2010 Spring Auto Guide
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Safe and comfortable pet-travel tips

Whether it's a trip to the veterinarian, to the park or a longer jaunt with the family, traveling with a pet can be fun -- but a little intimidating if you aren't sure how to keep the people and the pets in the car happy and safe. Follow these simple tips to ensure that your ride goes smoothly.

Buckle up

Loose animals can be distracting, but more importantly, they can get hurt or injure their human friends if the driver makes a sudden move or gets in a collision. According to Bark Buckle Up, a pet travel safety company, a 15-pound pet can cause an impact of more than 675 pounds in a 35-mile-per-hour crash, while a 60-pound dog can cause an impact of 2,700 pounds in the same crash. To see the different options available for securing your pet in the car, read "10 doggone ways to make pet travel easy."

Never leave pet alone

Not even for a few minutes. Temperatures can reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit very quickly in a parked vehicle -- a dangerous temperature, according to the Federal Emergency Management Association, or FEMA. Even with the windows open slightly, high temperatures can cause heatstroke, brain damage and suffocation.

Prevent lost pets

On the road, it's more likely for a pet to run away, since it's in an unfamiliar location. Make sure your pet's ID tags and microchip information are updated and include your cellular phone number, as well as your veterinarian's contact info. Consider using a pet safety service that will provide your pet's info if you can't be reached or get Bark Buckle Up's free pet safety kit. The kit comprises a card for your glove box with a pet photo, critical data, emergency contacts, plus a first responder decal for your car window, directing authorities to the glove box so they can locate the information in the event of an accident.

Taking a road trip

For longer road trips, make sure your pet is up-to-date on all his shots and check the state requirements if you are traveling out-of-state, since they can differ from one state to another. If your pet is not used to riding in the car, take a shorter test trip to get him used to it and make his space more comfortable with a favorite blanket or quiet toy.

If you'll be in the car for a while, make water available during the drive and take regular "rest" stops for your pet to eliminate and get some exercise. Feed him at his usual times unless he experiences motion sickness. To see some gadgets that make pet travel easier, read "10 doggone ways to make pet travel easy."

Around town

Whether it's around your hometown or one you are visiting, most communities have plenty of pet-friendly places, such as outdoor shopping malls and outdoor cafes, so you can take your pet with you around town. If you are unfamiliar with the area, ask an area resident who has a pet for recommendations for pet-friendly places you can visit. While some pet-friendly locations offer fresh water, it's a good idea to bring along your own water source, particularly if the weather is warm.

In hotels

It's easier than ever to bring your pet with you on a trip thanks to many pet-friendly hotels and numerous websites that cater to traveling with pets, such as PetsWelcome.com, PetsOnTheGo.com and DogFriendly.com. Pet-friendly hotels do, however, charge for this privilege, with fees ranging from $25 to up to $500 (at the swankiest resorts where pets are pampered).

When you want to leave your hotel and you can't take the pet with you, don't expect him to stay in the room alone, according to Chris Kingsley, co-founder of PetsWelcome.com, who says more than 50 percent of the hotels listed on that site won't allow it.

Kingsley recommends using pet sitters in the city where you are vacationing who will allow your pet to visit in their home and get some companionship. Many larger tourist attractions, including the Disney Theme Parks, Sea World locations and the Universal Studios Parks offer kennels for a nominal fee on site. This allows you to visit your pet during the day for a bit of play time or to minimize anxiety.

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