requires careful consideration, and it's necessary to keep in mind that not all state or national parks are pet friendly. Therefore, it's crucial to investigate the park's pet policy beforehand when planning your road trip. 

You don't want to plan an entire trip to find out you can't go somewhere. I was so excited to explore Yellowstone on my first cross-country trip with my fur baby, only to discover that she could only go on a few main trails – our 3-day Yellowstone adventure quickly turned into an overnight affair. 

One of my favorite pet-friendly resources is Bring Fido; they offer a one-stop resource for pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, activities, airlines, and more. 

Our animals feed off our anxiety and stress, so if you are wondering why your dog or cat is acting differently, it is good practice to check in with yourself to evaluate if they are feeding off of your energy. Traveling can be stressful, but having a laid-back approach and knowing everything will work out is especially important when we bring our pets on the road. In addition to CBD or anxiety medications, keeping a routine at your new assignment can help reduce your pet's anxiety and stress. 

Bringing your fur baby along for your travel nurse adventure may not be the best option for some people and pets. You will need to evaluate and decide this for you and your animal. 

Not taking my dog was never even an option. She has always been super good about hitting the road and showing up in a new home because she has traveled all over the country since she was a young pup -- Layla loves exploring new areas and meeting new people, maybe even more than me.  

Travel nursing with pets provides many benefits, including reduced stress and loneliness, the drive to get outside and be active, and increased social interaction. By taking your fur baby along for your adventure, you can make the most of your travel nursing experience and create lasting memories together.


  1. News in Health (2018, February).  The Power of Pets Health Benefits of Human-Animal Interactions
  2. Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (2020, May 1st).  Shareable Infographic: Top 5 Mental Health Benefits of pets
  3. Pet Health Network  Diseases near you
  4. Orvis News (2021, July 30th). Does Your State Require Dogs Be Harnessed in the Car?
  5. Animal Legal & Historical Center Table of State Leash Laws
  6. USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (2022, August 11th). Taking a pet from one U.S. State/Territory to another U.S. State/Territory
(Editorial Team / Admin)

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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