What Does “Pet-Friendly” Hotel Mean?: Policies & Tips

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If you love to travel or have to travel for work, you're familiar with the look your pets give you when you pack your bags. But, of course, every pet parent wants to bring their dog or cat anywhere, so you may wonder, "Are dogs allowed in hotels?" 

In the past, you had two options for traveling as a pet parent: leaving your beloved animal companion at home or bringing them with you and struggling to find a place to stay. Luckily, traveling with pets has become easier because there are tons of pet-friendly hotels to choose from nowadays. Unfortunately, the meaning of "pet-friendly" varies by the establishment, so you should always do your research to ensure you find the best hotel for your furry friend. But what does "pet-friendly hotel" mean, and how do they work? 

What Is A Pet-Friendly Hotel?

 In general, a pet-friendly hotel is one that allows four-legged animals to stay in the rooms with their pet parents. However, other hotels may offer special accommodations for pets, including nearby dog parks, pet-friendly menus, and even kenneling services for when the humans want some time alone. Some pet-friendly hotels may even provide specialized bedding, leashes, collars, and other amenities to help make their stay as enjoyable as possible. Pet-friendly hotels often have higher fees and extra cleaning costs because pets can make a mess or cause damage, but they are still well worth it if you want to take your pet with you when you travel. 

Common Pet-Friendly Hotel Policies

Common policies at pet-friendly hotels

Every pet-friendly hotel is different. If you're wondering, "How do pet-friendly hotels work?" you'll need to understand that it depends on a hotel's definition of what it means to be pet-friendly. As we've mentioned, the definition of a "pet-friendly hotel" varies, so you should always do your research to determine which pet-friendly hotel is best for your furry friend. In addition, they all have rules, but these rules vary depending on the accommodations they offer. Common pet-friendly hotel policies include: 

  • Dogs only, no cats or other pets
  • Dogs kept on a leash when in common areas
  • Cats kept in crates or carriers when in common areas
  • Must not have fleas
  • Proof of vaccinations required
  • Small pets only
  • Fully trained pets only
  • Signing a pet agreement
  • Maximum number of pets allowed
  • Pets only allowed in certain areas

Questions To Ask Before Choosing A Pet-Friendly Hotel 

There are many pet-friendly hotels to choose from, and what's most important is finding a place that will treat your pet as well as they treat their human guests. Common questions to ask before choosing a pet-friendly hotel include: 

  • What kinds of pets are allowed? Some pet-friendly hotels only allow cats or dogs. Always ensure you understand the pet policy before booking your room. If you're unsure or you can't find the information on their website, you can call a hotel and ask. 
  • Are there breed or weight restrictions? Before booking your room, always ensure your pet is allowed to stay at the hotel. While a pet-friendly hotel advertises that they allow dogs, they may not allow all dogs. For example, some hotels may only allow dogs up to a certain weight, while others may have breed restrictions. 
  • How many pets are allowed per room? Some pet-friendly hotels have restrictions on how many pets you can book in your room with you. In most cases, they'll allow one or two pets, depending on breed and type of pet. If you need to bring more than one or two pets, you can ask whether booking a second room with another person will allow you to bring more pets. 
  • Can I leave my pet in my room unattended? Some hotels allow you to have pets in your room, but those pets might not be allowed to stay in the room by themselves because they can experience separation anxiety that can make them destructive or in case housekeeping comes in to tidy the room. 
  • Does housekeeping enter the room when pets are present? Housekeeping typically enters rooms in hotels to clean when you're not there. However, you might not want the cleaning service coming if your pet is in the room because it can give them the opportunity to escape. Some hotels will ask that you leave the room with your pet when housekeeping is present, or you may be able to opt-out of housekeeping throughout your stay. 
  • Are there areas of the hotel that do not allow pets? Many hotels don't allow pets in common areas because it can be dangerous. You never know how a dog is going to react to another person or pet, so they may have restrictions on where a pet can go when off-leash or outside of their carrier. 
  • Are all rooms pet-friendly? Not all rooms in a pet-friendly hotel may be pet-friendly because some guests will prefer to use a room without pet fur, especially if they're allergic. In addition, informing the hotel about your pet before booking can ensure you choose a pet-friendly room and can avoid any issues during check-in. 
  • Is there an additional pet fee? Many pet-friendly hotels charge additional fees because allowing dogs and cats in hotels means more cleaning and the potential for damage. Other hotels may not charge you for at least one pet, but you'll have to pay fees for more than one. 
  • Are there pet-friendly amenities? As we've mentioned, some pet-friendly hotels simply allow cats and dogs. However, others may go above and beyond for pets, offering amenities to improve their stay. A few amenities offered by pet-friendly hotels may include pet beds, walking/potty areas, treats, room service and concierge services, grooming, refilling food and water bowls, litter boxes, etc.

Tips For Staying At A Pet-Friendly Hotel

While staying at a pet-friendly hotel can ensure you can bring your beloved furry friend with you when traveling, you should take extra precautions because dogs and cats can experience anxiety when they're away from home. In addition, you want to keep your pet safe at all times, which may mean keeping them away from other pet guests. Tips to help make your stay at a pet-friendly hotel a little easier include the following: 

Practice Training And Obedience Before Your Trip

Having a well-behaved, trained pet is essential when staying at a pet-friendly hotel. The hotel can and will cancel your room and ask you to leave if your pet becomes a nuisance or danger to the other guests. Therefore, you should try to practice their training and obedience before the trip to ensure they're ready. A few basic commands your dog should know no matter where they include:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Recall
  • Down
  • Heel

In addition, you should have your dog trained to stop barking almost as fast as it's started. When staying in a hotel with a dog, you should try to keep your dog quiet as much as possible, even though barking is your dog's form of communication, so they will bark at some things. However, if your dog has a habit of barking excessively when they see other people or pets, you should work on training them and avoid situations that can cause barking. For example, if your dog barks at cats, you'll want to discuss finding a room away from cats with the receptionist. There are also other ways to manage your dog’s barking. Bringing a white noise machine or a smart speaker with you to the hotel, for example, can help you block out noises that may cause your dog to bark.

Pack Overnight Essentials

A pet-friendly hotel might offer a few pet accommodations and amenities, such as food and water bowls, but they won't have everything you need to ensure your pet's safety. Some pets may not want to use items provided by a hotel since they don't have their scent on them, so it's always better to bring their belongings from home. A few essentials you should never forget include: 

  • Litter box
  • Pet carrier
  • Water and food bowls
  • Leash
  • Collar
  • ID tag
  • Food and treats
  • First aid kit

Pet-friendly hotel overnight essentials checklist

Make The Room As Familiar As Possible

Staying in a new place can be scary for pets, which may cause them to experience fear and aggression or act destructively. Since your pet won't have the same smells they're used to at home and may smell that other pets have spent time in the room, you should try to bring as many of their own items as possible, including litter boxes, water, and food bowls, and comfort items that smell like home such as toys, blankets, and beds. If your pet has a favorite toy, always bring it with you when traveling because playing with it can be comforting. 

Provide Adequate Enrichment

Again, pets can experience stress while spending time in a hotel. Additionally, because they may not have access to the entire area like they do at home, they can easily get bored. Both dogs and cats require adequate enrichment in the form of mental and physical stimulation. 

While traveling with cats may seem slightly easier because they spend most of their time indoors at home and don’t need to go outside for exercise or potty breaks, this is actually a misconception. Cats are much more likely to experience stress when traveling. 

When traveling with dogs, many pet-friendly hotels have dog parks or walking trails nearby where you can walk your dog to help them get their daily exercise. However, some hotels might not be near these areas, so your pet may only have a brief time outside. Therefore, they need exercise in other forms, such as through toys, treats, and exploring the areas where they're allowed to roam. 

Watch For Signs Of Anxiety

New environments can be scary for dogs and cats. The best thing you can do to reduce your pet's anxiety while traveling is to feed them at the same time they'd eat at home. In addition, dogs should go outside for their walks or potty breaks around the same time. Of course, even keeping a routine won't prevent anxiety in pets. Cat and dog anxiety can cause physical and behavioral symptoms, including the following: 

  • Excessive vocalization
  • Pacing and restlessness
  • Aggression and destructive behavior
  • Hiding
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Change in mood
  • Refusing to eat or drink
  • Improper urination or defecation

Common signs of pet anxiety

Anxious cats and dogs should never be left alone. In addition, you should consider your pet's temperament before traveling with them. For example, if your pet is afraid of people and other animals, a pet-friendly hotel might not be the best place for them to stay. However, you shouldn’t need to cancel travel plans just because of your pet. Veterinarians are always happy to help devise a plan to help your anxious pet during your travels.

Minimize Alone Time

Most pet-friendly hotels won't allow you to leave your dog unattended in the room. However, even if they do, you should minimize the time your dog or cat spends alone. Dog anxiety can be triggered by separation, especially in a new environment. In addition, cats can become anxious in new places, especially if they smell like other cats. When leaving your pet alone in your room, you should always inform the front desk and put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door to prevent housekeeping from entering.1 

Pet-Friendly Hotel Chains In The U.S.

There are many pet-friendly hotels in the U.S., but the best thing you can do is look for chains because they'll have more reviews from pet parents to help you decide which one is right for you and your pet. A few options include: 

  • Red Roof Inn
  • Motel 6
  • Best Western
  • Four Seasons
  • Marriott
  • The Ritz-Carlton2

Remember, all pet-friendly hotels have their own pet policies, so it's important to understand the rules and guidelines before booking your stay. Most hotel websites will provide you with more information on the types and number of pets allowed and fees associated with staying with pets. 

Pet-Friendly Hotel: Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to bring a dog to a hotel?

Pet-friendly hotels aim to help pets have a happy and safe stay. However, your pet's safety is your responsibility when staying at a hotel. If your pet is properly crate or carrier trained, keep them in their crate or carrier when possible for their own safety. This is especially important if hotel staff enters your room for cleaning and maintenance. In addition, try not to leave your pets alone in a hotel room if you think they may be uncomfortable.

What are the benefits of pet-friendly hotels?

The most significant benefit of pet-friendly hotels is that they allow loving pet parents to bring their animal companions with them on their travels. In addition, many pet-friendly hotels go above and beyond for pets, offering amenities to improve their stays. They're also affordable, with many hotel chains offering free stays for pets. 

Can dogs sleep on hotel beds?

Some pet-friendly hotels allow pets to sleep on the beds, while others may not allow it. Every hotel's pet policy is different, so you should ensure you understand everything before allowing your pet to jump on the bed. If your pet isn't allowed to sleep on the bed, you can bring a pet bed and blankets from home to give them a soft, comfortable place to sleep. 

Cat in pet carrier in front of a rollaway luggage 

Final Notes

Pet-friendly hotels allow pet parents to bring their furry companions with them on their travels. Many of the top hotel chains in the country offer several pet amenities, including treats, pet food, and nearby dog parks to improve your pet's stay. Of course, all hotels will ask you to provide proof of vaccinations and a clean bill of health from the vet, so you should always take your pet for a checkup and have them treated for any health concerns before traveling since stress could exacerbate their symptoms. 

Wondering how to travel safely with your pet? Contact a Dutch vet today. Our online vet services can help you learn what types of vaccinations you need for your pet before traveling and how you can keep your pet safe while on the road. 



  1. “Traveling with Your Pet Faq.” American Veterinary Medical Association, https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/petcare/traveling-your-pet-faq.

  2. Balfour, Barbara. “Pet-Friendly Hotels in the United States.” American Kennel Club, 7 Mar. 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/a-guide-to-pet-friendly-hotel-chains-in-the-united-states/.

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