Summer is the time for traveling for most families. The decision about whether or not to take your pet along with you is an important one. If your pet has health issues, it’s always best to leave him at home. If you have a healthy pet who enjoys traveling, by all means bring him along! Keep in mind, regardless what you think; most cats DON’T enjoy traveling in any form!
If you decide to bring your pet with you on your travels, first you must prepare for the journey. You will need all necessary supplies food, treats, toys, bed, cold water and bowls for the road. You’ll also need to check ahead of time for pet friendly hotels. A great website to look for listings is: www.petswelcome.com
Next, you’ll want to prepare your pet for travel. If your pet hasn’t had a health check recently, you may want to make an appointment with your veterinarian. While you’re there, update your pet on any vaccinations that are needed.
Now that you and your pet are prepared, it’s time to enjoy your vacation! However, keep these safety tips in mind while on vacation:
* Don’t leave pets unsupervised around pools
* If your pet is not used to swimming, gradually introduce them to the water
* Make sure all pets wear flotation devices on boats. Here is just one example: http://www.ruffwear.com/K-9-Float-Coat-trade
* Try not to let your dog drink pool water since it contains chlorine and other chemicals that can cause an stomach upset
* A day at the beach can be treacherous unless there is a shaded spot and plenty of fresh cool water for your pet. And dogs should always be rinsed off after swimming in the ocean.
* Even while on vacation, never leave your pet alone in a vehicle even with the windows open, a parked car can quickly turn into a sauna. On an 85 degree day, for example, the temperature inside your car – even with the windows slightly opened can reach 102 degrees in 10 minutes.
* Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent on your pet if it is not labeled specially as pet-friendly. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. Ingestion of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems.
If you decide that your pet is not ready to travel with you and needs to stay home, the best option is to have a friend or relative take your pet into their home. If this option isn’t available, ask someone you know to come to your house to care for your pet. A visit twice a day is best to ensure your pet doesn’t get too lonely while you’re away.
The next best option is to hire a pet sitter. Start with a recommendation from a friend, neighbor, veterinarian, humane society, or dog trainer. You can also contact the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (800-296-PETS) or Pet Sitters International (336-983-9222) for a referral.
When hiring a pet sitter, be sure to ask these questions first:
1. Can the pet sitter provide written proof that she has commercial liability insurance? (to cover accidents and negligence)
2. What training has the pet sitter received?
3. What will happen if the pet sitter experiences car trouble or becomes ill? Does she have a backup?
4. Will the pet sitter provide related services such as in-home grooming, dog walking, dog training, and play time?
5. Will the pet sitter provide you with the phone numbers of other clients who have agreed to serve as references?
If you are unable to find a friend or relative to care for your pet and hiring a pet sitter is not an option, then as a last resort choose to board your pet. Again, there are certain things to keep in mind when choosing a boarding facility:
1. Does the facility look and smell clean?
2. Is there sufficient ventilation and light and is a comfortable temperature maintained?
3. Does the staff seem knowledgeable and caring?
4. Are pets required to be current on their vaccinations, including the vaccine for canine kennel cough? Such a requirement helps protect your animal and others.
5. Does each dog have his own adequately sized indoor-outdoor run or an indoor run and a schedule for exercise?
6. Are resting boards and bedding provided to allow dogs to rest off the concrete floor?
7. Are cats housed away from dogs?
8. Is there enough space for cats to move around comfortably?
9. How often are pets fed?
10. Can the owner bring special food for their pet if required?
Whether you decide to travel with your pet, or leave him at home, follow these tips and your pet will be assured a safe and happy summer experience!