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5 Tips for Staying Safe and Sane While Traveling With Your Pet

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Our pets aren’t just pets, they’re our friends and family members, too. So sometimes, a family vacation isn't complete without them. Whether you're driving a couple hours or flying across the country, there are some important variables to consider when you travel with a pet. Travel can be especially stressful for them and, if you’re not prepared, that only makes the trip more stressful for everyone. Before you book your travel, keep these five tips in mind.

1. BRUSH UP ON PET SAFETY.

Before anything else, you want to make sure your pet travels safely, and that means heeding some basic precautions. For example, leaving your pet in the car can be life-threatening, especially when the weather heats up. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion every year. And at least one study, published in the Journal of the Louisiana State Medical Society, found that cracked windows make very little difference in how hazardous your car’s temperature is to your pet. Your best bet? Just don’t do it.

Dee Power, a travel blogger who frequently brings her two dogs along when she travels (and writes about their adventures), tells mental_floss it's important to prepare for the worst—your pet getting lost in an unfamiliar place. “Have your pet microchipped. Engrave your cell phone—not your home landline—on the back of their license tag,” she says. “Have a recent photo of your dog with you when you travel. That way if, heaven forbid, your dog gets away from you, the photo can be used for flyers.”

Make sure to write your pet’s name and identification on the carrier, too, including both your origin and destination addresses. This way, if your pet gets lost at any point during the journey, you’ll have both locations covered.

2. GET THEIR MOTION SICKNESS UNDER CONTROL.

Just like people, pets can get carsick, airsick, or seasick. "If you know that your pet is nervous by nature, traveling can be extremely overwhelming,” veterinarian Dr. Carol Osborne tells mental_floss. “If your pet becomes motion sick, bring along some ginger cookies to help settle the stomach.”

While ginger is safe for dogs and cats and can help ease their motion sickness, you can check with your veterinarian for more powerful medications if you know your pet has a history of nausea while traveling. According to Veterinary Centers of America (VCA), some motion sickness and anti-anxiety medications need to be given days before your trip, so make sure you’re clear on the dosage requirements. VCA adds that it’s best to withhold food 12 hours before travel, as an empty stomach will help reduce nausea. They also suggest hanging a water bottle (like this one) from your pet’s carrier to keep them hydrated during the journey.

3. OBTAIN THE RIGHT PAPERWORK.

“If traveling to another state or by plane, you will need a health certificate from your vet 10 to 30 days prior to travel,” Osborne says. “Make sure his ID tags are up to date and legible.”

Regardless of whether or not you’re crossing state lines, you should make an appointment with your vet before any big trip. This way, he or she can confirm that your pet is healthy enough to travel and is up-to-date on vaccinations.

Depending on your destination, the state or country might have additional health or documentation requirements (this is particularly true for exotic pets, like reptiles or birds). The United States Department of Agriculture has a useful online tool to help you sort it all out.

4. PREPARE FOR TAKE OFF.

Pet policies vary by airline, too. Make sure to research these policies thoroughly, including how much it will cost to fly with your pet, where they’ll have to stay during the flight, and whether there are any restrictions on how many pets you can travel with.

Here are the basic policies of a few popular airlines:

American Airlines: They charge $125 per carrier each way and allow small cats and dogs in the cabin of the aircraft. The combined weight limit of the pet and its carrier can’t be over 20 pounds. For the most part, only cats and dogs are allowed.

United Airlines: Cats, dogs, rabbits, and birds over 8 weeks old can travel in the cabin on most U.S. flights, and the cost is $125 each way.

Virgin America: They allow cats and dogs over 8 weeks old in the cabin for a fee of $100 each way. You’ll need a veterinary certificate that proves shots are up to date and verifies your pet’s date of birth.

Keep in mind, these are just the basics, and every airline has very specific, detailed requirements (down to how big the carrier can be), so always make sure to read the fine print and check with the airline before you travel. You don’t want to be caught off guard when you arrive at the airport.

Worried about a larger pet traveling in the luggage hold? Author and active pilot Patrick Smith says, “There’s a lot of misunderstanding with respect to how pets are transported in the luggage holds. The under-floor holds are always pressurized and heated. Usually there is an area of the hold designated specifically for pets. This tends to be the zone in which temperature is most easily regulated.”

Smith adds that pet owners should take comfort in knowing that it’s fairly straightforward to maintain a comfortable temperature during a flight, and the flight crew is always notified when there are live animals below.

5. BOOK EARLY AND ARRIVE EARLY.

As travel site Bring Fido points out, many airlines have a limit on how many pets can travel on each flight, so you may want to book your ticket sooner rather than later. And it's best to do so the old-fashioned way: over the phone. Bring Fido suggests calling the airline to confirm there’s room for your pet on board, then booking while you have them on the line.

You also want to get to the airport early. Airlines usually recommend arriving two hours before departure if you’re checking in with a pet. They also require you to check-in at the counter instead of curbside or at a self-service kiosk.

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25 Dapper Outfit Choices for Fashionable Pets
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Lavishing your furry friends with adorable attire is a benefit of pet ownership that they don't mention on the adoption forms. Whether you prefer practical clothing like sweaters and jackets or statement pieces like bow ties and tutus, these dapper duds are perfect for a howl-iday or "gotcha day" gift, or simply for saying, "Who's the cutest little pupper in pajamas? You are!"

1. CASHMERE DOG SWEATER; FROM $165

dog in sweater
Canine Styles

This classic cable-knit cashmere sweater is a sophisticated look for Fido or Finn. Get it from Canine Styles, a luxury dog emporium in New York City that has plenty of posh and preppy outfits.

Find It: Canine Styles

2. TOGGLE DOG COAT; $85

dog in coat
Canine Styles

This toggle coat (available in orange, navy, and tan) is as fashionable as it is warm. Made of Melton wool, it has Velcro closures to make getting dressed easy. It's great for long walks in the country.

Find It: Canine Styles

3. DOG TUXEDO; FROM $90

Dog in tuxedo
Etsy

This satin tuxedo is perfect for the canine members of your wedding party, though it will brighten up any other occasion as well. The custom, handmade outfit comes complete with a snappy bow tie.

Find It: Etsy

4. DOG BELLE DRESS; FROM $45

Dog Belle Dress
Etsy

The queen of your castle can feel like a Disney princess in her very own version of Belle's iconic yellow dress from Beauty and the Beast. This ball gown is made from yellow crepe satin with chiffon overlay on the bodice and features hand-painted gold detailing on the skirt. Enchanted rose not included.

Find It: Etsy

5. POODLE SKIRT OUTFIT FOR DOGS; $26

Rubies Pink Fifties Girl Pet Costume
Amazon

What if you could by a 1950s poodle skirt for your poodle? This retro dress is comprised of a pink poodle skirt, striped bodice, and sequined belt, and comes with a bow headband.

Find It: Amazon

6. RIBBED CROCHET BUNNY SWEATER; $25

bunny in a sweater
Etsy

Your snuggle-bunny will look like a little fancy-pants in this ribbed crochet sweater. Choose from seven colors, including this dashing deep red.

Find It: Etsy

7. BESPOKE MONOGRAM DOG SWEATER; FROM $155

Dog in sweater
Ruby Rufus

Bespoke clothing isn't just for humans: British luxury dog clothing brand Ruby Rufus will make your pooch a custom monogram sweater made with 100 percent Italian cashmere. You can even order it in your dog's favorite color.

Find It: Ruby Rufus

8. HOT PINK DOG TUTU; $17

Dog in hot pink tutu
Etsy

Tutus look absolutely adorable on tiny humans and animals alike. If your pooch wants to get in touch with its inner ballerina, then grab this hot pink number from Etsy. Rave reviews are a sure thing.

Find It: Etsy

9. PINK DOG POLO SHIRT; $35

Dog Pink Polo Shirt
Canine Styles

This pink polo shirt is perfect for your preppy fur baby. It features not one but a veritable multitude of crocodiles. They'll be the most dapper dog at the country club.

Find It: Canine Styles

10. DOG BARN COAT WITH BROWN CORDUROY COLLAR; $85

Dog in barn coat
Canine Styles

When it's time for a walk, your dog will look effortlessly chic in this fancy barn coat. It comes in navy, cranberry, orange, hot pink, and loden and features convenient pockets for anyone with opposable thumbs.

Find It: Canine Styles

11. WHITE PET NECK RUFF; $26

Pet Neck Ruff
Etsy

Your canine or kitty will look like their painting belongs in London's National Portrait Gallery with this Elizabethan neck ruff.

Find It: Etsy

12. CHICKEN SWEATER; $25

chicken wearing sweater
Etsy

Chickens can get cold when they're strutting around outside. A sweater (well, more like sweater vest) for your bird can also help prevent feather picking during molting season. Or, it can simply keep them warm while they stare pensively across a snowy landscape.

Find It: Etsy

13. PET CIRCLE SCARF; $15

dog in scarf
Etsy

An infinity scarf is a perfect burst of color on a dreary early morning walk. The proprietor of Mitten Made on Etsy originally designed this wool snood for her miniature Dachshund to help keep her warm during the long, cold winters in Michigan.

Find It: Etsy

14. FAB DOG TRAVEL RAINCOAT; FROM $18

Fab Dog Travel Raincoat
Chewy

This timeless yellow rain slicker will look great on any puppy when it's raining cats and dogs. It's made of 100 percent waterproof nylon shell that keeps fur dry. Bonus: It's perfect for an It Halloween costume.

Find It: Chewy

15. LACE CAT OR DOG COLLAR; FROM $10

cat in lace collar
Etsy

This handmade, white lace collar is a must-have for fancy felines. It's also embellished with a large rhinestone.

Find It: Etsy

16. FITWARM PENGUIN PAJAMAS FOR DOGS; FROM $10

Fitwarm Cute Penguin Xmas Dog Pajamas
Amazon

Keep your pupper warm on cold winter nights with these penguin PJs. They're great for doggie sleepovers or lazy weekends on the couch watching Netflix.

Find It: Amazon

17. PLAID CASHMERE DOG COAT; FROM $225

dog in plaid coat
Canine Styles

Your dog will look like a proper gentleman in this smart plaid peacoat. This fine garment is made of cashmere with a faux fur lining and leather buttons, and is a perfect shield against chill and fog.

Find It: Canine Styles

18. SATIN PET BOW TIE; FROM $8

Satin Bow Tie for Dog
Etsy

This satin doggie bow tie is perfect for any occasion. It comes in several colors and features a Velcro fastener that makes it easy to attach to a collar. Plus, 10 percent of every sale goes to charity: specifically to SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and Feeding Pets of the Homeless.

Find It: Etsy

19. RED DOG DRESS; FROM $34

dog in dress
Etsy

Your good boy or girl will look red carpet-ready in this elegant gown. The voluminous tulle skirt is to die for, and each bow is embellished with beads. Custom orders are also available.

Find It: Etsy

20. DOG TIE; FROM $13

Dog tie
Etsy

Your pooch will be ready to stun at any black tie event. This tie is designed like a collar, making it easy to dress your four-legged friend. This Etsy store gives back: 10 perfect of all sales are donated to an animal protection association.

Find It: Etsy

21. NAUTICAL DOG DRESS WITH MATCHING LEASH; $20

Dog sailor dress
BaxterBoo

Perfect for a day on the town or setting sail in a schooner, this is the sailor outfit you never knew your best furry friend needed. This vintage throwback also comes with a matching leash.

Find It: BaxterBoo

22. TARTAN FLANNEL PET BOW TIE; $5.50

tartan pet bow tie
Etsy

Your dog or cat will turn heads in this flannel tartan bow tie. It has a convenient elastic loop that slides over your pup's collar.

Find It: Etsy

23. PUCCI DOG SHIRT; $23

dog in Pucci dog shirt
Etsy

Only the fanciest dogs wear, err, Pucci. Grab this punny "designer" t-shirt for your pup. This high-quality cotton statement piece is perfect for small breeds.

Find It: Etsy

24. PINK POLKA DOT AND LACE DOG HARNESS DRESS; $20

Pink Polka Dot and Lace Designer Dog Harness Dress
BaxterBoo

This feminine pink polka dot dress is simply adorable. It features a convenient built-in harness and comes with a matching leash.

Find It: BaxterBoo

25. PET SWEATER VEST; $6

pet sweater vest
Amazon

Your dog or cat will look like an erudite Oxford professor in this sweater vest. Note that the button on the pocket is shaped like a bone.

Find It: Amazon

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Animals
John Lennon Was a Crazy Cat Lady
Chloe Efforn
Chloe Efforn

John Lennon was crazy about cats, and though he owned a couple of dogs (Sally and Bernard) over the years, he was better known for getting by with a little help from his feline friends.

1. ELVIS

Growing up, Lennon's beloved mother, Julia, had a named cat after Elvis Presley, whom Julia and John were both crazy about. The Lennons later realized they had misnamed Elvis when "he" gave birth to a litter of kittens in the cupboard, but they didn't change the cat's name based on that small mistake.

2. AND 3. TICH AND SAM

He had two other cats as a boy growing up in Liverpool: Tich and Sam. Tich passed away while Lennon was away at art school (which he attended from 1957 to 1960), and Sam was named after famous British diarist Samuel Pepys

4. TIM

One day, John Lennon found a stray cat in the snow, which his Aunt Mimi allowed him to keep. (John's Aunt Mimi raised him from a young boy through his late teenage years, and he affectionately referred to her as the Cat Woman.) He named the marmalade-colored half-Persian cat Tim.

Tim remained a special favorite of John's. Every day, he would hop on his Raleigh bicycle and ride to Mr. Smith's, the local fishmonger, where he would buy a few pieces of fish for Tim and his other cats. Even after John became famous as a Beatle, he would often call and check in on how Tim was doing. Tim lived a happy life and survived to celebrate his 20th birthday.

5. AND 6. MIMI AND BABAGHI

John and his first wife, Cynthia, had a cat named Mimi who was, of course, named after his Aunt Mimi. They soon got another cat, a tabby who they dubbed Babaghi. John and Cynthia continued acquiring more cats, eventually owning around 10 of them.

7. JESUS

As a Beatle, John had a cat named Jesus. The name was most likely John's sarcastic response to his "the Beatles are bigger than Jesus" controversy of 1966. But he wasn't the only band member with a cat named Jesus: Paul McCartney once had a trio of kittens named Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

8. AND 9. MAJOR AND MINOR

In the mid-1970s, John had an affair with his secretary, May Pang. One day, the studio receptionist brought a box of kittens into the recording studio where John and May were. "No," John immediately told May, "we can't, we're traveling too much." But she picked up one of the kittens and put it over her shoulder. Then John started stroking the kitten and decided to keep it. At the end of the day, the only other kitten left was a little white one that was so loud no one else wanted it. So they adopted it as well and named the pair Major and Minor.

10. AND 11. SALT AND PEPPER

John owned a pair of black and white cats with his wife Yoko Ono. As befitting John's offbeat sense of humor, many places report he christened the white cat Pepper and the black one Salt.

12. AND 13. GERTRUDE AND ALICE

John and Yoko also had two Russian Blue cats named Gertrude and Alice, who each met tragic ends. After a series of sicknesses, Gertrude was diagnosed with a virus that could become dangerous to their young son, Sean. John later said that he held Gertrude and wept as she was euthanized. 

Later, Alice jumped out of an open window in the Lennons' high-rise apartment at the Dakota and plunged to her death. Sean was present at the time of the accident, and he remembers it as the only time he ever saw his father cry.

14., 15. AND 16. MISHA, SASHA, AND CHARO

In later years, John also owned three cats he named Misha, Sasha, and Charo. Always an artist at heart, John loved to sketch his many cats, and he used some of these pictures as illustrations in his books.

This piece originally ran in 2012.

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