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While it’s not practical to bring the family dog (or cat) on every vacation, there are times when your furry friend is more than welcome to come along — and can even add to your enjoyment of the trip. Of course, it’s not always a matter of just loading your pup into the back of the car and heading out. Successfully traveling with a pet requires a little planning and preparation.
Step one to a pet-enhanced getaway? Choosing the right destination and finding accommodations. If you’re planning to camp, or traveling via recreational vehicle, you probably don’t have much to worry about when it comes to bringing a dog along. Just make sure the campground welcomes pets, and pack plenty of water, an extra leash, extra plastic bags to clean up any “deposits” and any other gear you need to keep him safe and comfortable in the woods.
If you plan to stay in a hotel, though, consider where you’re traveling before planning to bring Benji along. Will you be spending your days enjoying theme parks or museums where pets aren’t welcome? Or will you be hitting the beach or park, where a spirited game of fetch only adds to the fun? Even if a hotel welcomes pets, if you plan to be gone all day, your pet might be happier at home or in a kennel — and your hotel might be happier with you, since most prohibit guests from leaving pets unattended in their rooms.
Keep in mind too, that most pet-friendly hotels charge an extra fee for the privilege of bringing your best friend along. The charge might be a non-refundable deposit or a nightly fee, and will cover the cost of any clean up needed after you check out. Some hotels, though, roll out the red carpet for pets, offering treats, beds and even doggie spa treatments. For vacation deals that you can’t beat, look for one of these hotels near your destination; most are in dog-friendly areas with plenty of parks and open spaces for playing.
If you do decide to bring your furry pal on vacation, a visit to the vet is in order before you head out. Confirm your destination’s vaccination requirements before you leave, especially if you’re planning to leave the country. Most nations have strict laws regarding animals entering the country in terms of required vaccines or quarantine periods; for example, if you are bringing a young puppy into the U.S., and he hasn’t been vaccinated for rabies yet, he has to be quarantined for at least 30 days before entering the country. Therefore, make sure that your animal has received all of the required shots, and if you can’t meet the requirements for any reason, Fido might have to sit this one out. If your pet’s shots are up to date, bring copies of his health records to show authorities and have on hand in case of an incident.
Even the friendliest, most secure dog can become nervous and agitated in a new place. That’s why it’s important for travelers to consider their animal’s comfort and safety before heading off on a trip. Flying, for example, can be traumatic for any animal, so talk with your veterinarian before booking your flight to ensure that your dog or cat is up for the trip, and to ask about ways of keeping her calm during the flight.
Talk with your vet about having your pet micro-chipped as well. A small chip implanted into your dog or cat’s skin that contains your contact information can mean the difference between a happy reunion and a sad end to your trip if your pet gets lost or separated from you. If your animal is lost in an unfamiliar place, he will instinctively head for home, and most likely get hopelessly lost in the process. With a microchip, you have a much better chance of finding him quickly.
Bringing man’s best friend along on your summer vacation can make the trip more enjoyable for the whole family. So instead of paying for a kennel or pet sitter, put that cash toward some extra treats for Fido to enjoy on the road.
About the Author: Georgia Marsh is a dog-lover who never leaves home without her beloved Golden Retriever, Barnaby. She writes about pets and pet care for a popular pet care site.