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Tips for traveling with your pet -- Page 2

Also keep in mind that airlines have weather limitations on when they will accept animals in cargo. Generally, they refuse to accept pets when they will be exposed to extreme heat or cold; this usually is defined as colder than 45 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer than 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Some airlines, such as Northwest and American Airlines, ban pets traveling as cargo during the summer months because of the heat.

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The type of aircraft also could cause pet travel problems. More and more smaller cities are serviced by regional jets that have less space in the cargo hold. If you have a large pet, make sure that the aircraft you will be taking can transport the animal. If not, you'll have to make other, possibly more costly, arrangements.

Other types of transportation also have pets-as-passengers limits. If you're taking a cruise and want your pet along, check with your individual cruise line. Many do indeed accommodate pets. Some luxury liners even provide special lodging and free meals for dogs, according to the American Kennel Club.

"All aboard," however, apparently doesn't apply to pets. Although Amtrak allows service dogs, the rail service does not allow pets on its trains. Local and commuter trains have their own policies.

Accommodations for you and your pet
According to, more and more motel chains are accepting pets. Among those that the Web site says will permit your pet to stay in your room are Motel 6, Best Western, Howard Johnson, Ramada and Red Roof Inn. But always double check, as even within chains individual motels may have different rules. And it probably will cost you; most motels tack on a surcharge if your pet stays with you.

When staying at a motel or hotel, request a room on the ground floor for easy access for those late night walks. Also see if there is a special area for dogs to relieve themselves. Don't forget to pack easy-to-slip-into clothes so you can quickly get dressed for the overnight walk and stick a flashlight into your luggage so that you'll be able to maneuver the motel grounds more safely.

Staying with friends instead? Then check before you bring your pet along. You may find out your best friend from grade school is highly allergic to dogs and would not like yours as a house guest.

Left home, but not alone
If you decide the best vacation move is to leave your pets home, you'll need to arrange for their care while you're away.

The budget approach is to have a reliable friend, family member or neighbor visit your home, water the plants and take care of your pets. Most will do so for free or a nominal fee that you offer.

For a few dollars more, you can hire a professional pet sitter. Check local newspaper ads or call the Professional Pet Sitter Association at 1-800-296-PETS for referrals in your area.

Pets can also be boarded. Prices and services vary from posh "bed and biscuit" resorts to more utilitarian arrangements at your local vet or kennel. Ask friends or your vet for recommendations or call the American Boarding Kennel Association at 1-877-570-7788 for referrals. Regardless of which boarding option you choose, here are a few things to keep in mind and things to do:

  • Visit the facility. Is it clean? Is there an exercise area? How frequently are dogs walked? How secure is the space?
  • Ask for and check references.
  • What type of job does the kennel do in evaluating you and your dog? Reputable boarding facilities will want vaccination certifications which protect your dog and other families' dogs.
  • If you're going on an extended vacation, try a shorter "trial run" first. An overnight or a weekend stay will ensure that your pet will be happy and healthy while you're away.

Bring your dog's bed or favorite toys to the kennel. Provide emergency contact numbers (your vet, how you can be reached while traveling) so the kennel can call if there's a problem. And when the time to leave arrives, be positive and upbeat. That way both you and your pet will be able to enjoy your vacation.

Jenny C. McCune is a contributing editor based in Montana.

-- Posted: April 26, 2005




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