Traveling With Pets

Now that summer is in full swing, many travelers are considering whether to board pets while they’re gone, or take them along.  A recent AAA survey found that 51% of pet owners would travel with pets on every vacation if it was convenient to do so.  Traveling with your pet can be a wonderful experience or a very unpleasant one.  The key is proper planning and preparation.  What makes traveling with your dogs and cats so difficult, and how can you make it easier?  Since most pets seem to enjoy travel, these tips should help ensure that you and your pets have a happy vacation.

If you’re driving to your destination, you must make sure that your pet is properly restrained while in the vehicle.  Whether placed in a carrier or pet seat, it is critical that your pet doesn’t roam around while the vehicle is moving.  Not only is it unsafe for your pet, but it can be distracting to the driver as well.  Another main concern will be finding a pet friendly hotel or resort.  You want to find accommodations where your pet is welcomed, not just tolerated.  Traveling with our four-legged companions seems to be on the rise, so you might be surprised at the number of accommodations that now allow pets.  Make sure that you check the restrictions- many hotels limit the size of your pet and differ in the fees that are charged.  Some require an up to date shot record.  Make sure that you also check the policies for every place you may visit while on your vacation.  Before heading out, double-check that your pet is wearing an ID tag with contact information clearly visible.  Should you lose your pet while traveling, this will help ensure that your pet gets returned to you safely.

If you are planning to fly with your pet, there is a little more planning involved.  It is essential that you are familiar with the policies of your airline carrier.  Each will have requirements and restrictions; some even prohibit some breeds from flying.  You don’t want any surprises when you arrive at the airport.  Since airlines also limit the number of pets they carry, you must book your flight early.  Most airlines do not allow you to book your pet online; you must call to make arrangements.  You also have to decide if your pet will qualify as a carry-on or if it must be checked as cargo.  If you carry on your pet, be certain that your crate meets the exact guidelines, which will be posted on your air carrier’s website.  You should also be aware that most buses and trains in the US do not allow pets.

Just as you want to eat well when you vacation, so will your pet.  When packing, don’t forget to take along food for your furry companion.  It’s not a good idea to give your animal unfamiliar food while you’re traveling.  You don’t want to upset your pet’s stomach with heavy foods that it doesn’t usually eat. As you travel, you also need to ensure that your pet has fresh cool water so that it can stay hydrated.   It is also important to bring familiar toys from home.  Toys can keep your animal entertained and provide a level of comfort.  It is smart to pack a few emergency essentials also.  Bring along any medications that your pet may need, a pet first aid kit, and your veterinarian’s phone number.  Some animal experts also suggest that you bring a muzzle just in case your animal gets hurt while on the trip.   Of course you will also need proper bedding, travel food and water bowls, litter box if necessary, and a collar and leash.

It may be hard for pet lovers to believe, but others will sometimes act unfavorably to those traveling with pets.   There are several common complaints that other people have for pet owners.  The one thing mentioned most often is that pet owners often fail to clean up after their pet.  The other most common complaint is about dogs that bark and disturb other travelers.  Be considerate of these things and remember to always have your pet leashed and under control.

Finally, remember it is NEVER acceptable to leave your pet in a closed car.  Even in the shade with the windows cracked, temperatures can spike quickly and your animal can have a heat stroke.  Most pets love to travel and pet owners enjoy having their pet around.  Following these tips should help you and your pet have a good experience.  So pack your bags, grab your favorite furry friend, and hit the road for a happy family vacation!

 

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