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Travelers planning an active or camping vacation should make some additional preparations.

  • Check in advance to be sure your pet is permitted at campgrounds, parks, beaches, trails and anywhere else you will be visiting. Remember that pets other than service animals usually are not allowed in public buildings.

  • Parks: It is not advisable to take animals other than dogs into wilderness areas. For example, bringing a pet is not recommended at some national parks in Alaska. Also keep in mind that rural areas often have few veterinarians and even fewer boarding kennels.
    • Few parks or natural areas will allow a pet to be unattended, even when chained — the risk of disagreeable encounters with other travelers or wildlife is too great. The National Park Service may confiscate pets that harm wildlife or other visitors. If camping, crate your pet at night to protect him from the elements and predators. (Chaining confines the animal but won’t keep him from becoming a midnight snack.)

  • Hiking: When hiking, stick to the trail and keep your pet on a short leash. It is all too easy for an unleashed pet to wander off and get lost or fall prey to a larger animal. Be aware of indigenous poisonous plants, such as English ivy and oleander, or those causing physical injury, such as cactus, poison ivy or stinging nettle. Your veterinarian or local poison control center should be able to give you a full list of hazardous flora.
    • Before setting out on the trail, do plan a hike well within the limits of your pet’s endurance, and don’t push. Carry basic first-aid supplies, including a first-aid guide (See the “Packing Checklist” in the Preparing for Your Trip Section). Also carry fresh drinking water for both of you — ‘‘found’’ water may contain harmful germs or toxins. Drink often, not just when thirst strikes, and have your pet do the same. Watch for signs of dehydration, leg or foot injuries, heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Stop immediately and return home or to camp if any of these occur.

  • When you return: No matter where or how you spend your vacation, visit the veterinarian to check for parasites, injuries and general health.
Note: Dogs can carry their own backpacks (check your local pet store for specially designed packs), but should never carry more than one-third of their body weight. Train the dog to accept the pack beforehand, and only use it with a strong, healthy animal in excellent physical condition.

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Find this information and more in Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook®.

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