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Those of us that own a furry four legged friend have now led the way in statistics and travel. As of this year, 93% of dog owners plan on taking their pet on vacation with them.

Before you let Fido jump in and take to the road with you, be sure to look over some safety precautions to ensure their trip is just as enjoyable as yours.

Prior to your trip make sure of the following:

Have your pet identification tag complete with the animals name, your name and cell phone number. If possible, also place your home number or another contact number.

Have a first aid kit for you pet and keep it with you incase of injury.

Visit your veterinarian and make sure you are current on all shots and tags. Get a copy of proof to carry with you of all vaccines in the case that you need to board your pet. Make sure your pet is in good health and consider a recent health certificate to carry with you as you may need if traveling to Canada or Mexico.

Packing for you pet - remember to bring enough food and water along with any needed medicines. I love this set from http://www.fetchdog.com/pet-supplies/dogcartravel/traveldogbowls/ruff-rations/00374 and use our travel bowls even when we just visit the park.

Pack: Bowls, leashes, collars, a familiar blanket, towel, toys/chew toys, treats, plastic bags/clean-up supplies, a dog brush, crate, and any other comforts your pet may need such as dog booties if venturing to a hot or cold region or a swim vest if going on a water trip.

Before you hit the road, know your route and some pet friendly stops. While traveling, keep you dog safely contained in either a safety harness or in the enclosed back area.

Purchase your supplies at numerous stores and sites such as Pet Street Mall http://www.petstreetmall.com/Travel-&-Outdoors/458.html, In The Company of Dogs http://www.inthecompanyofdogs.com/ShopCategory3.aspx?id=17,473&dispRow=473, or http://www.fetchdog.com/pet-supplies/dogcartravel/alldogcar-travelsupplies, all of which have an excellent selection of travel gear for your dog amongst many other selections.

Be sure to stop every 2-3 hours and allow them some exercise and relief along with water and their food if at their scheduled time . . . A little treat for their great behavior is always welcomed! Never leave your pet in a hot vehicle!!! Not only can this be dangerous and deadly, but the extreme heat can also cause heat stroke and/or brain damage.

Dog Friendly http://dogfriendly.com/dognews/?p=1272 has posted their Top 10 Dog-Friendly Cities to visit in the United States. With some controversy, the top ten were chosen with some cities excluded due to breed restrictive laws.

When choosing your accommodations make sure you are clear of their restrictions for size/weight, breed and amenities available for your dog. You will also want to verify any additional costs associated with having your pet travel with you. Many hotels are now offering dog-sitting and dog walking with/without additional fees.

Another great resource from Dog Friendly is their 2010 Top 10 Dog-Friendly resorts http://dogfriendly.com/dognews/?p=835

Wherever you chose to stay, make sure you follow some etiquette with your pet. Not everyone loves animals and may not look upon your pet as adorably as you do. When in public areas, make sure you keep your dog close to you as to ensure not just their safety, but others such as tripping over leash and etc., you may also want to consider a specialty style collar/leash to prevent your dog from any biting.

When at the beach, keep your dog leased if there is a leash law. Always clean up after your dog, do not let your dog visit with other beach-goers or dogs, unless welcomed. If using an official off-leash area, your dog needs to be well-behaved and must listen to your verbal commands. In an off-leash area, always pay attention to your dog.

Most of all, remember to have fun while traveling with your pet. They want to enjoy as much as you do ~ just make sure you plan ahead, be prepared and even pets like to be pampered while on vacation too.

And if by chance you have to leave your pet at home, the coziest hotel trend isn’t catering to just slippers, a robe and a comfy bed, but catering to the animal lovers traveling without their pet and upping the ante for their pet lovers.

In Chicago, IL, Chicago’s Hotel Burnham http://www.burnhamhotel.com/ (also a Chicago pet friendly hotel) and is one of 23 Kimpton Hotel properties that not only hands over your room key, but also lets its travelers choose whether to share their room with some of its “goldfish team members” as part of their Guppy Love program. Their staff cleans the bowl and feeds the fish for you while still cozying up your room; making this agreement nothing conforming or committing. New York City’s SoHo Grand Hotel http://www.sohogrand.com/ also runs a similar program for their guest

The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa in Sonoma, CA http://www.fairmont.com/SMI/Zeus added Zeus, a chocolate Labrador as the Canine Ambassador of the Fairmont. Zeus oversees interactive guest appreciation at the California classic resort destination. He also keeps an eye on a multitude of lobby activities, co-leads guest hikes and assists in grounds supervision of the classic 226-room property.

Catie Copley, a black Labrador at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston http://www.fairmont.com/cop/CatieCopley.htm, is so popular with guests and they can sign up via e-mail to catie.Copley@fairmont.com in advance of their stay to take her on walks around town. Make sure you book early for Catie seems to get booked up!

In Beaver Creek, CO, a yellow Labrador is at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/BachelorGulch/Default.htm is available for hiking and snowshoeing excursions, or just playing ball with as part of the hotel's Loan-A-Lab program. He has even been incorporated into wedding ceremonies and proposals. The hotel gets its dogs from Colorado shelters, and although guests don't have to pay to book some quality canine time, they are asked to make a donation to a local animal shelter.

Out of concern for guests with pet allergies, hotels don't allow staff dogs to enter their bars or restaurants. This rule applies for the luxury hotel in New York, The Algonquin http://www.algonquinhotel.com/ has a resident cat, Matilda. In addition to welcoming guests, Matilda's official mission, according to her Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Matilda-The-Algonquin-Cat/51291379554?sk=wall, is "to nap in every corner of the hotel's historic lobby." I think I like her job!

At all the options available to you, your vacation with your pet or with a stand-in pet while on vacation, will leave you feeling comforted in having a four legged furry friend.