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Best Pet Travel Tips Ever

Preparing Fido and Fluffy for planes, trains and automobiles

My friend’s cocker spaniel, Dexter, has accumulated more travel miles than most people. I, on the other hand, choose to leave my cats, Karma and Chai, behind because they’re house cats.

Deciding whether you should take your pets with you or leave them at home for the holidays is a big decision for a lot of us.

“We are in the midst of the holiday season, and according to Travel Weekly (a trade magazine), travelers are booking longer trips,” Patti Moran, Pet Sitters International founder and president, told LifeZette. “With 65 percent of U.S. households owning a pet, the majority of these holiday travelers are likely to be faced with an important question: Who’s going to take care of the pet while I’m away?”

If you’ve never hired a pet sitter, start by getting recommendations from friends, neighbors, or your pet’s veterinarian, and do a trial run a few months before the big trip to see if your pet gets along with the sitter.

PSI recommends you ask the potential pet sitter the following:

  1. Do you have a business license for your city or state?
  2. Are you insured and bonded?
  3. Can you prove a clear criminal history?
  4. Can you provide references?
  5. Do you have a pet-sitting service agreement or contract?
  6. Have you taken any pet first aid training?
  7. Are you a member of PSI or other professional association?

Once you find the perfect pet sitter:

  1. Make a list for him or her that includes the number of daily walks for your dog, what and how much to feed your pet, how often the litter box should be changed, and what the medication schedule is, if your pet takes meds. Also ask if plants need to be watered, if mail should be taken inside, and if there are any other household duties to perform.
  2. Provide your contact information, your pet’s veterinary phone number, and the addresses and phone numbers of friends and neighbors who can help out if an emergency arises.

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If You Take Your Pet on the Road
With gas prices under $2 a gallon, road travel in the U.S. is up. If you’re planning on vacationing with your dog, try a few trial runs. Most dogs who don’t travel equate the car with a trip to the vet. So get your dog used to being in the car.

There are plenty of things to bring with you. These include extra leashes, a comfortable crate or car seat for your dog, a first aid kit, cleaning supplies (in case your pet has an accident), a towel to dry off your dogs if they get wet, complete medical records of your pets (scanned to a thumb drive), treats, a gallon jug of water in case the dogs get thirsty, pet toys, and food.

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If You Fly with Your Pet
Research the airline’s policies on pets before you purchase tickets.

Some won’t allow you to fly with pets at all. If you do fly with a small animal, find an airline that allows small animals to ride in a pet carrier under your seat. Most airlines require large animals to ride in the cargo area of the plane, and some companies require that all animals ride in cargo. If you can avoid forcing your pet to ride in this area of the plane, away from you, you should. It can be quite an unpleasant experience. And print out the airline’s policies, because not everyone at the check-in counter will be aware of them.

  1. Buy the right kind of pet carrier. Most airlines require you put your pet in a carrier approved by the International Air Transport Association before you fly. You can find IATA-approved pet carriers online and at most pet stores.
  2. Make reservations for your pet early.
  3. Get the proper documentation from your vet. You will be required to provide information from your vet that your pet is up-to-date on all shots and in good health. Make sure you have this documentation with you when you arrive at the airport or your pet will likely be turned away.
  4. Do your best to keep your pets calm.

Flying is usually loud, turbulent, and frightening for animals. So do what you can to make your pet as comfortable as possible. Talk to him in a soothing voice at the airport, put one of your old T-shirts in his crate, and do whatever else you know may help calm him down.

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