Each year millions of Americans hit the road in search of summer relaxation, adventure, or just some peaceful time with relatives. Many choose to bring their pet with them. In the age where more pets accompany their human companions on vacations, more and more hotels and lodges are becoming pet friendly.
Those who do frequently travel with their pet state that their biggest fear is that their pet will get sick, hurt or lost during the trip. When you are hundreds of miles from home, finding a veterinarian in a panic can be daunting. But with some careful planning and preparation you can minimize your fears and make traveling with your pets an enjoyable experience.
Consider all of your options before traveling with Fido or Fluffy. Many times your pet will be happier if allowed to travel with you, however balance your pet's overall health and safety. Choose the safest mode of travel for your pet. Think about the pet's health, age, whether your pet likes to travel, where you'll be staying and the time of year. Your pet may travel well for short trips to the park or weekend camping trips, but cannot handle cross country ventures. An older pet with arthritis may be very uncomfortable in the winter during rides. It may be better to consider a kennel, pet sitting service, or family member to care for your pet.
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The Red Cross has tips for traveling with your pet this season.
When you decide that bringing your pet is the best option, you need to pack for your pet as well as yourself. The essential items to pack for your pet include medications and medical records, food and bowls, a pet first aid kit, bedding, leash, collar and tags, grooming supplies, current pet photo in case your pet gets lost, a favorite toy or two, a sturdy and well ventilated carrier, litter and litter box (for cats). It might help to pack all pet items in a specific bag just for your pet, that way you do not have to look in several bags for pet supplies.
Before traveling too far, have your pet examined by a veterinarian. Make sure vaccinations are up to date and get any medications your pet might need during the trip. If you are going to give your pet medications to reduce anxiety or travel sickness symptoms, test your pet several days in advance to see if the pet is allergic or has any adverse reaction to it.
As you hit the road build time in your travel plans for frequent stops. Allow your pet to stretch and take a drink of water. Before you put your pet in the car and go, take some safety steps to keep him safe as you drive. All cats should be in a crate or carrier. Dogs can be in a crate or carrier or restrained in a special harness that attaches to the seat belt. If you use a pet barrier in the back seat, make sure it is sturdy and firmly attached so it does not collapse on your pet. Never allow your pet to ride in the front passenger seat, especially one that is airbag equipped. Finally, never leave your pet alone in a parked car. That will leave your pet vulnerable to heat distress and theft.
Pets are definitely an important part of the family. In order to include them during your next trip or family vacation and make the experience enjoyable for all, be sure to take the time to plan and prepare for their travels. By knowing what to pack, what to expect, and what to do each step of the way you minimize their change of injury and ensure that your pet has a safe and stress-free trip. For additional information and a list of Red Cross Pet First Aid visit www.redcross.org.