Into the great wide open: Tips for safe summer travel

Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Jun 24 2011

Summer time is upon us, and for many people, summer is the season for travel. From the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters, this land was definitely meant to be seen, but if you’re anything like me, the idea of seeing it without your whole family (including four-legged children) makes you have second thoughts about planning that all-American summer vacation. Because our pets are increasingly viewed as members of the family, today there are more options than ever for traveling with your pet.

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Up, up, and away

If you choose to do your traveling by air, be aware that all major air carriers do accept pets on their flights. As far as pricing goes, the devil is in the details. Prices tend to vary widely depending on where your pooch flies. Flying as checked baggage or cargo is certainly much cheaper than flying under your seat, but none of the options are inexpensive. A few more tips for airline travel:

  • Keep in mind that some breeds are no longer allowed to fly on domestic flights, as we discussed in a previous blog.
  • Book your flight early. Don’t wait until the last minute, when room on board may be scarce.
  • Check with your airline to ensure that your pet’s carrier is accepted. Many airlines have very specific requirements, and arriving at the airport with an unacceptable carrier will certainly hamper your travel plans.

Flying with your pet is not without it’s risks. Each year, some pets are lost on flights, and unfortunately some pets are injured or die each year as well. A slightly safer option for flying would be to check into pet only airlines that specifically cater to your four legged friend.

By land

By far, the least expensive way to travel with your pet is to go by land. Packing up your car and hitting the open road certainly seems to be a hassle free way of traveling, as well. But keep in mind the following reminders:

  • Some pets suffer from car sickness or anxiety in the car. Check with your veterinarian to get the appropriate medications to prevent mishaps.
  • Bring plenty of fresh water and offer it at every pit stop.
  • Don’t forget doggie bags to clean up after your pet on bathroom breaks.
  • Have a list of pet friendly hotels. Some chains reliably accept pets, while others vary from state to state. Unless you plan to drive through the night, you’ll need a place for everyone to catch some zzz’s.
  • Make sure your pet is safe in the car. Don’t allow him in your lap or by your feet while driving, as this can be a huge distraction. Consider crating him or getting a doggie harness that can be attached to the seat belt to keep the whole family safe.
  • Don’t forget your pet first aid kit. You never know when an unexpected accident will occur.

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