A Guide to Bringing Pets to Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Key & Pensacola

Every visitor to Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Key, and Pensacola falls instantly in love with the soft sands, crystal-clear waters, and epic sunsets of these Gulf Coast darlings. Bathed by the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, they all share the same natural beauty, breathtaking sea views, and delightful coastal vibe.

Do you know who else will fall in love with these Gulf Coast towns? Your furry companion! The region offers plenty of pet-friendly spots, such as waterfront dog-friendly beaches, scenic dog parks, and several areas for dogs to play off-leash.

However, planning a vacation with your pets can be challenging. Besides ensuring they are welcomed, you must check if the state and cities you’re traveling to require proof of vaccination, a health certificate, and other similar documents. If you’re traveling by plane, you have to review the rules of the airline you’re using and pack all the things your faithful companion might need during your beach vacation.

Uff, too many things, right? But don’t worry. We are here to help you! In this blog, we have put together all the essential information you need to know before traveling to Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Key, and Pensacola with your pet.

Let’s jump right in!

The Essentials: Bringing Your Pet to Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Key & Pensacola from Another State 

Let’s start with the essentials: the paperwork.

When it comes to official documents, here’s what you’ll need:

  1. A recent health certificate (within 30 days) from a vet attesting your pet is in good health and hasn’t been exposed to rabies.

  2. For pets aged three months or older, you’ll need an up-to-date proof of rabies vaccination.

What exactly is a Health Certificate?

It’s basically a form your vet fills out to say your pet is all good and hasn’t been around rabies. Officially, it’s called the Official Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. 

Just keep in mind that the certificate is only valid for 30 days from when the vet signs it.

When do I get the Rabies Vaccination Certificate?

Your vet gives you this certificate when your pet gets vaccinated, and it has all the vaccine information. The health certificate we just mentioned must also include the same vaccine details. 

Does my dog have to wear a collar with a rabies tag in Florida?

In Florida, the law doesn’t require your pets to wear a rabies tag. However, proof of rabies vaccination is mandatory. While vacationing with your pets, whenever you go outside with them, you should carry the vaccination certificate with you.

What if my dog cannot be vaccinated? 

When dogs are too old or sick, they can be exempted from vaccination since it can harm them. In this case, you have to ask your vet for a certificate stating that vaccination would harm your pet.

On this link, you’ll find more exemptions listed by the Florida Department of State. 

What are the requirements for flying with pets?

Every airline usually asks for a health certificate and proof of vaccination — the same documents we just mentioned above. However, you should always check the specific rules of each airline since they may have different requirements when it comes to pets.

Our suggestion is: go to the airline website or contact them directly before buying a ticket so that you can make sure you have all the necessary documents and understand their rules. Also, make sure to inquire about their fees for traveling with pets.

More info on bringing pets into Florida

For more information, you can always contact your veterinarian directly or search for local veterinary offices.

Also, on the official website of the State of Florida, you’ll find updated information about traveling with pets into the state, as well as answers to the most frequently asked questions on this matter.

Extra tip: There are several pet travel agencies that you can hire for their services to assist you with all the bureaucracy involved in traveling with pets, especially if you are planning an international air trip.

General Tips: A Before-You-Go Checklist for Traveling With Pets 

When you’re planning a trip with your pets, you should carefully prepare all you and they need before you go. Your pet’s comfort, safety, and happiness are the number one priority, so here are some extra tips to help you prepare for a stress-free vacation:

Take your companion to see a vet

Before your trip, it’s essential to take your pet to the vet. As mentioned above, you need to carry the right documents when traveling to Florida (Health Certificate and Proof of Vaccination), which you can only get through consultation with your vet.

After making sure your pet is good when it comes to vaccination and is in good shape to travel with you, take some time to chat with your vet and ask for tips on how to make your pet more relaxed during travel. Also, inquire about medication and supplement suggestions to take with you in case your pet needs them.

Finally, take the opportunity to discuss all aspects of your pet’s health, including stress levels, during this one-on-one with a professional. Understanding more about your companion’s needs is crucial. While taking them on vacation with you sounds amazing, in some cases, the best option for their well-being is to stay safe at home under the care of trusted friends, family members, or professional pet sitters — it’s best for them and for you.

Time to pack! What should I put in my pet’s bag?

In addition to proof of vaccination, health certificates, and medications, here are the other things you should consider taking with you when going on a trip with your pet:

  • Your pet’s favorite item: After you, your pet might have something they can’t live without. Is it a blanket? A tennis ball? Or perhaps that toy rope for playing tug-of-war with you? We call these items “comfort items.” They help pets feel less anxious and provide a sense of familiarity in the new place you’re taking them.
  • Happy stroll package: If you’re heading to the Gulf Coast, you’ll definitely want to explore the outdoors with your furry companion. In this case, there are three things you can’t forget: a leash, collar, and ID tag with your pet’s name and your contact information. While there are plenty of places to enjoy with your pet — from beautiful parks to pristine beaches — many of them require pets to be on a leash at all times, so always make sure to bring it along when heading outside.
  • Beauty & Care: The sands and clear waters of the Gulf Coast are irresistible for dogs. They’ll roll, take dips, and play until they run out of energy. After all that action, you want them to look beautiful and clean, right? So, don’t forget to pack grooming items like nail clippers, brushes, and clean-up products. Additionally, it’s a great idea to pack pet’s flea and tick medication — Florida has lots of mosquitos and fleas. You may also want to give your pet heartworm prevention medication since this is a common problem in the southeastern US. 
  • Hitting the loo: Carrying waste bags or a travel litter box is essential when traveling with pets. You’re responsible for managing their waste during the trip, and you should always do so accordingly.

Stay in a comfortable and pet-friendly accommodation

A very important aspect of your vacation is where you’ll stay with your pet. So, make sure to find and book a place with the right amenities to attend to your necessities and your pet’s. Along the Gulf Coast, you’ll find several pet-friendly accommodations. 

At Luxury Coastal Vacations, we have a great selection of pet-friendly rentals on the Gulf Coast, spanning Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Key, and Pensacola.

Extra tip: Train your pets before going on vacation

Is it the first time you’re taking your pet on vacation? If yes, it’s a good idea to train them in advance with pet outings. Take short trips with them in the car or on public transport so that they can start to get used to it.

While you’re training them, keep an eye on their behavior. If they behave well, reward them with treats and praise them when they stay calm. This will make them feel more comfortable and relaxed during the journey.

This is also an opportunity for you to see if your pet gets anxious or if they feel sick on the move. If that’s the case, ask your vet for advice.

Beach-centric Tips for a Wonderful Trip with Your Pets

A big part of the fun when visiting Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Key, and Pensacola is exploring the breathtaking beaches of the region.

So, here are some specific tips for a stress-free beach trip with your pets:

  • Do your pets like the water? Make sure they are comfortable near the water and waves. For example, not all dogs enjoy being on the beach since the environment can be overwhelming for them. But how can you know? You can take your dog to similar environments close to your home, like lakes or ponds. If they feel excited about playing in the water, that’s a signal they might enjoy the beach. However, if they feel anxious and scared about being close to the water, they most likely won’t enjoy being on the beach.
  • If you bring your dog to the beach or parks, it’s smart to use a long 10-foot leash and harness to keep them safe and stop them from dashing off or venturing too far into the water. This setup lets you roam around freely while still keeping them in check.
  • Don’t forget to check the pet policies at specific beaches in advance. Each beach may have specific leash policies and etiquette rules.
  • Dogs are also sensitive to the sun. When you take them to the beach, you should limit their time under the sun and keep an eye on overheating symptoms. Also, don’t forget to apply dog-safe sunscreen on areas like ear tips, nose, and paws. 
  • Bring water bowls, waste bags, towels, and toys to make your pet’s beach time comfortable and safe. 
  • When you get back to your pet-friendly accommodation, give your dog a thorough shower, removing the sand and salt from their body — otherwise, it can damage their coat.

Bringing Pets to Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Key & Pensacola

Too many details, right? But for safe and comfortable travel with your pet is very important to go through every aspect of a pet-friendly vacation.

There’s no mystery, once you make sure your furry companion is comfortable and good enough to go on an adventure, when you see their tails wagging you’ll realize that it’s never too much trouble to ensure you and your furry pal have an unforgettable time together. 

Want more tips on Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Key, Pensacola, and the Gulf Coast of Florida? Then head to our destination blog! We’ve written about a variety of topics, including the top pet-friendly spots, kid-friendly spots, the best places to grab breakfast, and even tips for a perfect beach day. It’s all there, and more content is coming, so stay tuned.

Where to stay during your visit to the Gulf Coast?

Looking for an extra idea to make the most of your weekend on the Gulf Coast? Booking your stay with Luxury Coastal Vacations. We offer the finest selection of luxury rentals on the Gulf Coast, spanning Alabama and Florida.

When you choose to stay in one of our homes or condos, you can anticipate a 5-star experience that you’ll cherish forever. Browse through our options and discover what awaits you on the beautiful Gulf Coast.

Experience the Luxury Coastal Vacation Experience

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