AAA reports that over 80 percent of summer vacations are road trips of over 600 miles round trip -- that's a lot of driving! Many times, those family road trips include the family pets. While we love traveling by car, all those miles can be exhausting -- especially for four-legged family members!
You can still take the pups and kitties with you on trips -- just be sure you plan before you go and travel with them in mind.
You likely pack a bunch of snacks and drinks to keep your kids -- and your belly -- happy during a road trip. Why wouldn't you do the same thing for your pets? Be sure you pack plenty of food, water, treats, leashes and toys for the trip. Bring at least double the amount you think you'll need for the entire trip -- pet gear doesn't take up that much room and you'll probably need more than you think.
Many people like to drive for hours without taking a break -- you get there faster, right? Well, it doesn't work the same way for pets: Animals have small bladders and can't hold it for hours. Plus, animals need a chance to stretch their legs and burn off some energy. Consider stopping every couple of hours for pet exercise and bathroom time -- your pet will ride better in the car and you'll have a chance to stretch too!
Also, be sure to give food and water at the beginning of the break unless you want to clean up pet vomit. Animals are known to get sick in cars, and giving your pet a belly full of food and water before getting back in the vehicle is a recipe for disaster.
You wouldn't dream of riding in a car without a seatbelt, right? Sadly, many people don't think of restraining their pets in the car. Dogs and cats should be belted into the seat in a special pet restraint or travel kennel for the duration of the trip. Put toys or other comforting items in the kennel with your pet so she has something familiar with her during the trip.
It's also a good idea to get your pet acclimated to the travel kennel or restraint before the long trip. Consider taking her on short trips in the travel accessory before you leave so she's not terrified while you're driving.
Thousands of hotels and motels now allow pets in rooms, but not every hotel is pro pets. Be sure you check with the hotel when you book to be sure Fido or Mitzy is allowed in your hotel room. Otherwise, you might be stuck sleeping in the car for the night.
A lost pet is a sad pet -- and a sad family -- so be sure your four-legged friends have identification tags or microchips (or both!) with your current contact information.
Pets -- especially cats -- are susceptible to dehydration during long trips. Keep that potentially dangerous situation from happening by giving pets water with electrolytes (think Pedialyte) during the trip.
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