Traveling with pets

What To Do When Taking Your Pet On The Road

People often travel with pets. Unfortunately, many put their dog or cat’s safety at risk. In the hustle and bustle of packing, wrapping up last-minute details and making plans, travelers sometimes neglect to take steps that could make their pet safer and more comfortable during the trip.

Couple traveling in car with dog

To ensure your pet stays happy and out of harm's way during your next trip together, consider the following tips.

Don't leave your pet cooped up in the vehicle -- even for a short time

According to Amy Robinson, a dog training professional, "It takes only minutes for a pet left in a vehicle on a warm day to succumb to heat stroke and suffocation. Plan your trip to avoid stops that don't include the dog. Check out a map before you go and ditch the fast food stops in favor of a picnic at dog-friendly state or local parks. A short walk along a nature path will make you both feel refreshed."

Bring a crate or carrier for your pet

Your checklist of items to pack should include a pet crate or carrier, which will be especially helpful during road trips and in places that are unfamiliar to your pet.

Robinson explains, "A crate secured in the back seat keeps your dog calm and serves as his own hotel room when you stop for the night or arrive at your destination. If you are staying with friends or relatives, the crate shows you respect their home, and you are more likely to be invited back again."

Michael Kelly is the CEO of On Call International, a leading provider of travel, medical and security assistance. He shares some advice about the types of crates and carriers that are best for your pet. "The most important tool in traveling with pets is a well-ventilated carrier. There are a number of wire mesh, hard plastic and soft-sided carriers available, but whatever you choose, make sure it's large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in," he explains.

Pack the pet essentials

In addition to a crate or carrier, there are several other items you should bring. Kelly says, "In addition to travel papers, food, a bowl, a leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication and a pet first-aid kit, pack a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity when traveling."

Take your pet's medical history

If your pet becomes injured or sick during your trip, you may need to take him or her to a new veterinarian. Dr. Jules Benson, vice president of veterinary services at Petplan Pet Insurance, encourages you to ask your current veterinary hospital to make a copy of your pet's recent medical history to take with you. "Some facilities may even be able to provide them electronically, on a CD or a USB device," says Benson.

Don't let your pet stick his head out of the window

Although pets -- or at least dogs -- love the rush of air on their face, and they sure look cute with their ears flying behind them, you shouldn't let your pet put his or her head out the window while the vehicle is in motion. According to Kelly, "Dust, dirt and other flying debris can result in injury and the exposure of high winds to pets' sensitive ears can result in swelling and tenderness."

Consider your pet's personality when deciding where to stay

If you're not tied to a particular place to stay during your trip, select somewhere your pet will feel comfortable. According to Susan Sims, publisher of FIDO Friendly Magazine, "A well-socialized dog will enjoy meeting new people and dogs. If your dog does not meet this criteria, consider renting a private home or cabin where there will be fewer interactions."

To further make your pet feel comfortable in a new space, Sims suggests bringing your pet's bed from home so she can continue to enjoy her favorite spot to rest.

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