Summer is the ideal time for fun and relaxation for the entire family. Below are several tips that will help your family vacation with your pet. But before you embark, ensure your contact information is clearly visible on your pet’s collar and we conduct a pet check-up for a worry-free trip. Then, pack your pet’s toys, medications, bed and travel bag and let the fun begin.

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Road trips can be a great bonding experience for the entire family. And bringing your pets along can reduce stress and create great memories. But just like people, your pets need to safely travel and be protected in the event of an accident.

When traveling, be sure your pet fits comfortably (with space to sit, stand and lay down) within a secured, ventilated carrier or restrained via a harness in the back seat. Never allow your pet to travel on the lap or in the front seat—or with their head outside of the vehicle. Recall airbags deploy at an explosive speed and your pet must not be within the inflation zone. Importantly, use window shades and/or ventilation to ensure your pet’s temperature remains consistent and comfortable. Also, keep bottled water close at hand to keep your pet hydrated. Unless your pet is an experienced traveler, you may want to avoid feeding them in a moving vehicle.

If your pet tends to experience car sickness, try gingersnaps or speak with us about strategies to make your pet more comfortable during the journey.

At travel stops, be sure to leash your pet prior to opening the car doors. This will ensure your pet does not escape into unfamiliar territory, attempt to greet other pets or venture into traffic. At each stop allow your pets to stretch their legs, explore the environment and “do their business” in designated pet areas. To avoid upset stomachs or worse, ensure your pet does not eat or drink anything they find. Your family may have to visit the restroom in “shifts” to ensure your pet is never left unattended—so plan in advance. Never, under any circumstance, leave your pet alone in the car or tied outside.

Pet Road Trip

Pets can usually be transported via airplane on trips of less than 12 hours—including connections. To the greatest extent possible, always book a direct flight. Travel may be impacted by ground operation’s ability to care for your pet, periods of extreme heat or cold or the type of aircraft being used on your journey.

Traveling pets must be at least three months of age and have a fully documented health history, including a current health certificate (usually within the past 10 days). Service pets may generally fly beside people without the restrictions below.

For most airlines, small breeds may be able to fly in the cabin—depending upon the destination, time of year and provided they remain within a pet carrier that fits beneath the seat in front of you.

For pets traveling in the cargo area, pet carriers must meet USDA and airline standards—including size, weight and construction. The carrier must be large enough for your pet to sit, stand and comfortably turn around. The carrier door must be securely closed but not locked providing access in the event of an emergency. Be sure the carrier clearly displays your contact information, your pet’s name and a photo of your pet. For pet safety, the carriers must have ample ventilation (at least on two sides), be sturdy and non-collapsible, include a separate food and water bowl and contain absorbent material for spillage and “accidents.” Pets should not be sedated prior to flying. Some breeds, particularly large, aggressive or those with short noses or susceptible to respiratory issues, cannot be air transported—even with pet carriers.

By Federal law, pets must be fed and offered water four hours prior to departure. You must also affix food to the outside of the carrier along with detailed care instructions.

Because pets may require attention on longer flights, the number of pets that may be transported on any flight (including connecting flights) is regulated by each airline. You must reserve and confirm your pet’s travel plans in advance.

Airlines may charge additional fees for carry-on or checked pets. Please visit the airline’s website and personally speak with a representative to ensure all airline requirements are understood and your pet’s needs will be met.

To ensure the entire family can stay together, it’s imperative that you conduct your research upfront—particularly when traveling with large or multiple pets. While some hotel chains permit pets—it’s possible local franchises may not.

Your trip should start with a visit to Bring Fido, GoPetFriendly or the website of your chosen hotel. Be sure to indicate the number and size/weight of your pets so there are no unwelcome check-in surprises or denials.

Pets in a Hotel

When selecting a room, seek a non-smoking room on the ground floor—minimizing the impact of any late-night visits to designated pet areas. If unavailable, seek a room away from the elevators, ice machines or other sources of noise as this will enable your pet to rest more comfortably in a new environment. To help ease the transition, place their food, water and bed in a prominent location along with a favorite toy. When opening doors, be sure to first secure your pet to prevent the “inner escape artist” from getting out. Also, never leave your pet unattended in the room—even for just a few minutes.

Be aware that most hotels charge a one-time cleaning or nightly pet fee. The size of these fees may influence which hotels you select.

Visiting Family and Friends
Upon arriving at your destination, allow your pet time to become accustomed to their new surroundings. Show them where their food, water and bathroom areas will be. And slowly introduce them to other pets and family members to prevent fear and potentially aggressive reactions due to a new environment.

If your hosting family is not use to pets, it will be a learning experience for all. As changing pet behavior takes time, seeking forgiveness for bringing old pet habits (laying on a sofa, sleeping on beds, etc.) will be essential to remain in the good graces of your host. Employ a critical eye when establishing your pet’s boundaries in their new environment—keeping them away from breakables, heirlooms, expensive furniture and white carpet.

Also, sleep lightly the first night—being aware of your pet’s needs. Your pet may seek to explore or wonder (startling others)—or they may need to use the restroom at different hours due to the disruption of their routine. By the second night, everyone should settle in on their new schedule and more comfortably relax.

Restaurants are increasingly accommodating to pets when eating outdoors—so inquire before deciding upon the restaurant. When selecting a table, choose one on the outer-fringes of the service area so you will have added space for your pet. Ask the waitperson for a bowl of water and be sure to keep your pet on a leash to prevent wondering or “begging” from fellow restaurant-goers. For added service and treats, personally introduce your pet to the wait staff.

Pet in a Restaurant

Recall, not everyone is a pet lover and some may feel uncomfortable in close proximity. So be mindful of your pet’s actions and potential encroachment upon the space of others.

Pet Hotels
In situations when your pet just cannot accompany you, consider a pet hotel or kennel. Ask us, your friends and family members for recommendations of clean and caring pet facilities—and then conduct your research. Review state licensing requirements and the kennel’s certificates along with comments on Yelp! and the Better Business Bureau.

When you arrive, assess the cleanliness, temperature, light, flooring and size of the overall facility and individual kennels. Inquire about feeding and exercise schedules, availability of fresh water and your pet’s access to an outdoor run. In addition to inquiring about daily rates, ask about the ability to view your pet via a web camera so you can monitor your pet’s disposition. A few added dollars to see your pet from afar can make a world of difference.

Prior to boarding your pet, please contact us to verify they have the necessary shots to ensure a healthy stay around many other pets.

Before embarking on your vacation, let us know about your travel plans. We can ensure your pets have the necessary vaccinations and are properly microchipped (your current contact and Kirkwood Animal Hospital’s information) so you can be reunited in the event of a separation. Also, be sure to bring your pet’s first aid kit and enter our contact information into your smartphone so we’re just one call away.

We hope you have a great vacation, and please share your stories and photographs of your pet “on holiday” with us. We would love to see them!

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