PET CORNER: Plan for pets when doing holiday traveling

Guest Columnist

Christmas is truly enhanced by the presence of a furry friend. But if you are traveling for Christmas and are considering take you pet along, it is important that you do some planning to make sure everything goes smoothly and as stress free as possible for both you and the four-legged members of your family.

If you’re planning to take a car trip with pets in tow, here are some tips to help ensure a safe and comfortable journey:

• Prepare a pet travel kit. The kit should include water, a bowl, waste bags, leash and possibly a familiar blanket or toy. You should also be sure to bring food, medications, vaccination records and your pet’s veterinarian information.

• Buckle up. According to AAA, about 30,000 accidents are caused each year by an unrestrained dog in the front seat. Pets freely wondering are a distraction to the driver and are more likely to be injured in an accident. You can help ensure a safe trip by restraining your furry friend with a pet barrier, pet seat belt, pet car seat or travel crate. A well-ventilated crate is best for cats. Cats can find car rides stressful. It is best to practice driving short distances with your cat in the crate to acclimate them.

• Pit stops. The American Veterinary Medical Association advises pet owners to stop every two to three hours for your pet to use the bathroom or litter box, get some exercise and a drink of water.

• Don’t leave them alone. If you are heading some place warm don’t forget that on an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car with the windows cracked can reach 110 degrees in 10 minutes, which can be deadly. If you’ll be visiting a destination where pets aren’t allowed and they cannot be left where you are staying, look for a pet daycare.

If you are thinking about flying to your destination, you’ll want to think through all your options before booking a flight for your pet. Here are some important things to consider:

• Air travel can be risky for pets. The Humane Society of the United States recommends that you weigh all the risks when deciding whether to transport your pet by airplane. Air travel is dangerous for animals with “pushed in” faces (“brachycephalic”), such as bulldogs, pugs and Persian cats. Their short nasal passages leave them especially vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke.

• If you decide to fly with your pet, choose the cabin when possible. Most airlines will allow you to take a cat or small dog in the cabin for an additional fee. But you must call the airline well in advance.

• Be aware of the dangers of flying your pet in a cargo hold. While most animals flown in the cargo area of airplanes are fine, you should be aware that animals are killed, injured or lost on commercial flights each year. Excessive temperatures, poor ventilation and rough handling are often to blame.

• More important tips. Use direct flights. Travel on the same flight as your pet. When you board the plane, notify the captain and flight attendants that your pet is in the cargo hold. Early morning or late evening flights are better in the summer; afternoon flights are better in the winter. Affix a travel label to the carrier. Give your pet a month before your flight to become familiar with the travel carrier. Do not give your pet tranquilizers unless prescribed by your veterinarian. Do not feed your pet for four to six hours before the trip. Carry a current photograph of your pet. When you arrive at your destination, examine your pet. If anything seems wrong, take your pet to a veterinarian immediately.

Like Santa Claus making that long journey from the North Pole, it’s estimated that more than 90 million Americans will travel this 2017 holiday season, according to a survey conducted by Extended Stay America hotels and Kelton Global. Nearly three-quarters of those Americans have pets and could be traveling with them. Always be sure that your pet has proper identification such as a microchip. No matter how careful you are, accidents can happen and your pet can escape. All of the things discussed can help assure safe and stress free travel for everyone.

This holiday season, Manistee County Humane Society asks you to consider sharing your blessings with those less fortunate. If you can, please give generously to provide care for needy animals in our area. Homeward Bound appreciates any help you can provide! Send your donations to MCHS, P.O. Box 144, Manistee MI 49660.

Deb Green is the vice president of the Manistee County Humane Society. She can be reached at


Homeward Bound Animal Shelter is located off M-55 at 736 Paws Trail in Manistee. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays and noon to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

For more information, contact Homeward Bound at (231) 723-7387 or visit or Facebook. Manistee County Humane Society/Homeward Bound is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

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