Pet travel tips

Wisconsin Gazette - - Front Page - From the Travel Chan­nel

Au­gust is the sec­ond-most pop­u­lar va­ca­tion month of the year and La­bor Day marks the last big hol­i­day week­end of the summer.

If you're among the mil­lions of peo­ple in the United States plan­ning an end-of-summer get­away and if you can't bear to leave your four-legged fam­ily mem­bers at home, the Travel Chan­nel of­fers the fol­low­ing tips for trav­el­ing with pets.

FLY THE PET-FRIENDLY SKIES

Fly­ing with your pet is ac­tu­ally a lot eas­ier than it sounds, as most air­lines are quite an­i­mal-friendly.

How­ever, each air­line has its own set of regulations. Be sure to check out a car­rier's pol­icy be­fore you book your flight.

Most air­lines ex­tend two trav­el­ing op­tions to furry friends — ei­ther carry-on or checked. You may al­ready have a fa­vorite pet car­rier, but check with the air­line in ad­vance to en­sure it meets spe­cific regulations.

Guide­lines for pet carriers vary de­pend­ing on how your cat or dog will fly. Small pets may come aboard as carry-on lug­gage in a hard or soft car­rier, which must be stored un­der the seat for the du­ra­tion of the flight. Larger pets that travel in cargo must fly in a non-col­lapsi­ble car­rier with an am­ple sup­ply of water. In most cases, the weight of the an­i­mal and the car­rier must not exceed 100 pounds.

HIT THE ROAD

If you're look­ing to travel by train or bus, you're prob­a­bly out of luck. Most na­tional carriers do not per­mit pets, other than ser­vice an­i­mals. That lim­its you to your car if you're us­ing the open road.

Car travel is more con­ve­nient, be­cause you can set your own sched­ule and have your furry friend nearby for the du­ra­tion of the trip. But there are some safety tips to con­sider.

Don't let your dog or cat ride in your lap in the front seat. You can let your pet find a com­fort­able and safe spot in the back seat, if you're not con­cerned about him or her roam­ing around the around the car and dis­tract­ing you while driv­ing. The safest way for your pet to travel is in a car­rier that's buck­led in by a seat belt.

Talk to your vet be­fore you em­bark on your trip to de­ter­mine the best way to han­dle your dog or cat's anx­i­ety on the road. If your pet has car anx­i­ety, your vet may rec­om­mend seda­tives to ease nerves and car sick­ness. Pets can get sick on the road just like hu­man pas­sen­gers, but ne­go­ti­at­ing the barf bag is a bit trick­ier.

Plan for plenty of pit stops along the way for fresh air and bath­room breaks. When it's time for you to hit the rest stop, leave the win­dow open a crack for ven­ti­la­tion. Of course, avoid leav­ing your pet in the car unat­tended for an ex­tended amount of time. Hot cars kill many pets in Amer­ica ev­ery summer.

HOME AWAY FROM HOME

As more trav­el­ers now set off on ad­ven­tures with their pets, the ho­tel in­dus­try has re­sponded with many pet-friendly op­tions. Cur­rently of­fer­ing pet-friendly prop­er­ties are high-end ho­tel chains, in­clud­ing the Four Sea­sons and Ritz Carl­ton; bou­tique ho­tels, like those in the Kimp­ton Group; and bud­get ho­tels, in­clud­ing Red Roof Inn and La Quinta.

Call in­di­vid­ual ho­tels or visit their web­sites to learn about their pet poli­cies. Be prepared to pay an ad­di­tional fee to bed down with your pet at night.

Whether you're rent­ing a beach house or a moun­tain­side ski chalet, don't as­sume Fluffy is wel­come with­out check­ing first. Some rentals have strict poli­cies on pets, but many wel­come an­i­mals for a fee. Web­sites such as pet­travel.com and HomeAway.com pro­vide listings for an­i­mal-friendly rentals around the world.

Fi­nally, pre­pare for med­i­cal emer­gen­cies. Be­fore you leave for your trip, re­search emer­gency vet clin­ics at your des­ti­na­tion in case you re­quire an un­ex­pected trip to the an­i­mal doc­tor.

If you de­cide to leave your pet be­hind, get recommendations for a good ken­nel close to home — or, if Fluffy is a cat — a re­spon­si­ble pet sit­ter.

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