Traveling with Your Pets in the Summer

Summertime is a great time to take a much needed family vacation. But as you’re carefully planning all the details of your next getaway, ask yourself if you’ve planned just as carefully for your pets. If you don’t know anyone who is willing to take care of your pet while you’re away and don’t want to pay to have them boarded, you may not have a choice but to take your faithful companion on the road with you. As such, there are definitely some things you should know to ensure a safe and happy journey for all of you.

Health and safety
Before you hit the road with your pet, make sure that all of their shots are up to date. You should also obtain a health certificate and a rabies certificate from your veterinarian to attest that your pet is healthy and that all of their vaccinations are current. Don’t forget to bring along your vet’s number in case of emergency. They will be able to fax any needed medical records should your animal need to see a different vet while you’re away. If your pet is prone to car or airsickness you may also want to discuss medication options with your vet before you leave. Never administer any medication to your animal until you have discussed it with your vet first. You should also make sure to bring along a current photograph of your pet and make sure they’re wearing a proper ID tag with all of your contact information. Ideally, put your cell phone number on the tag to make sure you can always be reached should your animal get lost.

If you’re traveling by car, especially in the hot weather, never leave your animal unattended. Keep this in mind if you have to stop for meals before you reach your destination. Leaving a pet a pet in a car is not only an invitation for someone to snatch them, but it can also become a potentially fatal situation should your animal overheat. Temperatures can soar to over 100 degrees inside a car–even if you’re parked in the shade with the windows rolled down slightly. If you’re traveling alone and have no choice but to leave your pet unattended while you use the rest room, for example, consider bringing two sets of keys. This way you can keep the car running with the air conditioner on and still lock your car at the same time. If you do opt to do this, however, just make sure to park in a secure area and make your time away from your animal as brief as possible.

Using a carrier
Crates or carriers are a necessary inconvenience for your pet if traveling by plane, but they’re also a good idea if traveling by car. When driving a car, a free roaming cat or dog can be not only distracting, but also potentially dangerous. You don’t want to be driving down the highway at 70 miles an hour when your playful kitty decides to jump up on your shoulder. If your animal objects to a carrier, consider doing a few “trial runs” before your actual trip. This gives your pet ample time to get used to its temporary new surroundings. Try putting a favorite toy or blanket inside the carrier to make your pet feel more at home. If your animal is too big for a carrier there are seat belt harnesses specifically made for animals that are available. Another option is keeping them secured in the back of a station wagon or SUV with a gate. Just remember that if you are driving a pick-up truck, it is never a safe option to place them loose in the back of your vehicle EVER!

Food and water
When traveling by car with your pet, make sure to bring along at least a gallon of water. Not only does this give your pet a much needed drink, but it also ensures your pet won’t get diarrhea along the way–a common occurrence when animals drink unfamiliar water. As your water supply gets low you can incorporate new water, to slowly get your animal’s digestive systems used to it’s new drinking water. You should also avoid giving your animal too much food as this increases the possibility of throwing upâÂ?¦not the best way to start a fun filled vacation. Ideally, feed your animal at night before you take off and avoid giving them any food until your car ride is over. This also applies if traveling by airplane. Keep food and water out of your animals crate until you have reached your final destination. In the event your animal does get sick while traveling, make sure to bring along plenty of paper towels and a good disinfectant to clean up any messes along the way. Also, don’t forget to pack your dog’s food dish, an adequate supply of food and treats, and a can opener if your pet eats canned food.

Potty breaks
Again when traveling by car, make sure to stop frequently to give your animal a chance to “use the facilities”. Make sure to put a leash on your pet, whether it’s a cat or a dog, as animals can act unexpectedly in unfamiliar situations. This also gives your pet a much needed opportunity to run around and get some exercise before you’re back on the road again. When traveling with your animal you should expect to take a break from driving every two hours or so. Most highway rest stops have some sort of grassy area where your animal can run around for awhile, but do yourself a favor and do some pre-planning so you know of some good places to stop along the way.

Air travel considerations
Make sure you are well aware of your airline’s rules and regulations regarding air travel. If your pet is small enough, some airlines will allow you to bring the animal with you on board in a carrier that you can stow under your seat. For larger animals, however, they will have to be placed below the passenger cabin with the rest of the luggage. Just make sure you know exactly what your particular airline’s guidelines are. You should also consider booking a direct flight to avoid any sort of confusion with switching planes. If this isn’t possible then you should expect to claim your pet after your first flight and recheck them with a 2nd carrier for your next flight. If there should be any mix-ups and you get separated from your animal, you should also tape a note to the animal’s carrier stating what its name is, when they were last fed, any medication needs they might have, and of course, all of your contact information.

Where to stay
When staying with friends or family, obviously call ahead to make sure it’s okay to bring your pet. Not everyone is an animal lover and they might not be okay with having pets in their house, especially if there are allergy or asthma considerations. If you’re not staying with friends or family, research the Internet or contact your local AAA or travel agent to see which hotels accept animals and make your reservations well in advance. Many major chains will offer pet friendly accommodations but may charge you a security deposit should there be any damage while you’re staying there. Also, make sure to bring along some old sheets and towels, just for your pet to use. Do not use the motel’s supply, that’s not what they’re there for.

It’s fun to get away, and even your furry faithful companions deserve a vacation once in awhile. As long as you do plenty of planning, your summer vacation should be a good time for everyone.

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