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Follow these travel tips to keep pets safe Leslie Belfor | Fri, Jul 02 2010 12:49 PM

Taking your pet with you on vacation may add a lot of enjoyment to your trip, but it is important to keep your pet’s health and safety in mind when traveling. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA) offers the following tips to help you with your travel plans this holiday weekend or any time of the year.

General travel tips:

• Prior to travel, take your pet to the veterinarian for a check-up and necessary vaccinations. Obtain health certificates and required records depending on the state or country you are visiting.

• Make sure that your pet has a current I.D. tag, is microchipped and, for dogs, have a current rabies tag. Add a temporary tag with hotel or vacation home info.

• Call ahead and make reservations at a hotel that accepts pets.

• Your pet’s travel kit should include pet food and treats, water and dishes, familiar toys, blanket or bed, travel papers, grooming supplies, waste bags, leash and color or harness, medication,  insect repellent (formulated for animals), and a pet first-aid kit.

• Bring along a current photo of your pet and identification information in the event your pet becomes lost.

Tips for travelling by car:

• Always keep your pet secure in a carrier or by a seat-belt restraining device.

Tips for travelling by airplane:

• Make sure your pet is secured in a pet carrier. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around freely. The carrier should be sturdy with adequate ventilation and an accessible water tray. Don’t forget to line the carrier with towels for comfort and to absorb any accidents.

• Book direct flights and avoid connections and layovers and, if possible, use airlines that hand carry your dog (inside the carrier) to and from the aircraft.

• Include your contact information to your pet’s carrier with a luggage tag or in permanent marker.

• Do not feed your dog four hours prior to the flight and allow water up until the flight time. Water should be available inside the cage, and give your pet fresh water as soon as you arrive at your destination.

• Be aware that air travel poses certain risks for animals with pre-existing medical problems and short-faced dog breeds such as Pugs, Pekinese and Boston Terriers.Always discuss this with your vet prior to traveling.

Realistically assess your pet’s ability to travel. If your pet is very young or old or is ill, startles easily, or doesn’t react well to strange places and people, a pet sitter or boarding may be the better option. If your pet has never traveled, take him or her on an overnight or weekend excursion before trying a lengthy long-distance trip.

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