Traveling with pets can be a wonderful experience, but there are things to consider if you want to make each outing a success.
Safety is important. Always have identification on your dog or cat, both tags and microchips if possible. If they escape, it increases the chances that your companions will be returned to you.
Have secure seating for your pet to prevent injury. A heavy-duty carrier works great in the car and the durable materials can protect your cat or dog in case of an accident. Travel harnesses that hook into your seat belt are available and pet barrier fencing is popular for hatchbacks and SUVs. These products can be purchased at local pet stores or online.
Bring medical information with you as well as several days' supply of any medication your pet is taking. You don't want to run out if the trip is unexpectedly extended. If your pet is allergic to any drugs, have this written down, as such information is vital if your companion needs emergency care. If possible, locate a veterinarian ahead of time in the areas you'll be visiting.
Make the trip as comfortable as possible by having soft bedding available. Stop frequently to let your pet move around. Make sure your canine companion is leashed; cat harnesses also are available.
Bring food, water and treats for your dog or cat. Many animals don't enjoy traveling and might not eat, so giving a special treat may help improve your pet's appetite.
And finally, keep the temperature comfortable. A car's interior can be as much as 20 degrees hotter in the shade than the outside temperature.
You can acclimate your dog and cat to car travel by taking them on multiple short trips. If your pets get car sick, don't feed them for one to two hours before leaving, especially for trips lasting more than 30 minutes. Medications can be given for car sickness, and sedarives are an option, too. Your veterinarian can discuss the risks with you.
Documentation may be needed. It is important to have a vaccination certificate for each of your pets. If you are crossing state lines, you should have a health certificate. This is a document from a veterinarian that states your pet is fit for travel and has received certain vaccinations.
If you are flying, the airlines will require one. They also have specific requirements regarding your pet's travel container. Contact individual airlines for this information and make sure the pet carrier is well labeled with the destination and emergency contact information.
Many hotels have accommodations for animals. To find a facility that allows pets, visit www.officialpethotels.com.
Julie Damron is a veterinarian at Sierra Veterinary Clinic in Stockton. Read her columns at Recordnet.com. Contact her at .