Vacationing with pets

August 11, 1996|By Gary Bogue | Gary Bogue,KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS SERVICE

Is your pet taking you along on its vacation this year?

Dogs and occasionally cats are being included in the vacation plans of more and more human families these days.

Demand for pet travel has even spawned its own bimonthly newsletter, DogGone, which offers suggestions about places to go and things to do with your dog. The Vero Beach, Fla., publication maintains a database of more than 23,000 pets-allowed motels, bed-and-breakfasts, campgrounds, resorts, even dude ranches to assist its subscribers with their vacation planning.

Vacationing with your pet can be fun. It can also be a disaster if you don't plan for your pet's needs with the same effort you should be devoting to your own.

Before planning a vacation together ask yourself:

Is your pet suitable for a trip? Not too old? Not too rowdy?

Are you willing to take the risks of traveling with a pet? Issues to consider include heat, strange food and getting separated in a strange place.

If your answers are yes, here are some suggestions to help make that trip safe and enjoyable for you and your pet.

"Get your pet used to car rides before your road trip," says Wendy Ballard, publisher of DogGone. "Some animals experience car sickness due to anxiety. The key to a pleasant driving experience is to get your pet used to car rides all over town, not just to the dreaded veterinarian or groomer."

Here are some other tips:

Travel with your dog and cat in a roomy pet carrier. This keeps them from bothering the driver and protects them in the event of a sudden stop.

To avoid car sickness, feed pets four to six hours before you leave.

Bring plenty of cool water for drinks along the way.

Don't leave pets alone in the car! Heat can kill.

Exercise animals before you leave. Stop the car every two to three hours to walk your pet.

Signs of motion sickness are heavy salivation, restlessness and vomiting. If this happens, stop for a walk and some water.

Do not let your pet out of the car unless it's in a carrier or on a leash.

Make sure the pet's collar has your name, address and a phone number of a friend who can be reached while you're away. If your pet does escape, notify the local humane society or Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Leave a number where you can be reached, and check in regularly.

The Humane Society of the United States advises against taking your pet by air unless you absolutely have to. Animals are lost or killed every year on airline flights.

Summer is an especially dangerous time to ship pets in an airplane's cargo hold. If the airplane is delayed on the ground, temperatures can reach dangerous levels.

Other points about air travel:

Check your airline's pet policies. Most require health certificates and vaccination reports.

Most airlines restrict pet travel to the cargo area, unless the pet carrier fits under a seat. They usually only allow one or two animals in the cabin per flight on a first-come, first-served basis. Make sure your pet has reservations.

During hot months, evening or morning flights may be more comfortable for pets.

Some airlines require a specific kind of pet carrier. Find out, so you can find the right type, and get your pet used to it.

Before you go, get your pet a physical. While you're at the veterinarian's, go over your trip plans and ask for recommendations.

Have your vet give you a health certificate, rabies certificate and a copy of your pet's records showing its shots are all up-to-date. Most states and all countries require this information to let your pet in.

You should also check out quarantines, vaccinations and other health requirements of states and/or countries you'll be visiting. Before going out of the country, check with your veterinarian, airline and the appropriate consulate for entry requirements.

For accommodations:

Call ahead if you plan to stay in a hotel, motel or campground with your pet. Many places are "pet friendly," but most require advance notice.

Don't leave pets unattended in a hotel room. If the maid comes in, a dog might attack, or your pet could escape.

If you plan to visit amusement parks, museums, etc., where pets can't go, ask your hotel about reputable kennels in the area. Many larger attractions (Disneyland, Kennedy Space Center, etc.) have on-site kennels.

Pub Date: 8/11/96

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