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Six pet-travel tips for your dog days getaway

There’s still time to hit the road, sky or rails for a last summer vacation. And there are lots of options for those who can’t bear to leave their fur babies behind even for a quick junket.

Here are 6 tips for traveling with your dog or cat if you are lucky enough to get out of town before summer fades to fall:

  1. Assess your pet. Make sure your pet is up for the journey. Dogs with chronic illness or those who are elderly might be more content to stay at home with a pet sitter. Travel can be a stressful proposition for humans and even more so for our pawed pals if they lack the temperament or health to make a successful trek. As for cats? Well, cats are cats and it might be best to leave your kitty at home in familiar territory, according to the National Humane Society.

  2. Safety first. If a car is going to be your primary transportation, make sure your dog is secured in a booster seat or dog safety seat or behind a dog barrier. You never know when he might move in for a front-seat kiss and that might not end well. A pet vehicle ramp can help a dog enter and exit your vehicle with ease and save wear and tear on his – and your – joints during potty breaks. Car seat covers can help keep your car clean for the duration of the journey. Cats should be kept in a carrier to prevent a lapful of claws.

  3. Get organized. Regardless of your mode of travel, make sure you have all of your pets’ vaccination documents and other health records. Don’t forget toys, food and water, bowls and waste bags. A Travel Organizer Kit is a great way to keep your doggie’s ducks in a row. Another thing to remember: a car dog bed that can double as a sleeping pad in hotel rooms or the home of a friend or relative.

  4. Pet-friendly skies. If you want to wing your way away, many airlines have pet-friendly policies that allow your cat or dog to tag along on your trip. For instance, American Airlines pet policies allow you to carry on a pet if the combined weight of the animal and carrier is less than 20 pounds. You can also check your animal as baggage if he or she is in an appropriate carrier. Additional fees apply for pets on most airlines, and restrictions apply. Many airlines won’t allow flat-faced dogs or cats to travel as cargo. During the heat of summer, similar restrictions apply to all animals. Also keep in mind that quarantines are required in many countries reached by international flights. Even in the U.S., however, Hawaii requires a 30-day quarantine. Check ahead with specific airlines before showing up at the airport with your pet to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Here’s an overview of airline pet policies from a third-party source.

  5. Room at the inn. Nobody wants to stay at the heartbreak hotel, so if you pine for your pets when you are traveling, there are many options for both upscale or low-cost lodging with your cat or dog. From Aloft to Motel 6 and options in between, there is room at the inn for your furry friends. Several websites maintain lists of pet-friendly hotels, but it is best to contact the front desk before arrival. Additional fees may apply. Make sure you travel with all the pet essentials, including disposable litter boxes for your feline friend. A pet travel bag can help you organize and easily find all your necessities, from food and water to bowls and toys.

  6. Hang 10 with your furry friend. The beach is a prime location to while away the dog days of summer, and it’s a great place to play with your pawed pals. From Florida to the Jersey Shore, and from California to Washington, there are even “dog beaches” where dogs are not only allowed, they are encouraged to visit. Some beach dog policies restrict the time dogs may cavort with you in the sand and surf. Myrtle Beach dog policies, for instance, only allow dogs on the beach during peak season before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m. Dogs are welcome around the clock between Labor Day and May 1. Like dog parks, dog-friendly beaches have some regulations, such as leash length and the need to pick up and dispose of dog poop. Dogs also should not be allowed to roam in the dunes to protect wild plants and animals. Check with individual municipalities before planning to take your dog to the beach. Once you know for sure, check surfboard availability because there’s nothing cuter or more photogenic than a dog catching some waves, dude.

Even though we’re all on the back end of summer, there’s still time to grab some R&R and away time with the entire family. Make your vacation a memorable one. Take your pets along to enjoy the dog days.

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