Traveling With Your Pet

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Summertime, when the living is comfortable, and families go on vacation. And for many people, the family includes their pets.

Travel costs for your pet begin before your trip even starts. Take your animal to the veterinarian pre-departure. Your vet can make sure your pet is up to travel or whether a tranquillizer is an excellent idea to make Felix or Fido more comfortable.

Your vet also can let you know if particular medications are required. For example, if you live in an area without heartworm or Lyme disease, but you plan to visit a region where these diseases are prevalent, you’ll want to put your pet on preventative medicine. And if your pet is already on particular medications, you’ll want to pick up enough for the trip’s duration.

Besides, if your pet is travelling with you by car to Canada or Mexico or is flying anywhere by plane, you’ll need proof of vaccinations, including rabies.

On the road
Once your pet has been cleared to accompany you on vacation, it’s time to look at how you plan to travel and what that means to your animal.

Despite high gasoline prices, road trips are still a favoured way for many families to vacation. Dogs tend to have the most fun out on the road, but a cat who’s used to a car also can be a fine automobile travelling companion.

In general, your pet needs to be restrained while in the vehicle. Sure, dogs love to stick their heads out windows, but debris can fly into their mouths, eyes, and ears, so it’s best to keep the animal fully inside the auto. Once inside the vehicle, a pet needs to be secured, or the animal can become a projectile in the event of an accident, presenting a danger not only to the pet but also to human passengers. Some states, according to the American Animal Hospital Association, have enacted laws that require pets to be restrained while in a moving vehicle.

The best way to restrain your pet is to have it ride in a crate, one that’s large enough for your pet to stand, turn, and lie down. Make sure it has a leak-proof bottom covered with absorbent material, as well as ventilation on opposing sides. Once in the auto, securely fasten the container so that it won’t slide around if you hit the brakes hard. If you don’t have a carrying crate, your first pre-vacation stop is the pet store to buy an appropriate one.

If your pet is a seasoned auto traveller, you might be able to go with a harness instead of a crate. Pet stores sell various harnesses that can be used in conjunction with your car’s seats. Some extend seat belts; others are separate restraints that work like seat belts.

Be sure to bring your pet’s favourite toy and bedding to help him feel at home on the road. Your pet’s other “luggage” should include enough food for the trip, a jug of water, a picture of your pet or other forms of identification (tags, tattoo, microchip), a sturdy leash or harness and collar and plenty of pick-up bags so you can clean up after your pet relieves himself. Don’t forget towels for quick mop-ups if your animal gets muddy or wet, and some sheets to cover beds in motels; these will remind your dog of home and will protect motel furniture.

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