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Tue, Oct. 22

Powers: Planning a vacation? Hopefully it includes your pet
All about pets

Dying grass heads are a danger to our pet’s ears and feet, either at home or on the road. Check for them regularly. (Christy Powers/Courtesy)

Dying grass heads are a danger to our pet’s ears and feet, either at home or on the road. Check for them regularly. (Christy Powers/Courtesy)

Vacation planning is underway and hopefully, it includes the family dog or cat. Traveling with your pet is pleasurable if you are prepared. Too often, pet owners fear they will not find a motel that welcomes their pets. Certain motels always accept dogs, including LaQuinta, Red Roof Inn and Motel 6. If a motel will not accept pets, they can usually recommend one nearby.

Have a duffle bag just for your pet’s stuff. The basics come first: food, water and a bowl for each. Pack enough food for the duration of your trip or be certain that you can buy it along the way. You do not want to change foods while traveling. And it is wise to pack a can of pure pumpkin which is most helpful in case of stomach upset.

Add a table spoon or two, depending on his size, to his food. It is great to settle the stomach and normally, they will eat it willingly. Be sure to pack a can opener!!

Pack a couple of gallons of water and if you run out, buy water rather than give your pet local water which can be very upsetting to the tummy. There is enough stress while traveling to all sorts of strange places without messing with the stomach. There are non-tip, non-spill water dishes. Mine is called the “Water-hole”, super great to always keep in your pet’s space in the car.

Pack some wonderful treats in the bag as well as a few toys and something to chew on. Also include a secure tie-out for when you might be enjoying a campfire or just sitting around outside visiting with friends. And a towel is handy if there are muddy feet.

Include the pet’s bed or favorite blanket. If your pet is accustomed to sleeping on the bed, (imagine such a thing) bring along a sheet to cover the bed at the motel. This is also appreciated if you are staying with friends along the way.

Essential for traveling with a cat, but might be important for the dog also, is a crate. I always have a folding one in the back of my car. A cat needs a hard plastic crate. Do make sure they are comfortable with their crates before they are needed. One is always set up in my house with the door ajar and my guys frequently go in there for a nap. When frightened, that is there comfort zone.

A most important item for travel or any time is a folder with all the pet’s health records including the name and phone number of your veterinarian and a photo of the pet. This should be kept in the car at all times. Be sure your pet has a secure collar with updated rabies, license tags and hopefully, a tag with his microchip information. Make sure all vaccinations are current. And check with your vet about any special precautions you might need for your destination, particularly if where you are going is humid and buzzing with mosquitos, fleas or ticks.

Don’t forget the leashes. A six footer is essential but include a longer one for times when he can get out and move a bit. For the cat, a secure harness and leash are necessities. Don’t forget the cat box and litter.

And naturally, there should always be, in the back seat of the car, a box of clean-up bags. The reason why so many rest areas have such restrictions as to where the pets can be walked is because way too many folks do not clean up after their pets. Inexcusable!

On a completely different topic, I just groomed my hairy poodle and found a couple of these nasty dead grass heads between his foot pads. These annoying things can also get into their ears. It is a good idea to check the ears and feet regularly, particularly after a walk. Once imbedded in the ear canal, a visit to the vet would be necessary. If your pup is shaking his head, check his ears. If he is limping, check his paws.

Most of all, Enjoy your travels.

Christy Powers is a freelance writer whose passion is studying and writing about pet health, nutrition and training. She can be reached at

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