July is almost gone, but there are still some time left for traveling. Whether it’s a one or two-week vacation or a long weekend to grandma’s house, you may be wanting to take your family pet with you.

Before you put Fido or Fluffy in the car and take off, it’s best to think through a few things. According to the tripswithpets.com website, if your pet is ill, injured, or has a nervous condition or difficult temperament, it may be best to leave him or her at home with a trusted caregiver.

First on your check list should be a visit to your veterinarian to get a medical checkup and to get current on vaccinations. Did you know that if you are traveling across state lines, you must have a recent health certificate and proof of vaccinations?

It is unlikely that you will need to show the documents while traveling, but things happen and you never know when you might need to produce these official papers to authorities.

Next, have a plan for how you will restrain your pet in your vehicle while traveling. Hundreds of pets are injured or even killed while riding in vehicles because they are allowed to roam freely. Enthusiastic or excited animals can also cause a car accident if they distract the driver or interfere with driving.

Pet car seats, pet seat belts, travel crates or kennels and pet barriers are all good options. Check out what is available and what might work best for your pet and your particular situation. Whatever you choose, be sure to familiarize your pet with the restraint-of-choice weeks or even months before the actual trip. Practice makes almost-perfect.

One of the most important things to remember is to keep proper identification of your pet. I have said it many times, but it bears repeating: make sure that your pet has up-to-date identification. A microchip is a good choice because it will not come off accidentally and it will certainly be checked if a lost pet ends up at an animal shelter.

If you have an identification tag on your furry friend’s collar, make sure it has your cell number on it. It does no good for someone to call your home phone if you are traveling.

Some folks even add a temporary tag with the address and phone of your vacation destination. It is a good idea to always carry a current photograph of your furry friend that will be useful if others are trying to help you find a lost pet. Surely you have one on your phone. If not, here’s good reason to add one.

You will also want to bring an ample supply of the food that your pet is used to eating. You may not always be able to find what you are used to serving when traveling to new places and it would not be a good idea to introduce the animal to a new brand while traveling. It is also very important to avoid feeding your pet in a moving vehicle.

You might also want to consider bringing bottled water from home to avoid upset stomaches and discomfort caused by water from new sources.

Do I even need to mention the most important rule of traveling with pets in the summer? You must never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. The ASPCA reminds us that, even with windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace in no time and heatstroke can easily develop.

This might mean picking up meals from drive-thru windows and eating at a local park, or taking turns going into a restaurant while others spend time with the animal in the shade.

If you need to stay overnight in a hotel or motel, plan ahead. Look online for pet-friendly accommodations that will work with you on making you and your pet comfortable.

Planning ahead is VERY important with our Very Important Pets!!