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May 2010 Before you take your pet on a road trip...
Taking your pet along can make a vacation fun for everyone, if you plan carefully. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, 67% of pet owners vacation or travel with their pets. With summer on the horizon it will be time to travel and prepare to take along your beloved pet as well! It will be important to plan in advance and make sure the trip is fun and safe for him or her. Given these statistics it is apparent that pet owners should become well versed in the areas of pet travel to insure a fun, safe worth while adventure!
It seems easy and tempting to want to take Fido on vacation but we have to look at the reality of the situation. If your pet is a high anxiety character to begin with you may want to consider a reputable pet-sitter so he can stay home in his familiar environment. You might be away but he would still have comfort of his routine, familiar surroundings, and a favorite bed to sleep on. All these will help to keep him happy until you return. However, if you do decide he is a candidate for travel you need to ready him well in advance. Some animals aren't used to the car at all. If you haven't taken him on the road for anything other than a trip to the veterinarian it would be smart to familiarize him with short rides to low anxiety places such as a quiet park or walking trail. Upon arriving at your destination be sure to give him a treat or reward for his well earned good behavior! Slowly increase the length and frequency of the drives so it becomes second nature to him. Before long he'll be jumping in with zeal, excited to experience a new adventure!
With good times and travel peace of mind as our goal we mustn't forget the topic of safety. If the trip is going to be a short one the most important item to bring along is water. As the temperatures begin to rise this season remember that heat stroke can occur very quickly when a dog overexerts in these conditions. Give your pal plenty of time to rest when he's out in the hot humid weather having fun. Offer him or her water frequently throughout the day. Let your pet rest at will and don't push beyond fitness limits. If your pet isn't a seasoned athlete a 90 degree day isn't the time to ask him to run a marathon. If the road trip is an extended one, you will have to make numerous "pet stops" to allow your pet to relieve himself. Should you be taking your fabulous feline on the road take along a disposable litter box to place in their carrier to facilitate a comfy journey. Regular diet and treats are a necessity too! Don't forget that special bed and favorite toy that carry reminders of home.
Now, with some pet travel basics covered don't forget to have your regular veterinarian's phone number available should a crisis arise. In addition you should always carry the contact information for a 24 hour emergency, trauma, and specialty referral hospital, like NorthStar VETS, at 609.259.8300 should you need assistance after the general practice closes.