Sunday, June 20, 2010

ASK LOLA: What Are Some Tips for Summer Traveling With Our Pets?

Dear Lola: My family is planning a much anticipated vacation to the beach. Do you have any vacation tips for pet loving vacationers with a four-legged passenger in tow?

Sincerely, Are We There Yet

Dear Are We There Yet: Summer can mean lots of traveling. Many pet owners can't bear to hire a pet sitter or board their furry friend and will opt to bring their four legged travel companion. Everyone can agree that traveling, or should I say planning, can be stressful, even for us furry co-pilots. But don't let the stress of planning a well deserved, restful, and fun filled vacation get in the way of bonding time with your pet. With a little planning & preparedness vacationing with your pet can become a family tradition and be enjoyable for everyone. Because even we tail wagging, chewers, droolers, and expert sniffers need to get a way. Yes, even we dogs need an hiatus from our hectic schedules of chasing squirrels.

So, whether your dog, cat or parrot is traveling by land, air or sea it is important to always be prepared for anything. Here are some simple tips to make traveling a pleasant one for both you and your furry or feathered co-pilot.

1. The Paw-fit Destination- It important to plan a leisurely pet-friendly vacation that even your pet will enjoy.

2. Research & stay at a pet-friendly hotel- With more pet owners who consider their furry or feathered friend part of the pack, more hotel & resorts are letting out their welcome pet mats. Many hotels even go the extra mile to make you and your pet feel right at home. But before making reservations, it is important to research and call ahead to make sure pets are allowed, rules & regulations. This is especially important if you are going on a road trip across country and need an overnight stay to rest those sleepy eyes. Phone ahead, to make sure your pet will be welcomed with open arms so as not to be caught off guard.

3. Vet Checkup & Papers- Prior to your travels schedule a vet appointment to ensure your co-pilot is given a good bill of health. Update any vaccinations and ask your vet to supply you with a health certificate to have on hand for the trip. Many airlines and rentals will require this paperwork.

4. Tag You're It- Firmly attach an accurate, up-to-date ID tag to your pet’s collar. Just like you are excited to paint the town and see the sights, so is your pet. Don't forget to keep a good watch on your pet. This is important to heed if you have a four legged escape artist who tends to venture from the pack. With so much see your pet may be tempted to on his or her own tour with you as the tour guide. Consider fastening on a temporary tag, too, that has the address of your pet-friendly vacation rental on it. That way, a lost dog or cat can be swiftly returned to you. Because you don't won't to spend your entire vacation sniffing high and low for a pet that is lost and not found. Consider getting your pet micro chipped as well, this is like an embedded ID card. Microchips provide extra assurance in case the tag falls off. Most shelters and veterinarians have a device for scanning microchips. Microchipping your pet is a great extra step to take, but an ID tag is a must! Unfortunately, traveling with your pet increases your chances of being separated from them.

5. Pack Your Pets luggage- Its important to make sure to pack travel must haves that will keep your pet safe, entertained, and happy. Here is a list of things you should not leave home without:

• H2O for the plane flight or road trip (don't forget that travel water bowl)
• Food for entire vacation + extra for emergencies
• A sturdy leash
• Prescription medications, doggy sunscreen, all natural flea/bug spray & queasy medicine for motion sickness
• Health certificate
• All natural cleaning products (for those doggy rug mishaps)
• Your pet’s favorite toys (eco-toys are safer to chew on)
• Bedding and extra sheets/towels
• Portable carrier (if possible)
Biodegradable doggy poop bags or cat litter box with litter, liners, and a scoop. Don't leave home without them!
• Grooming brush
• Contact information of your at-home vet clinic and a few local vet clinics
• Photos of your pet in case he or she gets lost
• Don't forget to pack your pets dental kit-fresh breath is a must when travel because you never know who you will meet along the way.

** Don't forget to pack your dogs necessary items in your carry on just in case your luggage gets lost.

6. By air, by land or by sea - If traveling by air, contact the airline’s pet policy few weeks before your trip. Some airlines charge extra fees, don't be caught off guard by hidden fees so call ahead. Depending on the size of your pet, some airlines may allow you to place your pet under your seat (considered pet first class). While others may be required to fly in the cargo. If your pet must ride in the cargo take extra precaution to make sure your has safe & stress free travel. If you are traveling by car don't forget to factor in rest stops, bathroom breaks & playtime along the journey will keep both of you happy. When packing your car make sure leash, paperwork, water, food & toys are accessible on the journey amidst the avalanche of luggage.

7. Pet Ettiquette 101- Now that you have finally arrived at your destination with enough room to roam, relax, and play. There’s is proper pet owner etiquette you should keep in mind. Seeing that the hotel is letting out the pet welcome mat, its important to extend them the same hospitality. Before your dog is let in doors make sure dirty paws are cleaned and dry. Because no hotel, resort or rental property wants to be left looking like a frat house. Remember, if you leave your dog in the hotel room while you visit the city, the maid will need to have access to the room. Either confine your pet to a carrier or make special arrangements to clean the room. Clean up after your dog and especially during walks. If you are renting a house make sure your dog does not mistake the chair leg as a chew toy ( a case of mistaken identity!). No one likes to explain to the hotel clerk or property owner about another chew toy causality or have damages billed to you.

8. Respect Fellow Vacationers- Remember you and your pet are not the only ones on vacation who may be staying in the hotel or in your rental community. Make sure your dog is on his or her best doggy behavior and is not howling, whining or barking incessantly.

Enjoy the trip, take tons of "mutt shots" and don't forget to send postcards my way !!

Barkingly yours,
Lola the eco dog

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