Traveling With Pets

Traveling With Pets

When planning your summer vacation or a weekend trip, one question pet owners always must ask themselves is "do we take the dog/cat, or not?"

Pros and Cons

While taking your pet along can be fun for both the family and the animal, it can also be restrictive. Stopping at that quaint antique store or interesting sounding museum along the way is out of the question if it means leaving the pets in the car.

Eating out will be limited to fast food takeout or places with outdoor seating where they may not mind if your dog lies under your table.

You also want to consider what is best for the animal. Cats are usually best left at home, though if you are going to be gone for a long time you may prefer to bring them along. One couple we know takes both their dog and cat with them in their fifth-wheel when they go camping.

If your dog or cat does not do well in unfamiliar locations, has separation anxiety, or gets carsick, then boarding or getting a pet sitter is probably the best option.

Plan Ahead for Pet Travel

If you do decide to take the pet, be sure to plan everything in advance. Know ahead of time if places you want to visit allow pets. If not, check out your options for pet care in the area.

There are a number of books, such as Pets On The Go!, that list pet friendly hotels, campgrounds and other destinations. Be sure to verify this information with the accommodation or location, as rules and policies change often. Keep in mind that there is usually a surcharge for pets at hotels and motels.

Check With Vet

If you are going out of state; or hiking or other strenuous activity will be involved, a visit to the vet before going may be in order.

Some states will require proof of rabies vaccinations before entering. Some states may have higher incidence of disease (such as Lyme disease, Heartworm) than your own, your vet will probably be aware of problem areas.

Don''t Forget the Leash

Public places like parks and campgrounds usually have leash laws. It''s a good idea to keep you dog on leash at all times in any case. Not only will it make your dog more welcome by others using the area, but also it is best for his or her safety.

Many a dog has had to be rescued after tumbling down mountainsides while exploring!

Take Pit Stops

You''ll want to stop often during long drives to allow your dog or cat to relieve themselves and stretch their legs. Be sure to put the leash on before opening car doors (cats too!).

Portable drinking bowls are handy to allow the pet some water at these stops. Try not to feed the animal much while driving in order to prevent carsickness.

Pack for Pets

When packing for your trip, don''t forget to pack for your pet as well. Bring collapsible travel dishes, or use inexpensive disposable containers. Bring enough food for the trip, plus a little extra, "just in case".

If you are going somewhere where you won''t want to drink the water, you probably don''t want your pets drinking it either.

If your pet is on medication don''t forget to bring some extra of that as well, with ice packs if necessary. You may want to have a spare prescription and your vet information with you as well.

A first aid kit for pets is handy to have along. And be sure to attach a temporary ID tag to your pets'' collars with phone numbers of where you will be staying.

Bringing your pets bed or a familiar travel bed will help keep him more relaxed and comfortable in motel rooms or in a tent. Some toys will keep him occupied.

Also bring along grooming supplies and "poop bags". Be sure to clean up after your pets wherever you go!

Car Safety

For safety in the car, it is best if the animal travels in a crate or, for dogs, restrained with one of the new pet seatbelts. I must admit, I don''t practice what I preach here, but it is now without a healthy amount of guilt.

If using a crate, be sure that it is restrained. You certainly don''t want that to come flying over the seat in the event of an accident.

For small dogs there are even doggie car seats you can get that allow the dog to look out of the window.

And speaking of windows, I know dogs love to stick their heads out of them (wouldn''t you?), but it is really not a good idea. If you''ve ever held your hand out the window while going 55 miles per hour, you know how if feels when a piece of debris hits you. Unless your dog is wearing goggles, sticking heads out of windows is risky for the eyes.

A Word About Pickups

And never, I repeat, NEVER travel with your dog in the back of a pick-up truck! On short local trips, it might be acceptable if the dog is properly restrained (and this doesn''t mean simply tied on with a rope), but on freeways the dog is subject to the same flying debris mentioned above, not to mention hot sun and possible rain or hail.

Even on side streets there is always the chance the dog may jump or fall out of the truck. Such mishaps don''t often end happily. Keep your dog safe - let him ride in the cab or leave him at home.

With a little (OK, maybe a lot) of advance planning, you and your pets can have a great vacation together anytime.

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