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By Art Foss In today’s day and age our four-legged friends have become more and more an integral part of the family. Whether it is in an empty nester household or maybe the single or couple’s home or your average husband, wife, and 1.5 kids, they all seem to have a soft spot in their hearts to care for something warm and fuzzy. As members of the family many times our pets accompany us on our travels, vacations, and errands. However, unlike other members of the family their communication skills are limited. So as caretakers it falls on us to be aware of what their needs are beforehand. Below is a list of the top 10 things you need to know when traveling with your pets.
  1. Never leave your pet in the car unattended, even with the windows cracked open; whether it’s hot or cold temperatures inside the vehicle can change rapidly and be deadly.
  1. Holding your pet on your lap while driving may make you feel good but it hinders your ability to react to unforeseen situations, limiting your steering, braking, and vehicle control — and in many areas, it is against the law.
  1. Always keep dogs on their leashes when you open your car door. Being in a strange place once out of the car, they may feel the need to head for home, or head out into that busy parking lot or street.
  1. The U.S. Department of Agriculture enforces the Animal Welfare Act, and requires that dogs have all current vaccinations and a valid health certificate when crossing state lines.
  1. If you’re planning on staying in a motel while on the road check ahead to see if their lodging is “pet friendly” and what their policies and charges are.
  1. Always bring enough food, water, and treats for the trip, remember the food and water dishes, and don’t forget the poop bags.
  1. When traveling be sure you make enough pit stops so they can relieve themselves.
  1. Be sure your pets’ ID tags, chips, or tattoos are up to date with your current contact information.
  1. A favorite toy and blanket will help keep their stress level down.
  1. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association it is not recommended to give sedatives or tranquilizers to dogs as it may cause respiratory and/or cardiovascular problems.
Taking your pet on an airplane brings up a whole new set of travel situations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (www.aphis.usda.gov) regulates the air transportation of pets, along with the FAA (www.faa.gov), and airlines are required by law to follow their guidelines (although the commercial airlines are allowed to expand on those regulations to accommodate the companies’ policies and regulations). Always check your airline’s website before booking your flight to see what their specific policies and regulations are, as well as any additional charges. Most have weight and size limits for in-cabin transportation of your pet, plus the size and type of carrier required. If you are on vacation or traveling through states to get to your final destination, the requirements laid out by the Department of Agriculture are pretty straightforward: have all your pet’s vaccinations up to date and obtain a health certificate from your vet. Traveling with your four-legged family member is both challenging and rewarding, and sometimes the thought of leaving him or her with a friend or checking them into a doggy day care for any length of time is just not an option. So, by doing a little homework and preparation you should be good to go. And don’t you just love to see the smile on your pet’s face when you say, “Let’s go bye-bye.” If you would like to purchase this article for your publication, please click here to contact the author directly.