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BANGKOK, THAILAND – The month of August marks two important occasions for pet lovers – August 8 was International Cat Day and August 26 is International Dog Day. If you have some plans to take your four-leg friends out for a ride to the beach or a change of atmosphere, here are some tips for you and your little (or big) buddies for a smoother, safer but happiest trip.

In addition, according to researchers, owning a pet can have tremendous health benefits, such as decreased feelings of loneliness, and increased opportunities for exercise and socialization.

Before the fur flies

Before getting into the ride, here are some prep steps to help ensure a great trip.

  • Make sure your buddies are current on vaccinations and, depending on where you’re headed, get additional vaccinations to protect against new threats such as canine Lyme disease. Find and program the number of a 24-hour emergency vet.
  • In case you become separated from your pet (let’s hope you don’t), carry a current photo. A dog collar with your cell number also is a good idea. Never allow your dog to leave the vehicle without the collar, ID tag and leash.

Traveling with Dogs

Not all “man’s best friend” can handle road trips, so it’s best to take a few practice runs before a major journey.

  • Restrain dogs during car trips for their safety and yours. Options include restraints, pet carriers and cargo barriers. SUVs offer spacious cargo areas that can accommodate a good-size pet carrier and consumers can find specialized pet restraints for use in rear seats. Even if your pets stare at you with their big poor doe-eyes, never let them ride in front because they could be seriously injured or killed if an air bag deploys. If the dogs is big, the best place for it is in the cargo area. Consider getting the optional cargo tray to protect the carpeting.
  • As with children, never leave your hairy buddies alone in the car. On a warm, sunny day, even with the windows open, a parked vehicle can become dangerously hot in no time, and heatstroke can develop. Furthermore, unattended pets can be stolen. If you see a pet in distress in the back of a closed car, be a good pet-lover citizen and alert the authorities or animal control if the vehicle owner cannot be located.
  • If your best pal has anxiety issues or barks a lot, try a chew toy or treat to keep him/her occupied. Chewing and licking are very soothing to dogs, and may help yours relax. A SUV may be perfect vehicle for travelling with pets as it offers plenty of storage compartments for pet toys and treats.
  • Identify dog-friendly restaurants, hotels and dog parks on your travel route so you guys can closely enjoy the trip together.

A little tip to happily finish the ride, once you get to your destination, walk your hairy travel companion on a leash to ensure its safety and make him/her stretch the legs to feel more relax. Even a well-trained dog may feel uncomfortable in an unfamiliar location.

Traveling with cats

Scratch these items off the list before you travel with felines:

  • Same like travelling with dogs, use a pet carrier or cargo barrier. Unrestrained pets can be injured in a crash or pose a risk of injury to other vehicle occupants.
  • Familiarize your car by allowing your kitty to cheek rub and spread its scent. Or try placing a familiar pet bed, blanket or a towel inside the car.
  • Consider packing a portable litter box, collapsible food and water bowls and feline first aid kits. An old scratching post you won’t mind discarding can also help keep cats calm.
  • To help prevent dehydration, especially on summer trips, try freezing a bowl of water that cats can lick to keep cool. It is a less messy option for traveling with water.