01 Feb The Ruff Life: Travelling With Your Pet
Americans love their pets and they love to travel. However, traveling with your pet can present challenges. If you want to spend a holiday roaming across America, there are a few questions you need to answer.
Where Will You Go?
Some communities seem friendlier to pets than others. Cities that host events such as dog shows, pet parades, cat costume competitions or canine agility matches are often good bets. Visit during an event if your schedule allows, but realize that pet-friendly hotels run out of vacancies quickly so plan ahead. If your visit will not coincide with any pet festivals, you may still be in luck; municipalities that host events typically welcome four-legged visitors year-round. Search online for pet-friendly restaurants in the area so you and your furry companion can enjoy some local cuisine.
What Will You Do?
Dogs and their owners like spending time together outdoors. Walks are necessary several times a day, but it is more fun to get out and run at a dog park. Hiking is another popular activity. When in an unfamiliar area, it may be difficult to know what plants and pests to look out for, and dogs are notorious for wandering into patches of weeds, stickers or even poison oak. To avoid expensive visits to a vet that is not familiar with your dog, treat your canine with a home remedy for itchy dogs as soon as possible after exposure. Most dogs like being in or around the water, so if you are by a lake or pond try boating, canoeing or kayaking with your dog—just be sure to fit your fur baby with a properly fitted life vest. Avoid rivers whose currents may overwhelm your dog’s swimming ability.
How Will You Get There?
Transporting dogs and cats can be tricky; exotic pets such as birds, rabbits and lizards present even more challenges. Road trips are often relatively easy, but be sure your car, truck or SUV is properly equipped for your pet’s safety and comfort. In general, a carrier or travel crate is safest, though other options such as harnesses are available. If your dog or cat tends to become stressed or nauseated during travel, consult your vet regarding appropriate medications. Before you leave home, know the vaccination and health certification requirements for each state you plan to visit. If you plan to fly with your pet you will need to check your airline’s regulations. Your pet must be in an approved kennel while in the airport and may be kept in the cargo area throughout the flight. Busses and trains tend to forbid traveling with pets and allow only service animals.
Where Will You Stay?
Recreational vehicles are ideal for pet owners. You can pack plenty of food, treats and toys; additionally, you and your pet can sleep in your own beds each night. If you rent the RV be sure there are no restrictions about bringing animals along. If you won’t be towing your home along with you, there are still plenty of options for lodging. More and more hotels are finding it profitable to accommodate pets, with a few major chains advertising pet-friendly policies and facilities. However, there are generally restrictions regarding size and breed so check ahead at the specific facility to ensure your pet will be accepted. Many privately owned bed-and-breakfasts welcome furry, feathered or scaly guests. Vacation rental websites typically list dozens of homes in each region that allow animals; again, if you have a large or exotic pet, call ahead with specifics.
What Will You Need?
Prior to your trip, spend some time researching. Internet sites can help, providing both official government information and tips from other travelers. Consult professionals in person to answer your specific questions. Your travel agent will have information regarding pet travel requirements. Your veterinarian is another good resource, and can give you advice tailored to your pet’s specific needs. Other things are obvious: bring your pet’s usual food, a few favorite toys, a comforting blanket that smells like home, and the means to clean up any messes your pet makes. Most of all, pack a sense of humor and plenty of patience.