Bunny’s bags are packed and it’s time to hop away on vacation, but who will watch your rabbit while you’re gone? Bringing your rabbit along can be an adventure, but traveling with rabbits requires careful preparation. Should your rabbit stay or go? What are the best options to keep your bunny happy, healthy, and stress-free when you’re on the move? From pet sitters to boarding to hitting the road together, read on to learn expert tips to smooth travels for you and your furry friend. We cover all you need to know so your next trip is fun for the whole herd!
Pet sitter or house sitter
When going on vacation, you'll need to make arrangements for someone to care for your rabbit while you're away. Two common options are using a pet sitter who comes to your home or having a house sitter stay at your home. Here are considerations around pet sitters and house sitters when traveling with a rabbit:
A pet sitter is someone you hire specifically to care for your pets. They will come to your home once or twice a day to feed your rabbit, change water, clean litter boxes, and spend some time playing with or interacting with your bunny. Pet sitters are experienced in caring for animals and have often received some training. Make sure to find one who has specific experience with rabbits, as they have unique care needs compared to dogs or cats. Discuss your rabbit's daily routine and special needs so the sitter can stick to their normal schedule. Give detailed instructions on the amount and type of food to provide and any medications needed. Show the sitter where supplies like litter, hay, and toys are kept. Let them know of any behavioral quirks or health issues to look out for. Provide emergency contact info for your vet in case your rabbit becomes ill or injured. Make sure the sitter will be caring for your rabbit the entire time you're away – you don't want multiple strangers going in and out of your home while you're not there. Pet sitters usually charge a per-visit fee, so costs go up the longer you're away. Key advantages to a pet sitter are that your rabbit stays home in a familiar environment. A good pet sitter also provides exercise and companionship. The main disadvantage is the higher cost for longer trips. You also need to fully trust the person coming into your home.
A house sitter arrangement means having someone stay in your home full-time to care for your pets. Choose someone reliable who has experience with rabbits. Discuss your rabbit's care needs and give detailed instructions to follow your normal routine. A house sitter allows your rabbit to stay at home without strangers coming in and out. Your home is also occupied which can deter break-ins. House sitters often do the job in exchange for free accommodations, so it can be more affordable than a pet sitter for longer trips. Make sure the house sitter will be diligently caring for your rabbit – not just staying at your home rent-free! Disadvantages are you may feel less comfortable having someone stay unattended in your home for days. You also need to fully trust them. Leaving someone a list of care instructions is still less hands-on than demonstrated care from a professional pet sitter experienced with rabbits.
Give your sitter all the information they need
If using a pet sitter or house sitter while traveling with your rabbit, be sure to provide them with all necessary information. Here are advices on what information to leave for your rabbit sitter:
First, introduce your rabbit to the sitter before you leave so they can get to know each other. Give the sitter a detailed schedule for caring for your bunny including when to feed them, how much to feed, and any medications that need to be given. Specify the amount and type of vegetables and fruits your rabbit can eat for treats. Give clear instructions on litter box cleaning and how often your rabbit's areas need to be vacuumed or cleaned. Provide information on your rabbit's normal behavior patterns – how active they usually are, when they typically sleep, how much affection they tend to seek. Note any signs that could indicate your rabbit is stressed, afraid, or ill. Give your cell phone number and contact information for your veterinarian in case the sitter has any questions or concerns about your rabbit's health and well-being.
Provide the sitter with emergency contact information for yourself, close friends or family, your vet, and nearest emergency vet clinic. Leave the number for poison control in case your rabbit accidentally ingests something harmful. Give them a list of local rabbit supply stores in case they run out of food, litter, or other essentials. Provide detailed information on your rabbit's diet – what hay, pellets, and vegetables they can eat, how much per day, and where supplies are located. Note which treats and fruits to avoid. Show the sitter where grooming supplies like brushes, nail clippers, and styptic powder are kept in case nail trimming is needed. Offer suggestions for toys to keep your rabbit engaged and active while you're away. Provide info on your rabbit's living area, play area, litter boxes, food and water dishes, and sleeping/hiding areas so their environment is kept consistent. Leaving all this detailed info will help ensure your rabbit is properly cared for in your absence!
Pros and cons of using a pet sitter
Deciding between a pet sitter and boarding facility when traveling with your rabbit? Here are the key pros and cons of choosing a pet sitter to care for your bunny:
- Your rabbit stays in the comfort of their familiar home environment which reduces stress.
- A good pet sitter provides companionship and interacts with your rabbit.
- Your rabbit gets to stick to their normal routine and eating schedule.
- You don't have to transport your rabbit to and from a boarding facility.
- There is no risk of your rabbit picking up illnesses from other animals at a boarding facility.
- Pet sitters are often knowledgeable about rabbit behavior and health needs.
- You can give very detailed, customized care instructions to the sitter.
- Some pet sitters will send you photo updates of your rabbit while you're away.
- Pet sitting is usually more expensive than boarding, especially for long trips.
- You need to fully trust someone coming into your home unattended.
- Your rabbit has to adjust to a new person caring for them.
- If last minute sitter issues arise, you may need to scramble for backup care.
- Your rabbit does not have 24/7 supervision and socialization like at a boarding facility.
- Some pet sitters have limited rabbit experience, so research their expertise.
- If your rabbit has health issues, full-time boarding facility supervision may be safer.
Look for an experienced, well-recommended rabbit pet sitter for stress-free care while you're away. But also consider the pros and cons relative to your specific rabbit's needs and situation.
For some pet owners, boarding their rabbit at a specialty facility is the best option when traveling. Here are rabbit boarding facilities and what to look for:
Rabbit boarding facilities care for your bunny in a protected, supervised environment while you travel. The best facilities cater exclusively to rabbits – not dogs or cats. Look for a clean, well-ventilated facility that addresses issues like noise control, appropriate lighting, and rabbit stress reduction. See if they have separate rooms or partitioned spaces for each rabbit to reduce territorial issues. Ask about their rabbit-savvy veterinary care – some facilities have a vet on staff or an agreement with a nearby clinic.
Check that the staff is trained specifically in rabbit care. Are they knowledgeable about diet, litter training, health issues, handling techniques, and rabbit behavior? Look for ample staffing to ensure each rabbit gets sufficient time and attention. See how much "out time" rabbits get in exercise pens versus being confined to cages. Make sure the facility uses proper rabbit restraint techniques to avoid injury.
Ask what food and treats they provide and if you can bring your rabbit's normal diet to reduce tummy issues. See the sleeping accommodations – look for clean housing with comfy bedding. Check for enrichment – do they provide safe toys, activities, and interaction to prevent boredom and stress? How do they handle issues like bonding and behavior problems?
A good facility should have an intake process to get info on your rabbit's needs. Make sure they provide updates while you're away. The best boarding facilities feel like your bunny is on a relaxing vacation staycation! But do your homework to find the right place for your rabbit.
Check the boarding place first
Before entrusting your rabbit to a boarding facility when traveling, be sure to personally check out the facility ahead of time. Here are tips on things to look for when touring a potential rabbit boarding place:
Visit the facility in person to carefully scrutinize the premises. Look for cleanliness – are the housing units, exercise areas, and feeding stations free of dirt, odor, and waste? Assess ventilation and air quality – does it smell fresh, or stuffy and ammonia-laden? Observe the staff interacting with rabbits – do they seem competent, patient, and caring? Watch for signs of stress in the boarded bunnies – lack of appetite, over-grooming, pacing, aggression. Ask how staff are trained in safe rabbit handling and care.
Request a trial overnight stay for your rabbit before your trip. See how they acclimate and if they have adequate space, comfortable bedding, and appropriate feeding. Get a sense for how much human interaction and exercise time rabbits receive. Check that your instructions are followed accurately. Tour the grounds – some facilities offer outdoor time in secure, fenced play yards.
Talk to staff about emergency protocols – how are sick rabbits isolated and treated? What emergency vet clinic do they use? Look for good communication – will they send you photo updates while you're away? Do they have an open door policy if you want to call and check on your rabbit?
The impression the facility makes in-person is just as important as policies on paper. Visit more than one facility, compare, and trust your gut. Ensuring your rabbit is secure and comfortable is essential for you both to enjoy a stress-free trip.
Pros and cons of boarding your rabbit
Traveling out of town? Here are the key pros and cons of using a boarding facility for your rabbit versus pet sitter care at home:
- Your rabbit is supervised 24/7 by staff trained in rabbit care.
- Facilities have protocols in place for emergencies and vet care.
- Social interaction and activity with staff and other rabbits.
- No worry about pet sitter reliability for longer trips.
- Usually less expensive than a private pet sitter.
- No need to impose on friends/family to rabbit sit.
- Exposure to more health/disease risks from other rabbits.
- Stress due to unfamiliar environment and disruption in normal routine.
- Cage confinement – less freedom and exercise than at home.
- Group housing with other rabbits can lead to conflicts.
- Lower level of customized care compared to in-home sitter.
- Some facilities have noisy, stressful environments.
- Staff has divided attention between multiple bunnies.
Look for a high-quality facility with an impeccable track record. Visit beforehand to evaluate. For elderly, anxious, or special needs rabbits, in-home sitter care may still be less stressful. Know your rabbit's temperament and needs to choose between the boarding pros and cons. Their health and wellbeing should guide your decision.
Take your rabbit with you
Considering bringing your rabbit along instead of boarding or pet sitters? Here are the factors to weigh when deciding whether to bring your bunny on vacation:
Traveling with your rabbit lets you personally supervise their care and reduces stress from separating. But hopping in the car or plane with a bunny takes careful planning. First assess your rabbit's temperament – are they comfortable confined to a carrier? Does your rabbit stay calm away from home or get anxious? A hardy, laid-back rabbit will travel better than a skittish one prone to stress.
Factor in health – is your rabbit elderly, disabled, or have conditions aggravated by travel? Are they up-to-date on vet checks and immunizations? Bring along any medications they take. Also consider your destination – is it rabbit-friendly? Are there hazards or climate extremes? Is lodging amenable to rabbits? Some hotels prohibit pets. Never leave your rabbit unattended in a strange place.
Prepare for bathroom breaks every few hours. Bring food from home to avoid tummy trouble. Make sure your mode of transportation and lodging accommodate a rabbit carrier comfortably. Have a backup boarding facility or sitter option lined up in case bringing your rabbit doesn't work out. With the right rabbit and travel precautions, bringing them along can be rewarding. But know the logistical challenges before committing to avoid a stressful experience.
When traveling by car or plane with your rabbit, having the right carrier is key. Selecting and using a carrier for a traveling bunny:
Choose an approved airline carrier if flying, otherwise seek a sturdy, secure carrier that contains your rabbit without allowing escape. Hard-sided plastic or fiberglass carriers are ideal for protecting your bunny. Ensure it's large enough for them to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. Remove any interior wires or grids that could hurt feet or legs. Line the bottom with absorbent puppy pads and provide comfy fleece bedding.
Train your rabbit ahead of time to spend short periods in their carrier with positive reinforcement. Never force them suddenly into an unfamiliar carrier – they may struggle and hurt themselves. Place some hay and a few pellets inside to make it appealing. For longer trips, attach a water bottle to provide hydration. Ensure adequate ventilation but prevent drafts.
Use zip ties to securely fasten cage doors and prevent clever escape artists! Label your carrier clearly on the outside and attach current ID. Attach "Live Animal" stickers too. Seat belt your rabbit's carrier securely. Stop every 2-4 hours to offer water and let them move around. Never leave them unattended in a hot or cold car.
Monitor for signs of stress like rapid breathing or excess heat. Keep carrier covered to provide security. Avoid lifting by sensitive ears or legs. With calm acclimation and the right gear, your rabbit can hop happily along on family vacations for years to come. A cozy, comfy carrier is the key to safe, smooth travels together.
If driving with your rabbit, follow these tips on ensuring a smooth, stress-free journey:
- Get your rabbit acclimated to their travel carrier gradually. Offer treats inside and build up time spent inside.
- Carrier should be just large enough for them to stand, turn around, lie down. Remove interior wires.
- Line carrier bottom with absorbent pads and comfy fleece bedding.
- Attach water and food bowls. Provide hay and a few favorite snacks.
- Use zip ties to securely fasten cage doors and prevent escapes!
- Place a sheet over carrier to provide a sense of security.
- Use carrier seat belts or tie-downs to prevent sliding and tipping.
- Make frequent stops every 2-4 hours for bathroom breaks, food, water refills.
- Never leave your rabbit alone in the car – temperature can rise quickly.
- Keep AC on and avoid direct drafts on your rabbit's carrier.
- Check often for signs of stress – rapid breathing, excess heat.
- Bring a clean-up kit in case of bathroom accidents.
- Bring familiar food to avoid digestive issues from sudden diet changes.
- Know vet clinic locations in case your rabbit needs medical attention.
- Stay at pet-friendly lodging along your route. Never leave in car overnight.
- Allow time for exercise and interaction at stops – don't keep confined too long.
- Bring toys or chews to provide distraction and comfort.
- Keep your rabbit's needs at the top of mind and your drive will go smoothly.
Items you should bring with you
When hitting the road with your rabbit, be sure to pack all essential supplies. Here are the list of important items to bring:
Food and treats: Bring ample hay, pellets, and vegetables your rabbit normally eats to avoid tummy trouble from sudden diet changes
Water and food bowls: Pack collapsible bowls for food and water replenishment during travel
Carrier and cushions: A secure, well-ventilated carrier lined with comfy fleece bedding
Litter box and litter: Bring a small litter box and ample litter for breaks
Cleanup supplies: Paper towels, waste bags, disinfectant, stain/odor remover for any accidents
First aid kit: Styptic powder to stop bleeding if nails are clipped too short, antibiotic ointment for minor wounds, baby gas drops or simethicone in case of gas pain
Grooming tools: Nail clippers, brush, comb, shampoo, and other grooming supplies
Safety gear: Barrier fencing or exercise pens to keep your rabbit safely confined in lodging
Medications: Any prescription medications, probiotics, or supplements your rabbit normally takes
Identification: An ID tag on your rabbit's collar plus contact info written directly on the carrier
Immunization records: Proof of current rabies and RHDV2 vaccinations
Directory: List of emergency vet clinics and 24-hour animal hospitals along your route
Distractions: Favorite chew toys or other objects that comfort your rabbit during travel
Being prepared and packing all essentials will help ensure your rabbit stays happy, healthy, and comfy during travels near and far!
When traveling by air with your rabbit, follow these tips for safe, smooth flights:
- Choose direct flights to avoid layovers and reduce time in carrier.
- Ensure carrier conforms to airline guidelines – leak-proof bottom, secure doors.
- Attach food and water bowls inside and provide hay. No pellets to avoid messes.
- Line carrier bottom with absorbent pads and add soft, comfy bedding.
- Label carrier clearly, cover partway to feel secure, avoid drafts.
- Attach zip ties, clips, or ties to securely fasten cage doors.
- Book a direct, nonstop flight. Avoid hot tarmacs and weather extremes.
- Attach "Live Animal" stickers and official ID to carrier.
- Freeze water bottles to tuck in for cooling if needed.
- Time food prior to flight and avoid before takeoff and landing.
- Request to pre-board to allow time to get situated.
- Seat belt carrier securely or hold on lap if small enough.
- Never store in overhead bin – only under seat in cabin.
- Check often for signs of stress like rapid breathing or overheating.