TRAVEL WITH YOUR PET
Your dog or cat will enhance the next family vacation -- as long as you follow a few simple rules.
DO: Research an airline's pet policy. Many have requirements for vaccines and won't accept pets during the hottest and coldest months. Some will allow animals in the cabin if the carrier fits under the seat, while others will only let them in the baggage area below.
DO: Secure your pet in a crate while driving. Otherwise, if there's an accident, your animal won't be protected. But don't put more than one pet in a crate: Even if your dogs and cats are best buddies at home, they could lash out under the stress of travel.
DON'T: Sedate your pet. You may think it will help him relax, but unless your vet recommends it, a tranquilizer could actually make your pet more anxious in unfamiliar surroundings -- and cause breathing problems at high altitudes.
DON'T: Forget to visit the vet and the groomer. Ask the vet to check for any latent health problems that could be triggered by stress. Have the groomer trim your pet's nails (so they don't snag) and comb out any matted fur (uncomfortable to a pet in a carrier).
Calling all pawsengers! Thanks to Pet Airways, our furry friends don't have to fly in cargo. The pets-only planes transport animals in spacious individual crates stored in lighted cabins, where they're checked on every 15 minutes in-flight. The airline offers special pet lounges before boarding, and owners can track the flight's progress online. (petairways.com; one-way fares from $149)
Exploring is better with a canine BFF by your side. Claudia Kawczynska -- editor-in-chief of The Bark magazine and an editor of the anthology Dog Is My Co-Pilot -- briefs us on pet-friendly places to stay.
This hip nationwide hotel chain is totally pet-obsessed, as evidenced by the cooing staff that presents your dog with a bag of gourmet treats and a chew toy upon arrival. At the Muse Hotel in New York, the director of pet services can arrange side-by-side massages for pet and owner ($150). All hotels offer complimentary beds and bowls and can arrange dog-walking services. (kimptonhotels.com for locations; doubles from $99)
It's not the fanciest spot, but after a long day on the road, a Motel 6 is a good place to rest your weary bones -- and you won't have to sneak in Fido. The ubiquitous chain welcomes pets into their tidy rooms; American Kennel Club members receive a discount. (motel6.com for locations; doubles from $40, with a 10% discount to AKC members)
Kampgrounds of America
Regular campers have trained their eyes to pick up that yellow KOA logo on interstate signs across the country. The generally clean, dog-friendly campgrounds offer showers, tent lots, RV hookups and log cabins. Some even have dog meadows and agility courses. (koa.com, dog rates and policies vary; tent lots from $34, cabins from $61)
CHECK FOR STRESS
A pooch may tremble and cower, or he raise the fur on his shoulders and show his canine teeth. He'll also pant, drool, and pace more than usual. Another sign of distress: Yawning. You'll know your dog is stressed and not just sleepy if he's also whimpering, darting his eyes around, or making stiff, jerky motions with his tail.
A kitty will have dilated (enlarged) pupils. She'll likely try to look smaller by crouching and tucking in her paws and tail, and she may retreat to a low, hidden area. Other signs of stress in a cat include flicking of the tail, heavy drooling, excessive grooming, bristled fur, and hissing. Many cats purr as a way to calm themselves. - Christine Richmond
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*Prices and other details were accurate when we published this article in July 2010.