Planning a Trip with Fido or Fluffy? Experts Give Pet Travel Tips

Posted on January 31, 2012. Filed under: 1. Daily Life | Tags: , , , , , |

Travelhoppers – a Web site dedicated to providing free travel planning resources coupled with travel expert insight and advice – is pleased to unveil its “Let Us Mail You a Cat (or Dog)” campaign and reveal five tips for encouraging safe travel with pets.  As part of the campaign, consumers can register for a chance to win a dog or cat of their very own! Learn More

1.  Avoid “Pop-Up” Pet Carriers: One common mistake that travelers make when purchasing their animal carriers before a trip, is falling for the “deal” and purchasing the super affordable “pop-up” pet carriers that are advertised as being ultra-lightweight and compact as they can be easily folded and tucked away at the end of the day.  While it’s true that these carriers are more affordable than traditional plastic crates, carriers and kennels, they are in actuality a real safety hazard for animals both large and small.  What the advertisers DON’T tell you, is that these budget pop-up carriers are extremely flimsy, nearly impossible to carry and can collapse while your animal is inside of them at the drop of a dime.  If you are planning to travel with pets, spend a little more money to purchase a durable kennel (preferably made of water-resistant plastic) with wire doors and windows for extra security and ventilation.  Not only are these plastic kennels more easy to clean and maintain, but they will not collapse when luggage slightly shifts in your car or onboard a plane, they have carry handles for easy transport, they come in all sizes and will be a life-long investment that is well-worth the extra money spent.  If traveling by plane, call the airline in advance to request their animal crate requirements and specifications to ensure you’ll have no difficulties boarding your animal.

2. Pack A Pet First-Aid Kit/Travel Bag:  Prior to departing on a trip with your pet, preparation is key.  Pack a separate bag for your pet that contains drinking water, enough food for several days, an extra leash, plastic bags to pick-up after your pet, cleaning supplies, first aid kit and one or two of your animal’s favorite toys from home.  Don’t assume that the destination you’re visiting will have a pet supply store within a short driving distance or will have your pet’s specific food brand in stock, so pack these “travel essentials” for your pet just in case.  Some important things to have on hand for first aid kit supplies include clean towels and cloths, nonstick bandages, adhesive tape, gauze and clean water.

3. Obtain Veterinarian Records In Advance:  Ask your veterinarian for copies of your pet’s medical records and proof of vaccinations (especially a valid rabies certificate) that you can keep close on hand, should any emergencies arise while you’re away.  You’ll want to call at least one month in advance to ensure your veterinarian has enough time to make these medical record copies for you.  If traveling with an exotic animal, ask your veterinarian to provide your pet with an exam and health certificate and make sure you have the appropriate documentation in order to cross state or country lines with your animal.

4. Do Your Destination Homework:  When traveling across state and country lines, it’s essential to have a valid rabies vaccine certificate on-hand. It’s also important to ensure your animal is in good health – as many countries require a signed certificate of health and some will even require an automatic veterinary inspection for all pets crossing the border.  Do your research before traveling with a pet abroad.  Some countries quarantine pets (for days and even months) before allowing the animal into their country.  Some cities, states and countries also have restrictions on the types of exotic animals you’re allowed to bring with you, so contact the individual destinations you’re planning to visit (or those you will be driving through) to ensure that you have the proper documentation for your pet, as well as to learn more about their possible quarantine procedures, exotic animal restrictions, mandatory microchip policies and more.  It’s also recommended to microchip your animal prior to your trip to avoid losing your pet while traveling.

5. Research Animal Restrictions & Fees for Pet-Friendly Hotels:  Many hotels advertise as being pet-friendly these days, however, that does not mean that all animals will be warmly welcomed upon their arrival.  Before booking rooms at a hotel that claims to be “pet-friendly,” call the hotel in advance to find out if they have specific animal restrictions, a maximum number of allowable pets per room and fees associated with pet stays. Additionally, have one pet-friendly hotel “back-up” plan for each destination on your travel itinerary should any problems arise with your original hotel reservations or their pet policies upon arrival.  If traveling across country and making nightly hotel reservations on a whim, one great resource to keep in your car is “The AAA PetBook” – which is an on-the-road-guide for traveling with pets that has more than 13,000 pet-friendly hotels and campground selections by destination location across North America.

This roundup of pet travel tips was compiled by Travelhoppers’ Founder, Richard Earls, and his team of highly knowledgeable travel experts and travel writers that regularly contribute to the Travelhoppers blog.


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Keep Your Pets Safe This Holiday Season…

Posted on December 20, 2011. Filed under: 4. Guest Bloggers | Tags: , , , , , |

SEAACA (Southeast Area Animal Control Authority; has released a helpful list of tips for pet owners to keep their animals safe this holiday season.  Holiday gatherings and celebrations are great for people, but they can at times pose problems for pets.  SEAACA’s tips to help pets and pet owners enjoy the festivities are:

  •  Watch the Decorations.  Decking the halls is fun, but it also can be dangerous to pets.  Make sure electric cords and candles are out of reach of dogs and cats.  Remember that pets can easily eat ornaments and tinsel.  Also, poinsettias, holly, mistletoe, and many other holiday plants can be toxic to dogs or cats.
  • Wrap It Up.  While gifts and giftwrap can make the holidays very festive, beware of bells, ribbons, small toys, and other items that could be choking hazards for your pet.
  • No “Roasting on an Open Fire.”  Fireplaces, candles, and hearths are great for chestnuts and holiday gatherings, but they can be dangerous to wandering or excited pets.  Make sure all fire sources are monitored and pets don’t have the opportunity to accidentally knock over a candle or anything else.
  • Don’t Supersize Them.  Do not feed your pet human food.  But, if you do, avoid giving large amounts of food during the holidays.  Humans are much larger and heavier than dogs and cats and can handle bigger food servings.   Our pets cannot.  During the holidays, it’s very easy to forget and over feed pets, upsetting their digestive system and compromising their health.
  • Rich Foods Lead to Poor Health.  Holiday foods can be filled with spices and seasonings and can cause health problems in pets.  Human holiday treats, which are not good for pets, include buttery foods, nuts, candy, and chocolate, all of which can be very toxic to some animals.  Just try to keep your pets on their regular schedule with their regular food.
  • No Paws on the Bubbly.  Pets and alcohol don’t mix.  Keep the champagne, wine, and other drinks out of reach of pets, which might sneak in a sip only to find they are very sick afterwards.
  • “Ain’t” Too Proud to Beg.  As pets become accustomed to human food, they can learn irritating begging habits.  These habits can be rude to family members and guests during holiday time.   Try to keep pet meals in a separate room with designated pet food rather than human leftovers.
  • Adding A New Member To The Family.   Many families choose the holidays to give a pet as a gift or to add a new pet to the family animal population.  There are many wonderful “adoption” events at SEAACA and with SEAACA partners during December.  Remember, time and effort are needed to acclimate a pet to a new environment throughout the year – the holidays are a special challenge requiring even more time and attention.

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Healthy Holiday Eating Tips for Fido and Fluffy

Posted on November 16, 2011. Filed under: 1. Daily Life | Tags: , , , , , , , |

The holidays are a time to share wonderful meals with family and friends.  For pets, however, the risk of overfeeding and eating dangerous food items during the holiday season can pose significant health risks.  From Thanksgiving to New Year’s and beyond, the food keeps coming and the guests revel, but the pets can suffer.  To help resolve this holiday dilemma, SEAACA (Southeast Area Animal Control Authority, has created a list of tips to help pet owners enjoy their holiday meals while maintaining their pet’s health and welfare.

·      Don’t Supersize Them. Please do not feed your pet human food. But, if you do, avoid giving large amounts of cooked turkey or ham during the holidays. Humans are much larger and heavier than dogs and cats and can handle bigger food servings; our pets cannot. During the holidays, it’s very easy to forget this and overfeed pets, thus upsetting their digestive system and compromising their health.  Should you feed your pet human food, also avoid food that has been out of the refrigerator for a long period of time. Pets need to be protected against food that is undercooked or subject to spoilage because of lack of refrigeration.

·      Watch the Richness. Holiday food can be filled with spices and seasonings, which can cause health problems in pets. Try to keep you pets on their regular schedule with their regular food.  

·      Ain’t To Proud to Beg. As pets become accustomed to human food, they can learn irritating begging habits that can be rude to family members and guests during mealtimes. Try to keep pet meals in a separate room with designated pet food rather than human leftovers.

·      No Bones About It. Do not feed pets bones, particularly chicken, turkey and other poultry bones. Bones can break apart cause intestinal pain, and sometimes choking, in pets. 

·      Sweet Are Not Treats. Candy and highly sugary items can wreak havoc on a pet’s diet. Also, candy wrappers can be eaten by dogs and cats and can result in choking or digestive pain.

·      Beware of Non-Edibles. During the hustle and bustle of holiday meals, it’s easy to lose track of pets. Make sure you keep an eye on them so that they’re not eating non-edible items, such as food packaging or gift wrap, that might have fallen to the floor or left somewhere in the home.

·      Treat Dogs and Cats As Individuals. If you have both dogs and cats, remember that they might have different dietary preferences, and that they need different portion sizes. Use discretion and don’t hand out holiday leftovers blindly. 

“Holidays meals are special family moments, but they can be a problem for pets,” noted SEAACA Executive Director, Dan Morrison. “If we remember to prevent overfeeding and to use discretion when giving pets meals during this festive season, everyone will benefit,” he added.
For more information about SEAACA, please visit

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Is your senior cat happy and healthy?

Posted on October 16, 2011. Filed under: 4. Guest Bloggers | Tags: , , , , |

Wendy and her rescued Russian Blue Pasha

Did you know that of the 86.4 million cats in the United States, more than half (58 percent) are mature or seniors aged 7 and up)?  That’s why it’s important for cat owners to know how to keep their feline friends feeling their best as they enter their golden years.  In celebration of National Pet Wellness Month this October, Hill’s Science Diet has teamed up with Today Show pet contributor and Animal Fair editor-in-chief Wendy Diamond to provide the latest and greatest products to ensure your older cat is living a healthy and happy life.

  • For the mind – Keep your cat’s mind sharp with Hagen’s Cat Design Senses Food Maze – a constantly changing maze that challenges your cat to figure out how to retrieve food or treats
  • For the body – Try new Hill’s Science Diet Senior 11+ Age Defying – a new cat food specially formulated to help senior cats be more interactive, alert and agile in just 30 days
  • For agility– Want to make sure your cat stays active?  Pick up an item such as The Incredible Motor Mouse Cat Toy – a battery powered mouse races around the toy’s loop, staying one step ahead of your cat
  • For the house – Check out products such as the 6-in-1 Cat Tree House & Scratching Post – it’s a great, safe place for your cats to lounge, keep their joints limber and also minimize scratching in other parts of the home

Log onto and take the new Science Diet CatAge quiz powered by RealAge. By answering simple health and lifestyle questions about your cat, owners can determine how old their four-legged friend really is. Every quiz participant can enter to win thousands of prizes, including a trip to Canyon Ranch Spa and also receive an exclusive coupon for new Hill’s Science Diet Senior 11+ Age Defying cat food.

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Posted on September 11, 2011. Filed under: 1. Daily Life | Tags: , , , , |

SEAACA Provides Smart and Practical Tips to Help Beloved Animals Stay Happy and Secure as Families Head Back to School

Dogs, cats and other pets can suffer separation anxiety, especially during the fall.  As kids start a new academic year, pets around the country may need help to adjust from a freewheeling summer of fun and a house full of people to lonely days waiting for children to return from school or adults to come home from work.  For these situations, SEAACA (Southeast Area Animal Control Authority; has created a list of behaviors to look for, as well as solutions to help alleviate the back-to-school blues.

Many behaviors can signal a pet’s anxiety or sadness because of a shift from a summer to a school schedule.  These behaviors may include:

  • Excessive pacing, barking or meowing
  • Urinating or defecating in the home or in unapproved areas
  • Escape attempts
  • Destruction of furniture or toys
  • Unusual chewing, digging or other frantic behavior

If such behaviors are evident, pet owners can take specific measures to help their animals.  Some strategies to consider include:

  • Introduce short separations to help your pet become accustomed to the upcoming schedule change
  • Foster your pet’s independence by helping him or her play alone with toys and other activities
  • When your pet is alone, leave her or him an interactive toy via a food dispenser, such as the Kong
  • Do not punish or scold your pet for unusual behavior during the adjustment period (the behavior could be rooted in fear, and punishment could exacerbate that insecurity)
  • If the behavior does not improve, seek the help of an animal behaviorist or your local veterinarian

“Back-to-school is a wonderful time for families, but it can be anxiety-provoking for pets, especially for some shelter pets who haven’t had stable homes before,” noted SEAACA Executive Director, Dan Morrison.  “If pet owners know what to look for and are equipped with preventive and healing techniques, this annual rite of fall can be more pleasant for everyone,” he added.

For more information about SEAACA, please visit

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My Heart is with Shelter Pets

Posted on October 31, 2010. Filed under: 1. Daily Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Today I went to the shelter with my sister to help her find the perfect little dog.  I volunteer at the San Diego Humane Society and absolutely love it, but as I walked through the halls today and looked at all those beautiful faces with soulful eyes looking back at me, it just broke my heart to know they were all waiting for homes. I wish I could adopt them all. It makes me sad to know that for whatever reason, these innocent pets were given up. I don’t want to judge anyone who had to make that difficult decision, and I respect the fact that they took their pet to a shelter, which is the responsible thing to do. However, it still tugs at my heart strings when I see these homeless pets. I wonder what their past life was like – What was their home like? What have they experienced before they arrived at the shelter? What are they thinking now? When I see them in their habitats, I envision them in a loving, warm home, wagging their tails with a smiling family. Pets are my passion. I want every one to be happy and healthy and experience a full life. Our shelters do the best they can, but it’s not the same as a home. I will continue to volunteer at the shelter – one of my favorite things to do – and encourage anyone looking for a furry family member to adopt a rescue. This is my way of doing what I can to make a difference in an effort that means the world to me.

Both my dog and cat are rescue pets, and I’m proud to say that! Rescue pets are the best – all they want is to be loved, and they love you unconditionally. I truly believe that they know they were rescued. If you are thinking about getting a pet, please consider rescuing one. BTW, the two dogs my sister loved have already found homes, which is wonderful, so she is going back this week to look again. Stay tuned!

– Michelle Brubaker

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Catch a Wave of Fresh Air, Be Part of a Good Cause

Posted on October 3, 2010. Filed under: 2. Fun Pet Stuff We're Trying | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

I should have potty trained my cat, Cody, when he was a kitten, but I didn’t, so now I have to clean a litter box every day. It’s definitely not on the top of my list of favorite things to do, but it’s part of cat ownership, and I will do anything for my feline buddy.

I was recently introduced to JulAir – an air freshener that has a hint of jasmine and is made out of Australian tea tree oil. I have used it several times after cleaning Cody’s litter and have also used it on my dog, Dezi’s, bed and our kitchen trash can. It’s a light spray that smells great! I love the Australian branding with a Koala as the mascot and the tagline – catch a wave of fresh air. I studied aboard in Australia in college, so I have a soft spot for anything related to down under.

The JulAir Company is based in Santa Barbara, California. Bob and Julia Zeman, founders of JulAir were inspired to create their all-natural air freshener while walking on the beach and the woods near their home.

It’s about $9 for a 4 oz bottle – more than a bottle of Lysol, but in my opinion, JulAir is more effective. Also, JulAir donates a portion of each bottle to develop treatments and eventually a cure for Parkinson’s Disease and arthritis.

Cody gives this product a meow and two paws up!

Learn more about JulAir and try it for yourself.

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Messy 3am Wake Up Call – Pets Like Kids?

Posted on January 11, 2010. Filed under: 1. Daily Life | Tags: , , , , |

I don’t have human children yet, just my dog and cat. I’ve heard you should get a plant, a pet and then have a baby. I’ve often thought that furry kids have similarities to human kids – although I obviously  know the difference! The other night I was sleeping sound in dream land when I woke up to the awful sound of my cat dry heaving right next to me in bed. I know this sound well by now and brace myself for the mess that follows. Cat owners, you know what I mean! In my half awake state of mind, I looked around for something to put under Cody’s mouth. I was panicking – wasn’t there a magazine, paper towel, dirty sock anything laying around? Of course not! So, my attempt failed, and Cody barfed all over our bed. It was fur and grass that lead to this smelly mess that I now had to clean up at 3 am. Part of me was so annoyed because the last thing I wanted to do at this hour was clean up cat vomit, but when I looked at his little face, I just couldn’t help but pet him, tell him it was going to be OK and forget about the fact that I was annoyed. The next 30 min. were spent cleaning up the comforter, sheet, pillow case and mattress. By this time Cody was sitting in our windowsill enjoying life and not having a care in the world that I was cleaning up after him. The things we do for our pets make me think that maybe this is nature’s way of preparing me for life as a parent of a human baby. For those of you with pets or both pets and kids, does this sound familiar? What funny stories like this would you like to share?

Michelle Brubaker

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