how to travel with your petsDo you want to travel with your pets? More and more Americans are answering “yes” to this question. An American Pet Products Association survey revealed that the percentage of American pet owners who travel with their furry friends increased from 19 percent in 2005 to 37 percent in 2015.

The surge in people who want their dogs and cats to travel with them has spurred numerous travel-related businesses to change their policies on pets. Pet Travel Inc. founder Susan Smith told the Chicago Tribune that the number of pet-friendly hotels has increased from about 1,900 in the late 1990s to between 30,000 and 40,000 in 2016. Amtrak began allowing pets on its trains in 2014. Airlines are now so accommodating to pet owners that more than two million pets and “other live animals” fly on airplanes in the U.S. each year, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported.

Pet owners should be grateful that American society and its business community has become more pet-friendly, but the changes have made it more important to know how to travel with your pets. Here are some tips:

Prepare for Emergencies:

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that you carry a lot of information with you in case your pet needs medical attention. The information includes medical records, a list of medications your pet is taking, the phone number of your veterinarian, and a list of veterinarians and veterinary hospitals in the cities you’re traveling to. In addition, many states require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection that includes proof your pet has been vaccinated, and many airlines require an Acclimation Certificate.

Prepare Your Pet for Travel:

Is your pet used to traveling? Many pet travel experts recommend taking your pet on short car trips before it goes on a long car trip vacation. Taking your pet to a local park via car might make him or her more comfortable with extensive travel. You should also make your pet more comfortable traveling with a harness — and you don’t want to take your eyes off the road to deal with a moving pet. Some pets should NEVER travel by air. The American Humane Association recommends that puppies, kittens, sick pets, pregnant pets, and pets in heat not fly. In addition, pets with pushed-in faces such as bulldogs shouldn’t fly.

Make Your Pet Comfortable:

Is your pet more comfortable in a particular pet bed with a particular blanket? If so, you should bring those items with you because your pet loooves being at home and wants to feel it is still at home. Bring your pet’s favorite toys, its favorite water bowl, its favorite food bowl, etc. And please try to stick to your same routines while you’re on the road. If your dog is used to taking a walk at seven a.m., eating at noon and six p.m. and taking walks after those meals, try to stick to those routines.

Be Considerate of Others:

If your pet gets upset when it’s left alone, do everything you can not to leave it alone because it might get more upset when it’s left alone in a strange place like a hotel. A dog left alone might bark and upset your neighbors. Putting a “do not disturb” sign on your door if you leave your dog alone might prevent it from getting upset by a maid. Playing background noise could also calm a pet who has to be alone briefly. In addition, make sure you don’t permit your pet to run around and disturb others at rest stops, gas stations, camping sites, etc. Use a leash — and clean up its mess.

Learn Airlines’ Rules:

Learning airlines’ pet policies is very important if flying is part of your travel plan. This article lists links to 11 airlines’ rules that will help you decide which airline to use and how to prepare your pet for a flight. This article lists requirements imposed on airlines by the Animal Welfare Act. A few things to know — some airlines restrict breed or size, some airlines permit pets in the passenger cabin as “baggage” with you, and nonstop flights are recommended. Also: Don’t feed your pet within six hours of the flight, and make sure it is comfortable with its kennel — and it is secure.

Before traveling, you should have your pet examined by a veterinarian to make sure it is healthy enough to travel. You should also confirm that the microchip (that should already be implanted in your pet) has current contact information so you can maximize the chances that you can be reached in case your pet is lost during an airplane flight or elsewhere.

THE most important thing you can do, though, is know your pet. You want to be with your pet at all times, and generally it always wants to be with you. However, you should think about whether your pet’s personality is suited for travel before it travels with you. Pet-sitters are an alternative.

Hopefully, though, your pet will enjoy the adventures of traveling as much as you do.

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