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Smart Tips for Traveling With Your Pet

8 ways to keep your cat or dog safe and healthy on vacation

  • Buckle up. Pets should ride inside crates or be in safety restraints and ride in pet hammocks or pet care seats located in the middle or cargo area — never on laps or in the front passenger seat. Christina Selter, founder of the Bark Buckle UP pet safety program, cautions that unrestrained pets can become driving distractions and can become deadly projectiles in collisions. We wear seat belts — our pets should be safely restrained as well.

  • Beat the heat. Attach a crate fan to help keep your pet cool during the drive. Freeze a couple of gallon jugs of water and position them so your pet can curl up around them to keep cool — instant air conditioning! Senior pets and dogs or cats with flat faces or short noses (such as pugs, bulldogs and Persians) can quickly succumb to heat extremes.

  • Clean up your act. Make sure your four-legged travel companion has been bathed, groomed and is free of fleas before staying in a hotel.

  • Dial “S” for safety. If you have a smartphone, download a photo of your pet to show in case he gets lost during the road trip. Keep a photo of your pet in your glove compartment, too.
  • Keep grounded. Unless your pet can fly in a climate-controlled cabin with you or aboard Pet Airways, do not transport them in the cargo area of a commercial airlines during the hot summer months.
  • Leave 'em home. If you’ve got a rowdy dog or an easily agitated cat, don’t bring him along with you on vacation. Instead, leave him at home under the care of a professional pet sitter or trusted friend or relative.

Dr. Marty Becker, "America's Veterinarian," is the resident veterinarian for Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show. His latest book, Your Dog: The Owner’s Manual, became available this spring. Find him in the AARPPetPals forum of

You may also like: The truth about pet safety.

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