Consumer Reports: Traveling safely with your dog

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Shirleen Allicot has more on road trip tips. (WPVI)

If you're packing up the car and your pooch, listen up. Consumer Reports has some helpful tips to make sure traveling with your pet goes off without a hitch.

To ensure your four-legged friend's comfort and safety, you do need to do some prepping.

One-year-old Mabel and her family have been preparing for a six-hour road trip to Vermont.

"We started doing small trips around town, going to our neighbors' home in the car, that sort of thing," owner Lauren Fidge said.

And that's not all. Just ask trainer Holly Santana.

"You should have consistency, so you want the same food," she said. "You want the same schedule. And so if they eat at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., keep it 6 a.m. and 6 p.m."

She says to bring a towel or bed with the scent from home, keep the car cool and take breaks at least every three hours. Also useful are cleaning supplies, doggie bags, a leash, a collar and ID tags with your dog's name and your contacts. And don't forget about safety.

"Pets can act as projectiles if they are not secured," Consumer Reports auto expert Jen Stockburger said.

Securing them is a must.

The Center for Pet Safety, along with Subaru, conducted crash tests on dummy dogs. They found among the most secure restraints was the Sleepypod Air carrier for about $160, the Gunner Kennels G1 Intermediate crate for $500 and the Sleepypod Clickit Sport harness between $65 and $75.

They recommend dogs up to 90 pounds be secured in the rear seat opposite the driver's side. In larger cars, dogs 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, larger dogs in the third row. And if traveling with children, secure the child in the second row and the dog behind on the opposite side.

"Family trips to Vermont are very important to us," Fidge said. "I want to make sure that everyone in the car is safe."

Another important thing to remember is your pet's vaccination records, which can be useful to have if your dog gets sick and you need to visit a local vet.

Dog-friendly hotels have been known to ask for them as well.

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