Consumer Reports: Cost of taking your pet on vacation

If you're a pet owner, it's no secret that leaving the dog at home with sitters and kennels is a pricey addition to your vacation costs, but don't assume that bringing your pup on your trip will always be cheaper. Consumer Reports has some important tips on how to save money and aggravation when you travel with your pet.

When the Pilla family takes a vacation, they take their dog Dizzy.

"Because then I don't have to worry. I know that I'm taking really good care of her," said Stephanie Pilla.

Consumer Reports said if you are going to do that, get prepared ahead of time.

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"Make sure your pooch is ready to fly and get a health certificate from your veterinarian, including vaccinations, so you can show it to the airlines and anyone else you might require it," said Donna Rosato, Consumer Reports Money Editor.

If your pet doesn't already have a microchip, be sure to get one.

You can hit the rails on Amtrak with your pup for around $26, but only if your trip is less than seven hours.

Airlines usually charge around $125 one-way to fly with a small dog in the cabin to many destinations.

"And since your pet carrier will count as a carry-on you may need to pay to check your suitcase. And a travel compliant carrier can cost you anywhere from $35 to more than $100," said Rosato.

Also, reserve a spot for your pet ahead of time with the train or airline.

"They only allow a certain number of pets to be under the seat," said Pilla.

Larger dogs often need to fly in the cargo hold, costing from $100 to close to $1,000 each way. Many airlines don't allow snub-nosed breeds like French bulldogs to fly at all as they can have difficulty breathing at high altitudes.

When it comes on where to stay, if you're allowed to bring your dog, many hotels will charge a fee from $20 to $100. But some chains do let pets stay for free.

If you prefer to take your dog on a road trip, a lot of car rental companies won't charge extra for pets. Still, Consumer Reports said don't forget about car safety. In an accident, pets can act as projectiles if they are not secured, injuring not only themselves but the other people riding in the car.

Securing pets with a harness or crate is a must. The Center for Pet Safety with Subaru conducted crash tests on dummy dogs.

They also recommend that dogs up to 90-pounds should be secured in the rear seat opposite the driver's side. In larger cars they should be in the rear seat or in a crate in its cargo area.

For three-row vehicles with captain's chairs, dogs up to 20-pounds should be secured in the second row and larger dogs in the third row.

If you're traveling with children, secure the child in the second row and the dog behind on the opposite side.

To read the full story from Consumer Reports, CLICK HERE.
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