Should pets come along? Think it through

When making travel decisions, choose what is safest and most comfortable to your

For instance, unless you’ll be able to spend a lot of time with your dog, he’ll probably be happier at home than tagging along on your trip. As a rule, cats are almost always better off in their own home.

But if you have decided it’s best to bring your pet along, follow our tips for a safe and low-stress trip.

The safest way for your dog to travel in the car is in a crate that has been anchored to the vehicle using a seat belt or other secure means. Dog restraints or seat belts are useful for preventing your dog from roaming around the car and being a distraction to the driver, but they haven’t been reliably shown to protect dogs during a crash. Most cats aren’t comfortable traveling in cars, so for their safety as well as yours, keep them in a carrier.

It’s important to restrain these carriers in the car so that they don’t bounce around and hurt your pet. Do this by securing a seat belt around the front of the carrier. Keep your pet in the back seat of the car. If an airbag deploys while your pet is in the passenger seat (even in a crate), it might injure your pet.

Dogs and cats should always be kept safely inside the car. Pets who are allowed to stick their heads out the window can be injured by particles of debris or made sick by having cold air forced into their lungs. Never transport a pet in the back of an open pickup truck.

A quick pit stop may feel like no time at all to you, but it’s too long to leave your pet in a car by himself. One hazard is heat: When it’s 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour.

On an 85-degree day, even with the windows slightly open, the temperature inside your car can reach 102 degrees in just 10 minutes. If you’re held up for 30 minutes, you may return to a car that’s 120 degrees inside and a pet who is suffering irreversible organ damage or death.

Taking your pet on a plane is very difficult. Be aware of the dangers of flying your pet in a cargo hold. Animals flown in the cargo area of airplanes are killed, injured or lost on commercial flights each year. Excessively hot or old temperatures, poor ventilation and rough handling are often to blame. Many hotels, motels and resorts either do not allow pets on their properties or if they do, they charge a hefty charge for having your pet stay in your room.

Everyone loves their pets, however when traveling, think about leaving them at home and let them have a “vacation” from us as well.

Consider all the alternatives to flying. If you plan to bring your pet on vacation, driving is usually a better option. If you can’t travel by car, your pet will probably be healthier and happier if you leave her behind under the care of a pet sitter or boarding kennel.

Always remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

Donald Pile and Ray Williams are award-winning celebrity travel columnists and proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at or visit their website at
Article republished with permission from The Gay Word.

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