'Beau & Coda in the Car' by Nicole Engard on FlickrEnlarge Photo
Tip #5: Squeeze the breeze
Many pets -- especially dogs -- love to feel the breeze of an open window as they zoom down the road. It's not the safest way to travel, but if you're inclined to let Rex have his way, be sure the window is cracked just enough for him to get his snout out. If your car has electric windows, engage the lock; that'll keep your pooch from accidentally lowering them -- and potentially leaping out of the car to chase that tasty-looking armadillo.
Tip #6: Let the water flow
As we mentioned in our list of hurricane evacuation tips just last week, it's crucial that you provide plenty of water for your pets to consume on the road. It's not just a matter of hydration, it also keeps them cool, which is doubly important when your car's stuck in traffic on a hot stretch of blacktop.
Tip #7: Carry plenty of kibble
Most vets recommend against changing a pet's food too often. Humans love variety in their diet, but for companion animals, consistency is key. Feeding them the same food they get at home -- at the same time they normally get it -- will give your pets a comforting routine in their strange, new environment. This goes double for pets who are inclined to be nervous and jittery.
Tip #8: Never leave your pet in the car
Surely you don't need to be reminded about this one, but just to be on the safe side: don't do it. We're watching.
Tip #9: If all else fails, kennel
So you get to your destination, and Bowser is having problems. He's rambunctious, he's aggressive with other guests at the hotel, or something else has gone haywire that's sending your vacation rapidly downhill. Don't lose your cool -- some pets just aren't cut out for travel, and you may not figure that out until you're on the road. You can still salvage the family vacation: just ask around for nearby kennels, and give your pet a break.
If you haven't boarded your pet in a while, you're in for a pleasant surprise. There are plenty of kennels available today that seem more like spas than the ugly cages you remember from childhood. (Some of us who travel in the South like PetParadise, but there are many others to choose from.) If you feel especially guilty, drop by once a day to say hello -- but don't be surprised if your pet drops you like a hot rock once other critters bound onto the playground.
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As we said above, traveling with a pet is never easy -- it takes preparation, and it's likely to boost the price of your vacation, too. But if you're looking for a memorable getaway experience, it'll be time and money very well spent.