All About Pets

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Travel smart at pet-friendly hotels

Traveling with pets has become much more commonplace than it used to be. Rather than leaving cats and dogs home or in the care of others, many pet owners now take their favorite companions on the road.

According to the Travel Industry of America, about 30 million people travel with their pets each year. As a result, the pet-travel industry is booming, and pet owners may be surprised to find so many options at their disposal. From pet air travel to an increasing number of hotels ready and willing to accommodate pets, people who travel with their cats or dogs in tow have plenty of options.

Those travelers who are planning overnight stays can follow certain guidelines to be courteous guests in pet-accommodating places.

• Confirm pet fees and restrictions. Although hotels may welcome pets, there may be certain restrictions they impose or extra fees to cover the accidental damage caused by pets. Some hotels place restrictions on animal size, breed or age. Fees may be per day or one fee for the entire duration. Deposits may be nonrefundable. Verify the hotel's requirements before booking.

• Maintain up-to-date health records. Hotels may require copies of medical files or immunization records to verify a pet is safe and healthy enough to stay at the hotel. Prior to going on vacation, schedule a veterinarian visit to make sure your pet is current on its shots and is in good health.

• Bring a cage or kennel. Certain hotels may require that pets be kept in a cage or kennel while staying in the room, while others may allow free-reign of the space. Regardless, some animals feel more comfortable in familiar surroundings, and a kennel can offer that sense of security. Dogs or cats that are notorious for biting or scratching furniture or other items should be kept in a crate when owners are not present.

• Know pets' demeanor. Some pets experience separation anxiety when owners are not close by. This can be amplified by unfamiliar surroundings. If your dog barks incessantly when you leave the house or your cat goes on a rampage, it may not be the best idea to bring the animal along on vacation. Pet noise in the hotel room can disrupt other guests and prove problematic and stressful.

• Update identification. No one wants to lose a pet in a strange area away from home. By using sturdy collars and identification tags, you can increase the likelihood that a lost pet will be returned to you while on vacation. Many pet owners choose to have microchips inserted into their pets. This small chip contains identification data and contact information, which should be kept current. Animal control officers often scan stray animals for microchips to help reunite pets with their owners. The American Kennel Club recommends pet owners always travel with current photographs of their pets, which will help others identify pets if they become lost. Store photos on a mobile phone or another device.

• Pack familiar items. Dogs and cats will feel more comfortable with their favorite toys, blankets and other items that smell like home. It may be worth it to pack some bottled water or tap water from home, as well. Drinking water from a new location may lead to stomach upset and accidents, neither of which can be pleasant in a hotel setting.

• Request a lower-floor room. Rooms located closer to ground level are more convenient for walks and exercise for your pet. Some hotels reserve certain rooms as pet-only rooms, and you should inquire as to the location and quality of such rooms before booking.

• Be courteous of other guests. Just because you are a pet lover and the hotel welcomes pets does not mean everyone staying in the hotel shares the same feelings about dogs and cats. Keep pets secured and on a leash when traveling about the property. Notice others' body language around your pet. If they're weary, keep your distance. Wait for the next elevator when around fellow guests who appear especially nervous around your pet. Walk your pet far enough from the main doors of the hotel so as not to disturb others. In turn, watch how your pet reacts to the crowds and its surroundings. A dog or cat that is typically docile may be on edge in strange situations.

• Handle any damages promptly. Mistakes happen and sometimes even a well-behaved pet may do some damage. Alert hotel staff right away and remedy the situation according to policy.

More people are traveling with their pets these days. If hotel stays are in your travel plans, rely on a few tips to make the stay pleasant for all involved. PE154090