It is Travel and Vacation Season and there is Pet-cious Cargo on Board!

ImagePets are a big part of our lives and many of us take our dogs and cats with us when we travel. Millions of pets are included in vacation plans every year. In fact, more resorts and vacation packages are being designed around pet families. The American Automobile Association, or AAA, says more hotels and resorts welcome companion animals. AAA says in the United States there are more than 12-thousand pet friendly hotels. Other vacation options for pet families include animal friendly campgrounds and marinas. Double-check with your resort, hotel or other location on their animal policy to ensure your pet receives a warm welcome on arrival.

So how will you get there? Flying might sometimes seem to be the fastest and least stressful way to go, it can be the opposite for a pet forced to fly in the cargo hold. The only time any animal should be placed on a plane is if you’re relocating and all other options are unavailable. Most pet families drive with their pets. Nearly six in 10 respondents to an AAA/Kurgo survey reported they had driven with their dog in the automobile at least once a month in the past year.

Before you begin packing, there are few preliminary steps to get your furry friend ready for the big trip. Consider having your animal microchipped by your veterinarian or a facility like the Animal Protective Association of Missouri. This is a low cost and painless process in which a microchip containing all identification information is inserted under the animal’s skin. Also have your veterinarian issue a health certificate stating that your animal is healthy and able to travel and that all necessary vaccinations are up to date.

Plan your trip with your pet in mind. Will there be a lot of pet friendly activities, or will he or she be cooped up in a hotel room while you are on the golf course, sunning on the beach or riding roller coasters? As much as you love your pets, if they suffer from motion sickness, get over-stimulated easily, or get physically or emotionally upset when their routines are disrupted, the best option for them may be to stay home or in the care of a trusted sitter.

If your trip itinerary is pet friendly and your vehicle is outfitted for your furry friend there are, of course, some steps to follow:

• Never leave your pet alone in the car: Dogs can suffer and die when left inside parked cars, even on mildly warm days. On a 78°F day, the temperature inside a shaded car is 90°F, and the inside of a car parked in the sun can reach 160°F in minutes. Animals can succumb to heatstroke within just 15 minutes.

• To prevent sickness, feed pets early so that they don’t eat in the few hours before departure. Exercise them several hours before you depart so that they aren’t hot and thirsty in the car or forced to “hold it” for hours after gulping down water after a walk.

• Don’t transport your pet in the bed of a pickup truck. All it takes is one abrupt stop for them to be propelled into the street; plus, heat brings the added danger that they might burn their feet on the hot metal.

• Carry water and ice in containers for rest stops. No-spill travel bowls are available in pet supply stores and online.

• For pets prone to car sickness, consult your veterinarian for remedies or try ginger capsules, available at health-food stores.

• Use a kennel or restrain your dog with a canine seat belt, available from pet supply stores and catalogs.

• Never open a car window or door when your pet is unrestrained. Countless animals have been lost at tollbooths and rest stops this way.

• Stop to walk dogs often.

• Use a window shade for the back and side windows. Make sure that your air conditioning is working properly, and use it while driving. It is not safe to let an animal hang his or her head out a car window.

Charlotte Reed, a pet lifestyle expert and First for Women pet solutions columnist, has some video tips and helpful products for taking your pet on the road safely: http://www.videoatgm.com/videos/us/en/gm/RECENT/Faces-of-GM-Pet-Day-at-NYIAS/1567094590001/1

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