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Traveling with Pets


travel pet dog steering wheel carTraveling with pets is a growing trend -- so much that there's now a pets-only airline! (See PetAirways.com.) But even the most precious pet does not necessarily a good traveler make. Whether or not you bring your pet along for the trip is not so much a question of "can you?" but a question of "should you?"

No one knows your pet better than you, so no one is more qualified to answer that all-important question. If the answer is a resounding yes, keep reading -- we've compiled a list of tips and resources for all you pet lovers who can't bear to leave the little ones behind.

GENERAL PET TRAVEL TIPS

Check Whether Pets Are Allowed
Many destinations don't permit easy entrance for pets. Hawaii, for instance, has a quarantine period for dogs and cats of up to 120 days, as Hawaii is free of rabies. However, dogs and cats meeting specific pre- and post-arrival requirements may qualify for a five-day or less quarantine, or even a direct release, at Honolulu International Airport after inspection.

Don't Underestimate the Cost
With crates, air and hotel surcharges, toys, extra food, unexpected vet bills away from home, and more, traveling with your pet can add up. Be aware of the costs and allow a little wiggle room in your budget. (Our Travel Budget Calculator can help you estimate your expenses.)

Use Proper Identification
Put a tag on your pet's collar that includes rabies vaccination information, your name, your address and phone number, and local contact numbers. It could save your pet's life.

Train Your Pet
A pet that responds to your commands will save you considerable trouble while on the road. From the airport to the hotel, a pet that is friendly and obedient is the most pleasant traveling companion.

Learn About Your Pet's Health
Knowing a little about your pet's normal temperature, pulse and respiratory rate, prescription medications, and other health issues can save you time, worry and money on the road. Consult your vet, and make a checklist of these issues.

Bring a Pet First-Aid Kit
A pet thermometer, tweezers, gauze, antibiotic ointments, ear drops and other items available at most stores will work; consult your vet for a complete list.

Poll: Do You Travel with Your Pet?

Buy a Crate
A pet crate is not something to skimp on. The crate should be sturdy and correctly sized for your pet. A crate that is too small will be very uncomfortable; a crate that is too large could allow your pet to be tossed around during handling. If you're bringing the animal on a plane, be sure to read your airline's requirements regarding size, weight, material and design. Airline-approved crates must have ventilation on the sides (in addition to the door) and have food/water trays that are refillable from the outside in the case of a delay.

Most crates come with stickers indicating that an animal is inside. If your pet is house-trained, consider putting a blanket, liner or cushion in the crate for comfort. If she's not house-trained, a clean carrier floor is best.

"Crate Train" Your Pet
A long flight or a lonely hotel room should not be the place your pet becomes acquainted with a traveling crate. Buy your crate well before traveling, and work with your pet until he's familiar and comfortable in the crate. Normal training techniques should work, such as the use of food, praise and other incentives to get your pet used to staying in the crate.

CAR TRAVEL TIPS

Don't Leave Your Pet Unattended
This is one of the great "don'ts" of pet ownership. Even when temperatures are mild, a car can get dangerously hot or cold. In most situations, you are putting your pet at risk by leaving her alone in a car.

Some Other Don'ts
  • Don't let your pet hang his head out the window.
  • Don't leave your pet loose in the vehicle. Use a leash tied to a seat or a stable crate.
  • Don't let your pet ride in the passenger's seat. It's dangerous for the animal and potentially distracting for you as a driver.

    dog beach ocean vacation pet travelWalk Your Pet Frequently
    Plan to stop the car on a regular basis. Many pets love to get out and explore, and they may need to be taken outside to relieve themselves more often while traveling than at home.

    Five Travel Ideas for Pet Lovers

    Provide Adequate Food and Water
    You should always keep food and water with you in the car -- the heat of the car, the stress of traveling and your pet's excitement often cause increased thirst.

    Fend Off Carsickness
    Pets are as prone to carsickness as humans, if not more so. Partially open windows and frequent walks help, and there are many remedies available from pet stores and vets as well. Consult your vet for more information.

    LODGING TIPS

    Find Pet-Friendly Hotels
    Many hotels gladly accept pets, such as Homestead Studio Suites. Find a list of additional pet-friendly properties at PetsWelcome.com, PetsontheGo.com, BringYourPet.com and PetFriendly.ca.

    Stay on a Lower Floor
    It's far easier to get your pet in and out of the hotel without incident if you are on the ground floor -- no elevators, stairs or altercations with other guests.

    Keep Your Pet Clean
    If you take your pet outside, you should wipe mud, dirt and water off her fur before bringing her back into the hotel. Some pet dirt can stain floors and linens, and you might have to pay for cleaning or replacement costs.

    Keep Your Pet in a Crate
    Hotel employees, neighbors and your pet are probably best served by this step. Your pet can relax in familiar surroundings, the room stays clean and you can relax as well. Don't leave your pet loose and unattended.

    Top Tips for Choosing a Hotel

    Use the "Do Not Disturb" Sign
    If you do have to leave your pet in your room, put the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door so hotel employees don't enter and become frightened -- or get accosted -- by your pet.

    Turn on the Radio
    cat hotel bedMany animals are comforted by familiar music. While you are out, play your pet's favorite station.

    Walk Your Pet in Approved Areas
    Ask hotel management where they would prefer that you walk your pet.

    Clean Up After Your Pet
    Most hotels don't consider their rooms and halls to be dog walk paths.

    Consider a Home Exchange
    GoCat.travel is a home exchange network for pet owners. Instead of paying to put your pet in a kennel, the travelers staying in your home will also care for your pet -- while you stay in their home and care for their furry bundle of joy. No, it's not the same as traveling with your own pet, but if you're going too far for Fifi to come along, at least you'll still have a friendly animal to cuddle.

    Get Our Best Travel Deals and Tips!

    PACKING CHECKLIST

  • Health documentation
  • Leash and muzzle
  • Bed and blanket
  • Food, snacks and water (bowls included)
  • First-aid kit
  • Toys
  • Crate
  • Grooming tools

    *Source: The Humane Society of the United States

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