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Vacationing With Your Pets

With no major holidays being celebrated this month, many people make August a family fun month. As the time approaches for the children to return to school, you may also be making plans for an end-of-summer vacation. If you are considering taking your pet on vacation with you, be sure to plan ahead. Traveling with your pet requires flexibility and compromise. Ask yourself these questions:

* Is my pet in good health?
* Will my pet enjoy the adventure of traveling?
* Will my pet be able to remain free of stress?
* Will I be able to tailor my trip to my pet’s needs?
* Will I be able to adjust my travel agenda if necessary?
* Will my pet be welcome at my vacation destination?

If you answer “no” to any of these questions, you may decide it is better for your pet to spend the vacation time with a responsible pet sitter or boarding facility. Pet sitting facilities and pet resorts have become popular, so be sure to make reservations well in advance.

If you decide to include your pet on your vacation there are some things that will make the trip more enjoyable for you and your pet:

HEALTH CHECK: Get your pet a health check up. Your pet should be examined by your vet 1 to 2 weeks before departure. If your pet needs any prescription medication (including heartworm pills and flea preventive medication) be sure to pack enough to last for the duration of your trip.

IDENTIFICATION: Make sure your pet has an ID tag on its collar. Since you will be away from home and your ID tag will have your home information, make arrangements with a friend or relative who can check your answering machine and get in touch with you should your pet become lost and a call has been made to your home. Additionally, take some pictures of your pet with a written description of it (color, weight, size, distinguishing marks).

FOOD & SUPPLIES: Take your pet’s favorite food and water bowls. Your pet’s regular food may not be available at your destination so be sure to bring plenty along. A sudden change of diet can cause stomach upset. Since your pet will be in unfamiliar surroundings take some favorite toys and bedding to make it feel more comfortable. Be considerate of others and bring paper towels and bags for cleaning up after your dog, and take your cat’s litterbox and a scoop.

AUTOMOBILE SAFETY: This may be the best mode of transportation since your pet is probably familiar with your car or truck. Do not feed your pet for several hours before departure. Plan to include frequent rest stops, and be sure to leash your pet before opening the door. A travel kennel is the safest and most secure way to transport your pet. If a carrier is not feasible, harness your pet with a special pet restraint. Keep your pet out of direct sunlight, and never allow your pet to ride with its head out the window or to be loose in the back of a truck.

AIRLINE TRAVEL: Some airlines allow animals in the passenger cabin if they are in a carrier that will fit under the seat. However, they usually only allow 1 or 2 per flight, so make your reservations early. If your pet is traveling by air cargo it must be in an approved shipping kennel. Affix “live animal” labels to the sides and top of the crate as well as identification and contact information, which should be affixed to the inside of the crate as well as the outside. Put a cushion or blanket on the crate floor for your pet’s comfort. Book a direct flight, and schedule it for the time of day with the most comfortable temperatures. If you are traveling abroad check on quarantine issues for your destination and for your return home.

PET POLICY: Call ahead to make sure you will be staying at a pet-friendly location. Major chains have pet policies that vary from location to location, and those policies can change without much warning.

A man wrote a letter to a small hotel in a Midwest town he planned to visit on his vacation. He wrote, "I would very much like to bring my dog with me. He is well-groomed and very well behaved. Would you be willing to permit me to keep him in my room with me at night?"

An immediate reply came from the hotel owner, who said, "I've been operating this hotel for many years. In all that time, I've never had a dog steal towels, bedclothes, silverware or pictures off the walls. I've never had to evict a dog in the middle of the night for being drunk and disorderly. And I've never had a dog run out on a hotel bill. Yes, indeed, your dog is welcome at my hotel, and if your dog will vouch for you, you're welcome to stay here, too!"

This time of year is referred to as the “dog days” of summer. The phrase comes from an ancient Roman belief that the Dog star, Sirius, gave off a lot of heat and caused higher temperatures during July and August. Today we know that the heat of summer is a direct result of the earth's tilt. Our pets’ normal temperature is higher than ours, and it makes them more susceptible to overheating. They depend on us to be caretakers and protect them.

* Exercise your pet in the cool of the early morning or late evening. Be sure to bring along some water.

* Be sure your pet has a cool, shady place to retreat.

* NEVER leave your pet in a parked car. The temperature rises very quickly and puts your pet at a serious risk for heatstroke.

* Consider the surface on which your pet will be walking. Concrete, sand or asphalt can get hot enough to burn the pads of your pet’s feet. Bend down and touch the surface. Would you want to walk on it with bare feet? If not, then it is probably too hot for your pet to walk on as well.

With proper consideration and planning
your family and your pet can enjoy a summer vacation

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Pets Are GemsJANUARY: Happy New YearFEBRUARY: Happy Valentine's Day
MARCH: Toxic PlantsHippity Hoppity Happy EasterAPRIL: April Showers Bring…ThunderstormsCaught
MAY: The Merry Month of MayJUNE: Basic First AidFirst Aid KitJULY: Have a Fun and Safe 4th of July
AUGUST: Vacationing with Your PetsPets Enjoy Celebrating Their Birthdays, Too
SEPTEMBER: School DaysOCTOBER: Halloween Safety Tips For Your Pets
NOVEMBER: Stuff The Turkey, Not Your Pets, This ThanksgivingDECEMBER: Holiday Hazards
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