Summer days bring cherished memories as you, your family, and your pet play, travel, or relax in the sun. But summer’s lazy days shouldn’t interrupt your four-legged family member’s regular care routine, nor should you let down your guard with summer’s heat and humidity, which can be dangerous to him or her. Careful planning, conscientious care, and a little common sense will ensure you and your furry family member can enjoy everything summer has to offer.

Plan Ahead

Taking your dog or cat along for a family trip can be fun for everyone, but it requires careful planning. Pet-friendly hotels tend to fill up fast, so book your reservation as soon as possible. Check with the hotel about any pet restrictions or specific rules so that everything goes smoothly on check-in day. It’s a great idea to take your pet for a checkup at the vet before leaving on your trip. Make sure that all vaccinations are up to date, and ask for copies of the records to keep with you. It’s also important for pets to wear their rabies tags at all times, so have an up-to-date tag fastened securely on their collars. Pack plenty of food, treats, and water, as well as a travel-friendly food and water bowl for frequent stops.

Be Conscious Of The Heat

Dogs do not sweat like humans. In fact, the only sweat glands on a dog’s body are near their paws. This does very little to cool your pup. To aid in the cooling process, your dog pants. To help combat summer’s heat and humidity, monitor Fido’s outdoor time and never leave him in the car. Have an adequate supply of fresh water and a travel dish readily available and take frequent breaks to offer your four-legged friend a water break.

Traveling By Car

Pets should always be kept in the backseat of a vehicle. Front-seat airbags can be deadly to them, so the backseat is a much safer choice. Also, even if your dog enjoys the wind in his face, be sure to keep his head inside the vehicle at all times. And never leave your pets alone in the car on hot days – remember that even on an 80-degree day (which is relatively cool for a summer day in North Carolina), the temperature inside a car can skyrocket to over 100 in just 10 minutes! During a car trip, cats should always be confined in carriers for their own safety and dogs should never be free to roam around the backseat. Loose dogs are very dangerous to themselves, and you – in the event of an accident, an 80-pound dog could really do some damage. The safest way for a dog to travel in a vehicle is in a crate that has been securely fastened with a seatbelt. If this isn’t an option, or if your dog becomes extremely nervous in crates, you may want to purchase a bucket-like pet seat with a secure buckle for a smaller dog. For larger dogs with crate anxiety, a zipline-like contraption is a great choice – this fastens to the inside roof of your car and hooks onto your dog’s harness, so the dog can walk freely from window to window in the backseat while still being secure.

Traveling By Air

Animal health specialists have determined that air travel is not a safe choice for pets, especially breeds with flattened (or “brachycephalic”) faces like bulldogs, pugs, Persian cats, etc., because they have the most difficulty breathing. The cargo area of airplanes is often susceptible to extreme temperatures, so if you must fly, try to bring your pet along with you in the cabin. Small dogs or cats are usually allowed on board (for a fee), but you will need to call the airline in advance to confirm this option. If your pet must fly in the cargo area, there are a number of precautions you can take to make her experience as safe as possible, so check with the airline and your veterinarian.

Pack for Prevention

– Current vaccination record: It’s important to have your pets visit their veterinarian on a regular basis to keep them up to date on vaccinations as well as preventatives. Check with your veterinarian prior to your departure to be sure your pet is covered on all vaccinations and preventatives that would be pertinent to your destination area. Bring a copy of your pet’s medical record with you in case of an emergency.
– Identification tags: It is recommended, even if your pooch is microchipped, to have two sets of tags to accompany your pet during travel. One set should include your current address and contact number. The second should have your destination address and contact number.
– Food: Be sure to pack your pet’s regular food to take along with you on your vacation. Any sudden change of diet could upset your pet’s stomach and result in vomiting or diarrhea … not enjoyable for you or your pet while on vacation.
– Call ahead: Many places (including campgrounds) do not allow pets. Confirm that it’s permissible to bring your pet before you leave. Several books on the market contain state-by-state listings of hotels, motels, and inns that welcome pets.
– Pack a lead and tie out: Attach the lead before you open the door for your pet’s safety.
– Bring toys: To keep your pet from becoming bored, bring his favorite toys on your trip. Balls to fetch outside and bones to chew on in the car will help to keep him occupied.
– Pack a first aid kit for your pet: It’s always a good idea to have one handy, just in case he gets injured while away from home.
– Cover the seats: A shedding pet can change the appearance of your car seats forever; pet hair is tough to get out. Car seat covers are an excellent investment if you want to retain the value of your vehicle and keep it looking clean.
– Provide plenty of exercise for your pup before you leave ... doing so will help your pet relax and enjoy the trip.
– Clean up after your pet ... in addition to keeping the great outdoors clean, cleaning up after your pet should be done out of consideration for others who are also out enjoying it. Keep an ample supply of waste bags on hand when traveling.
– Have your pet travel on an empty stomach: Car sickness is more likely if your pet has a full stomach. If the trip is long, feed her a smaller amount than normal, at least two hours before you leave.
– Restrain your pet during travel: keep everyone in the car safe while on the road by containing your pet with a harness, pet seat, barrier, wire crate, or plastic crate. It’s the safest way to travel for both you and your pet.
– Bring any medications your pet is taking.

Traveling with pets can be a fun, memorable experience, but it is also a big responsibility. Carefully plan your trip so that you and your dog or cat can enjoy an easy, stress-free journey. A quick visit with your veterinarian and a reservation at a pet-friendly hotel will go a long way in making your trip go as smoothly as possible.

Remember – a life with pets is fun and full of surprises. It’s up to you to be as prepared as possible.