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Bow Wow Meow Press

June 23, 2008

A New Leash on Vacationing with Your Pet

Don't assume you can bring your pet on the plane and place him under your seat as a carry-on

by Buzz Miller

Summertime is vacation time. Why not include your pet in those plans. If you like exploring or just hanging at the beach, try bringing your pet along to share the experience. Flying to California is no longer off limits for your “Best Friend.” Many restaurants, with outside tables, are pet friendly. What used to be the exception to the rule, with “no pets allowed” signs everywhere, has changed dramatically. Dogs are now included in hotel advertising, to attract your dollars. Dog menus are available from room service. The new “we allow pets” attitude, has made it possible to include your “furry family member” in your vacation plans. Pets are no longer excluded when referring to “Your Family.” Bringing your pet on vacation will require some easy preparation. Depending on the destination, how you intend to get there and what you intend to do once you arrive will determine what you will need to pack, with your pet in mind. The very first thing you need to do is to make an appointment with your veterinarian. Up to date inoculations, a calming medicine if you are flying, and a full set of medical records all should be at the top of your list. I always suggest having a microchip implanted on your very first visit to the doctor’s office when bringing a new pet into your life. If you haven’t already done so, and are planning on leaving your familiar surroundings, the microchip is a must for your pet. Get a new name tag with your cell phone number and the name of your pet rather than your home phone. Nothing is worse than finding a lost pet, calling the owner only to discover that no one is home. Makes sense that no one would be at home if they were in the same location as the lost pet! Pounds across the country usually check for a microchip. They are wonderful for locating your lost pet and returning them quickly. You might also change your phone message to include your cell phone number.

If you are driving to your destination you will need to bring along items specifically earmarked for Fido. His bed, two bowls for food and water, a supply of food for the trip, treats and his favorite toys. Also take a gate to keep him confined when you leave your room, along with his Furminator brush which is one of the greatest inventions to cut down on shedding. In addition, make sure you have plenty of “clean up” bags for frequent “pit stops” and a roll of paper towels and a spray bottle for that unexpected accident in the car, gas station or overnight stay at the motel.

If you plan to fly, check with your airlines before purchasing your tickets. Yes one for Fido too. Don’t assume you can bring your pet on the plane and place him under your seat as a carry-on. Many of the airlines have a strict limit on the number of companion animals permitted on any given flight. Some of the airlines will not permit pets in the cabin area at all. Airlines charge to place the animal either under your seat, in a regulation size carrier, or in the cargo section. Ask all of the right questions when booking your flight for all of your family members. Make sure your carrier is approved by your airline and will fit under your seat.

If your animal tends to become aggressive in strange surroundings, which by the way can happen to a friendly and affectionate animal when they are frightened and completely out of their element, make sure you use a leash that prevents the dog from biting, by muzzling the snout. This type of leash is not uncomfortable for your pet and will prevent nervous barking and nipping at strangers. Once at your destination, I suggest using a regular step-in leash with a short lead to contain your pet from jumping or, in a worse case scenario, nipping or biting.

My final bit of advice is to make sure your pet does not stay in the sun all day long. They get sunburned just as we do and need frequent slurps of water, even with that great big ocean in front of them. Bring an umbrella, and if you can get your dog to wear a sun visor, bring that along too. In Fido’s beach bag have a big plastic water bowl with fresh water and a few treats, broken in very small pieces, to remind him about his good manners. Reward him frequently for listening to your commands. Limit the time you intend to have him in the sun and never leave your dog in the car for even a few minutes alone without air-conditioning. Vacations are great fun for everyone. Why not include your pet and consider your next vacation a complete family affair.

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