Travel Guide: Making Room For Furry Friends

Many of us would have a much more enjoyable time on a family vacation if we could bring our beloved pets along to partake of the fun. Sadly, our logical minds usually decide it’s too much hassle to make room in the backseat for our furry friends, or we don’t want to hear incessant barking or meowing for hours, or we don’t want to bother finding a hotel or motel that accommodates pets. It’s actually very simple to plan a trip with your dog or cat in mind. Here are some tips that will make things much easier for those traveling with pets:

(1) Make sure you have an appropriate travel carrier. Depending on what kind of pet you have and what kind of vehicle you will be traveling in, carrier sizes vary. I don’t recommend allowing dogs, especially large dogs, to have free reign in the vehicle. A medium-sized cage with plenty of room for your pet to look out and take part in the action should be fine.

If you’re traveling with a cat, you’ll want to clean and perhaps reline the cage and its cushion before the trip; cats will remember their smell from before and won’t be too happy about a “dirty” cage. If your cage didn’t come with any cushioning, you might consider cutting up old t-shirts, wadding cotton inside, and taping the shirts to create a comfy pillow. This way when roads get rough, your little fur-baby won’t be bruised.

(2) Take a separate suitcase just for your pet. This may seem like a hassle but it really isn’t that bad. Your suitcase (or bag, purse, etc.) should include (1) newspapers – just incase he or she can’t reach the litterbox or go out for a walk in time; (2) water bowls and both wet and dry food bowls; (3) water bottles, since chlorine water isn’t good for pets; (4) any special treats or toys that you think will help make the trip easier; (5) a collar and leash if you intend to take your pet outside at all; (6) a litterbox and plenty of litter if you are taking a cat; (7) different varieties of wet and dry food; and (8) sleeping gear for your pet. This would include an enclosed area if you’re not going to let him roam at night, a sleeping pillow, a robe to lie on, etc.

(3) Keep in mind that pets (much like people) will need plenty of rest stops. Dogs simply won’t wait to be walked, and cats will wail for their litterbox. You’ll want to get pets out at a quiet spot, away from the traffic and noises of the main road. If you stop at a visitor center with walking paths, take your pet away from the main hubbub to do their business. If you’re taking a cat who is anything like mine and will simply refuse to use the litterbox at all while traveling, be prepared to have her hold it in until the hotel room.

(4) Don’t get angry at pets for causing noise. If your dog or cat has never been away from home before, there will probably be some loud protests. Stick a safe toy through the bars in the carrier and keep him or her entertained when whining begins; it will soon be quiet if you can get their minds on something else. If the barking or meowing *doesn’t* stop immediately, let time take its course. Animals will often get bored when they see you’re not going to cater to them, and they’ll accept defeat.

(5) If you’re vacationing at a time of year when fleas and ticks are abundant, make sure to use a flea collar or some kind of medicinal treatment on your pet before going outside. It will save you a lot of trouble in the future. If your pet seems to have a bite or be in any pain, monitor him for signs of illness and keep him away from the great outdoors for awhile. You’ll always want to keep furry family members out of mud and any other substance that can be transferred to the backseat of your car.

(6) Before leaving your home, you’ll need to check out hotels in the area where you will be staying. Many won’t accommodate animals and you don’t want to discover that fact when you arrive. You will want to not only see if they allow pets, but also if there is an extra fee for those pets. It’s better to know ahead of time than to arrive at your destination and find out that no local hotels allow your cat or dog. Chances are, there will be at least one pet-friendly hotel at your destination of choice, so do a thorough search.

By Lacie R. Schaeffer

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