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Include pets in your vacation plans

If you're vacationing with your dog in Florida, you're never far from civilization. Veterinarians, big-box pet stores and pet-friendly hotels are within a short drive. A Google search or sites like bringfido.com or dogfriendly.com can help locate them.

Larger theme parks, such as Busch Gardens in Tampa, offer kennel services; make sure to bring your pet's vaccination record along.

Other essentials for a Florida vacation with your dog: drinking water, heartworm medicine and even sunscreen. With temperatures in the 70s and 80s in many Florida locations during the winter, dogs (and people) can easily become dehydrated. Specially formulated sunscreen for dogs isn't a bad idea, especially if your furry friend has a short, fair coat and pink skin.

Many beaches in Florida allow leashed dogs on the sand, but check first. In some places, you can receive a heavy fine.

Pet-friendly lodging

Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort, Lake Buena Vista. Located on 750 acres near the theme parks, this campground allows RVs with full hookups and tent camping. Some spaces allow pets, but spaces are limited and should be reserved in advance. Leashed dogs are allowed on some trails near the campground. There is also an off-leash dog park within the campground.

Best Friends Pet Resort, Lake Buena Vista. Best Friends provides day and overnight care for pets in the Orlando area. Discounts are available for Disney World Resort guests, but anyone can use the service, which starts at $27 for doggie day care.

Loews hotels at Universal Orlando Resort. All three are pet-friendly.

La Quinta. This chain offers free stays for dogs.

Aloft Hotels. This Starwood boutique hotel chain offers hip decor and sophisticated style. Aloft offers two locations in Jacksonville, one in Tallahassee and several opening in Miami and Orlando. A recent weekday room rate in Jacksonville was $69, not including taxes. Policies vary regarding weight restrictions for dogs, fees and deposits.

Luxury hotels. Pampered people have pampered pooches. For small dogs (under 25 pounds), try Ritz Carlton hotels in Sarasota, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Miami Beach. Nonrefundable pet fees vary, but hover in the $250 range. The Mandarin Oriental in Miami also accepts pets up to 25 pounds. The Mandarin sells dog T-shirts bedazzled with Swarovski crystals, and the concierge can book doggie boot camp appointments and dog massages.

Include pets in your vacation plans 01/14/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 5:26pm]

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