Traveling with your pet

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 29, 2006

America's vacation season is in full swing, and many dogs and cats are joining their owners for family vacations and weekend getaways. Although summer heat and driving can be a dangerous combination for household pets, they do not have to be if drivers take some simple precautions.

n If the pet is not used to car trips, try a few test runs to help acclimate them for the ride. Spending time in the car while parked and short drives to nearby destinations are an easy start.

n Cats should be kept in a carrier, and dogs should be held in a restraining harness.

This will help stabilize your pet if there is sudden movement or an accident.

n Feed your pet a little less than you would normally. Since too much water can upset their stomachs on the road, limit water by providing ice to chew on.

And, don't forget to pack some toys and any other favorite items or bedding.

n When traveling to places your pet is not familiar with, it is particularly important to have a collar with an ID tag that includes both your permanent and vacation addresses and phone numbers. Bring a photo of your pet in the event you need to put up &#8220Lost Pet” posters.

n Dogs like to stick their heads out of the car window, but this is very unsafe. Small stones and debris become dangerous projectiles at highway speeds.

n Never leave your pet in a car in warm or hot weather. Even with windows open, or parked in the shade, interior temperatures can quickly rise to lethal levels.