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Don't forget to include your pet in summer plans

Summer unofficially starts this Memorial Day weekend. For many, summer means weekend getaways to enjoy the warm weather. Pets need be considered when making summer plans. Should you bring Fido on your vacation? What will your pet need if it comes...

Summer unofficially starts this Memorial Day weekend. For many, summer means weekend getaways to enjoy the warm weather.

Pets need be considered when making summer plans. Should you bring Fido on your vacation? What will your pet need if it comes along? Also, since summertime means severe weather, is your pet's well-being included in your family's emergency plan?

When looking at vacationing with an animal, there are two considerations that top the list. First, how will your animal react to taking a trip?

Stay or go?

Pets are accustomed to their surroundings. Vacations start with household disruption -- packing clothes, getting the picnic cooler ready, and lots of in and out trips from the car. Pets sense this departure from household routines, and this may make animals nervous. And of course, vacations mean many hours traveling in a car/airplane and unfamiliar accommodations. Pet owners should look at their animals' personalities and determine if their pets are suitable prospects for traveling.

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Second, be sure the destination is "pet-friendly." Plan ahead and call the destination about its pet policies. It's better to know upfront what is expected than waste precious vacation time arguing with a hotel clerk about the rules. International travel may require specific vaccinations, health certificates, and perhaps, a quarantine period.

Also, your trip should be pet friendly. If you are bringing a pet on vacation to simply to leave it in the car at many tourism stops, then it's better to leave the pet at home. The car can be a dangerous place for pets. Find a shady place to park. In a sunny location, car temperatures can quickly rise to over 120 ? F in a short time -- even if the window is cracked open. On long car trips, plan a water/exercise rest stop for your dog every few hours.

Be sure to bring along the basic supplies to ensure a safe and healthy trip.

Basic travel checklist

n Current vaccinations, specifically rabies and distemper.

n Identification tags with your address and telephone number.

n Leash.

n Pet crate/carrier.

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n Food and bottled water.

n First aid -- bandages, tick repellant.

n Medication (if prescribed).

Emergency preparation

Speaking of safety, our summers produce severe weather. You have an emergency plan for your household in case of flooding or tornadoes, but what about your pet? Emergency kits for your pet can be made from a plastic storage container. Include items in the basic travel kit plus a photo of your animal and a muzzle.

During a foreseeable emergency, most people evacuate to friend's or relative's home. Be sure that this new household will accept a pet. Red Cross shelters cannot accept animals due to health and safety restrictions. Place a kennel's phone number in your kit and a map (if it's unfamiliar) inside the emergency kit for easy access.

In some cases, it's best to leave the animal at home during an emergency. Confine it to an easily cleanable room like a bathroom. Bathrooms have countertops that an animal could use as higher ground during a flood. Leave water in the bathtub for a drinking source of water and slightly unpalatable food in a food dispenser to discourage overeating. Leave notice on the outside of your house saying that a pet is confined here and describe its location.

Plan ahead for your pet's well being during a vacation or an emergency. With a little bit of planning, your weekend getaway will be filled with the lovable presence of your pet.

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