BT HANDBOOK

Why Leave Your Pet at Home?

There are ways to make pet travel safer, easier, and more enjoyable—for both you and your pet.

By , Tuesday, May 20, 2008, 11:30 AM

Planning
If you're going to the beach or a state or national park, check the pet policy. I almost left for a beach trip only to find out at the last minute that during peak travel season, the city doesn't allow dogs on the beach. Julie Garrou, Charlottesville, Va.

I use petswelcome.com to search for hotels where my Welsh corgi, Kelsey, can stay. Kathy Casey, Barrington, Ill.

Health & Safety
Have a vet implant a microchip in your pet. It's a one-minute procedure (costing $20-$100) in which a tiny capsule is injected under loose skin on a pet's neck. If your dog or cat gets lost and turns up at a shelter or vet's office, a scanner can be used to read the number on the chip, and the microchip company will contact you. Patrick Kwan, New York, N.Y.

Mark your pet's carrier with important medical information—such as any allergies and your vet's phone number—and bring enough medication to get you through an extra week in case of bad weather or other major problems. Amanda Landis-Hanna, San Diego, Calif.

Packing
Collapsible water bowls, which you can buy at Wal-Mart for $5, are easy to carry on hikes and are great for hotel rooms. And they take up hardly any space. Kelly Kirk, Gainesville, Fla.

Before a road trip, I measure out each of our chocolate Lab's meals and put them in Ziploc bags. Then I write the date and time of the meal on each bag—that way I know I'll have enough food for every meal. I also put Jack's medicine in the bags, so I don't forget to give it to him. I always pack one or two extra bags, just in case. Jennifer Zipeto, Havertown, Pa.

My fiancé and I never take Sadie, our Jack Russell terrier, anywhere without our "doggie bag." It's filled with cleaning wipes, plastic bags, paper towels, and enzymatic cleaner. If Sadie has an accident, I won't have to ask my host for something to clean it up. Being prepared (even if you're only going away for a day) is the key to having your pet welcomed back. Amanda Dameron, Boston, Mass.

I order a small bag of my dog's food and ship it to my hotel. This keeps my luggage weight down, ensures she has the food she likes, and saves me from having to find a pet store. The hotel staff is generally fine about accepting such packages, as long as I warn them ahead of time. Gina Beyer, New York, N.Y.

In the back of my pickup truck, I keep milk jugs that I've filled up with tap water. The water in other cities is often chlorinated or treated, and sometimes my dogs won't drink it. Nicole Holten, Payette, Idaho.

Flying
Before flying with your dog in a carry-on bag, get him used to it by putting him in it when you run errands. Also, adjust your dog's eating and pooping habits to suit your flight schedule. And when stowing your dog under the seat on the plane, leave a small opening in his carrier so he can see you. Betsy Adams, Falmouth, Mass.

As soon as I board the plane, I ask a flight attendant to check with the baggage handlers to make sure my dog, Caye, has been loaded safely in the cargo space. They're happy to do it, and it gives me peace of mind. Use a marker to write your contact info on the crate, or hang an extra dog tag on it. Also, keep a photo of your pet with you. Allie E. Almario, Incline Village, Nev.

If you're shipping a pet as air cargo, fill cups with water and freeze them overnight. That keeps the water from spilling in the crate, and the water lasts longer. In hot weather, invest in a MiraCool mat for the bottom of the crate. You soak the pad in cold water for about 30 minutes, and it keeps pets cool for hours. The mat costs $15-$40 and is reusable. Janis Paquette, Hendersonville, N.C.

Driving
Once our Yorkie, Puddin', understood that he could no longer ride in my lap, he grew to love his dog car seat. Kyjen makes one called Outward Hound that costs $18-$30. Fran Jones, Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Our cocker spaniel, Molly, traveled with us from Maine to Florida, and the biggest challenge on the trip was eating. We'd locate on a map a rest area or state park that we'd be passing around lunch-time, and we'd start looking for fast-food options an exit or two before the park. Then we'd hit a drive-through and have a picnic. Kathy Hart, Willow Spring, N.C.

Our cat, Peter Parker, yowls and yowls in the car. We found that spreading a thin layer of butter on his feet just before we put him in his carrying case gives him something else to do with his mouth. Sarah Gallagher, Hurlock, Md.

Hotels
We let the housekeepers know that our Westie, Pooh Bear, is inside the room and they don't have to clean it. The housekeepers are appreciative, and they always ask if we need anything. Sara Studebaker, Loveland, Ohio

A ground-floor room is convenient when your dog needs to go out, and it also makes it easier to get a crate in and out of the hotel. Crating your pet allows you to leave the room without worrying about accidents or chewed furniture. Kim Sanders, Phoenixville, Pa.

We travel often with our Wheaten terrier and Kuvasz. Both are usually quiet, but the Kuvasz will growl if he senses a threat. Now we request a room at the end of a hall, so there'll be little traffic. We've also found that it's smart to pack sweats to throw on for early-morning walks. Fran and Joe Mazzara, Welches, Ore.

When I go out, I secure my dog in the bathroom with a baby gate. Most bathrooms have hard floors, making accidents easier to clean. And she's not as surprised when the housekeepers come in because she can see them. Kim Greenfield, Oakland, Tenn.

WHY LEAVE YOUR PET AT HOME?