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Traveling Safely With Your Pets

By Samantha-Rae Tuthill, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
February 13, 2013; 10:13 AM ET

With summer just days away, many people have their calendars marked with countdowns to their favorite vacations. There are a lot of things to consider when planning your trip, from what to bring to how your route looks to what you're going to do with your pets. Do you have a house sitter who will come take care of your animals when you're gone? Is there a reliable kennel nearby? Or maybe you're going somewhere they are welcome, too?

Plane tickets for people carrying their pets can be incredibly expensive, and pets that need to fly in the cargo hold don't always survive the trip. If you're taking a vacation with your pet, driving may be your cheapest and safest option. To ensure that you are indeed keeping your pets safe this way, it's important to know how to drive with them in the car.

Inga Fricke, Director of Sheltering and Pet Care Issues at the Humane Society of the United States, says that the best thing you can do to take care of your pets on a road trip is plan ahead.

"You need to plan ahead on two fronts," Fricke said. "First, you need to practice with your pet. Get them ready to be in their crate or carrier ahead of time, so you don't suddenly have them in a carrier and also moving in a car."

Photo courtesy of someToast

Fricke advises that pets should never be left loose in a car, no matter how well behaved they are.

"If they get startled, say a loud truck gets too close, even a well-behaved pet can panic and act out," she said.

You also want to be sure that your pet will stay safe in the event of an accident. A pet loose in the backseat has virtually no protection in a car crash. A sturdy crate or carrier could mean the difference between life and death for an animal.

The second way Fricke advises you plan ahead is to have your travel route prepared. Knowing where you can stay the night at a pet-friendly hotel, for example, can make your travels significantly easier.

"You don't want to be ready to stop for the night and unable to find accommodations that will allow your pet. That will just add stress to you, which will add stress to your pet as well," Fricke said.

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Another big part of planning your trip is knowing how to make stops that won't require you to leave your pet in the car. Whether it's packing your lunches in a cooler to stop and eat at a rest stop or knowing where there will be drive-throughs you can just swing by, you should have a plan to eat that won't require you to leave your pet alone in the car.

"It's so important, especially in the summer, to never leave an animal in the car for any length of time," Fricke warns.

Even with the windows slightly cracked, a car on a hot summer day can quickly heat to dangerous levels, hot enough to bake cookies in.

Always keep leashes off your dogs in the car. If it gets tangled on anything and you have to stop suddenly, your pet could seriously injure their necks. Have the leash readily accessible so you can hook your dog up quickly and easily when you go to take them out.

Photo courtesy of jodimarr

Putting proper identification on your pets is also crucial when you plan for a road trip, in case it gets loose and lost in an unfamiliar area. If your pet is microchipped, make sure the contact information on your account is up to date. If you have an I.D. tag on your pet's collar, make sure it has a contact number you can be reached on while traveling. If your pet's tag has your home number, that won't help if you're on the road. Consider putting on a temporary emergency contact tag number with your cell phone or the number of a family member or friend who will be home while you're on your trip.

Make sure you have plenty of supplies for your pet. When you make stops take time to give your animal some water. It's important to keep your pets hydrated. Your normal routine will be thrown off when you're on the road, so it's important to still remember to feed and water your pets as much as you do at home so they can have a comfortable ride.

Heat stroke in dogs is a condition that occurs when the dog's body is absorbing more heat than it can release. When this happens, the temperature inside the dog's body begins to climb. Once the temperature reaches a certain point, the dog's body is unable to regulate normal functions, and the result is a heat stroke. Once the heat stroke occurs, damage to the dog's muscles, organs, and metabolic processes can occur. Heat stroke in dogs is a potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical treatment.
So, what can you do to avoid heat stroke for your furry friend this summer?

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