All About Pets

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Tips for traveling with pets

Many pet owners feel vacations are more fun with their furry companions in tow. Traveling can be more complicated when pets are part of the equation, but there are ways to ensure a comfortable and safe trip.

The Humane Society of the United States says the safest and most comfortable way for pets to travel is inside a carrier or crate. Make sure the carrier is big enough so that the pet is comfortable and has some mobility, but not so big that he or she can be jostled around.

Carriers and crates should be anchored to the vehicle using a seatbelt or another device. Carriers that can move or bounce around are dangerous to the pet and the occupants of the car. Airlines and railways often insist pets travel in carriers.

The safest place for pets during a road trip is in the back seat of a car or in a rear cargo area when possible. In the event of a crash, air bag deployment can seriously injure a pet that is riding along in the front seat.

Pet owners should put together a traveling kit that includes essential items their pets may need. Such essentials may include identification, a temporary travel tag for the collar with current contact information, vet records indicating the pet is current on its vaccinations, plastic bags, food, a favorite toy, and clean-up supplies in the event of motion sickness. Pets that drink water from an unfamiliar area may experience stomach discomfort, so bring some water along as well.

When booking your trip, seek pet-friendly hotels and accommodations. Websites such as www.dogfriendly.com can provide a number of options. At the hotel, use white noise to keep dogs from barking at every passerby outside the room. Exercise the pet before retiring for bed so that he or she is as calm as possible before sleep.

If your dog is unruly in an unfamiliar location, try offering a chew toy. The ASPCA says chewing and licking are very soothing to dogs and may help them fall asleep.

One concern some pet owners have is a dog or cat who will not relieve himself in a place that is not familiar. Some dogs will hold it in, which can be uncomfortable and unhealthy. Cats may soil where they shouldn't. A scent cue, such as a small amount of dirty litter or a piece of fabric with the pet's urine on it, can be used to entice the dog or cat to relieve itself appropriately on vacation.

Traveling with pets may be a choice or a necessity. Either way, pet owners should explore their options to make the experience more comfortable.