Traveling With Your Pet
Pets enjoy a vacation as much as you do. Traveling with your animal friend can be a great experience, as long as you follow a few simple precautions to make the trip as comfortable for them as possible.
First of all, make sure that all your pets’ vaccinations are up-to-date and that it is in good enough physical condition to handle the stress of a trip. If you are not sure about these things, a visit to your veterinarian will ensure that your pet is in good shape. You may need vaccination certificates or general health certificates, depending on where you are traveling and these can be issued at the hospital. Also make sure that you have enough supplies of any medication or special food that your pet needs, and that your pet is free of intestinal parasites and on heartworm, flea, and tick preventative if appropriate.
Next, make sure that your pet will be welcome. If you are planning to fly, check with the airline about their requirements for pet travelers (extra fees, any certificates that are necessary, approved travel cage sizes and specifications). Call ahead to any hotel, bed and breakfast, or campsite that you are planning to visit to verify that you will be bringing your friend along and to ask if there are any special requirements. And of course, if you are planning to stay at a friend’s place, check with them before showing up with your pet – there may not be enough space for it, or someone in the household may have allergies.
If you are traveling by car, make sure that your pet is properly restrained – in a cage or cat carrier or with a doggy seatbelt. Do not let it wander around the car as many accidents have occurred when a pet suddenly jumps onto the driver or squirms around the brake or accelerator pedals. Even though they love to do it, dogs should not be allowed to stick their heads out the window as objects may blow into their eyes and cause injury. Your pet should be able to stand up stretch, and move around within whatever restraint you are using. To prevent carsickness, don’t feed your pet for 8 hours before the trip – if it is very hungry, give it just a light snack. Ask your veterinarian if a tranquilizer is appropriate for your pet or Cerenia (which will prevent vomiting) – most pets don’t need them, and the current recommendation is to avoid them if at all possible. If it is very nervous about traveling, and if you must travel with it, ask for the mildest possible tranquilizer and keep its use to a minimum. Make frequent stops to allow your pet to relieve itself and have a drink of water. Try to avoid leaving your pet alone in a car, especially during the heat of the summer. An enclosed car can rapidly become very hot (over 120 degrees) and lead to heat prostration.
When traveling out of state, make sure that you have your pet’s health and vaccination certificates available for inspection if needed. Overseas travel may be more complicated. Some countries require only vaccination certificates, others require health certificates (which may need to be signed by a specially accredited veterinarian), and still others require a quarantine for up to six months. Call the local embassy or consulate several weeks ahead of time to find out what is needed. This will give you time to make the necessary arrangements.
The following is a brief checklist of what to pack:
Sufficient food for the trip (and a bit extra in case of unexpected delays) – you want to make sure your pet eats its usual diet in order to avoid digestive upsets. You might also want to bring along gallon jugs of the water your pet drinks at home (for very finicky pets or those whose systems may be sensitive to a change in water).
Any medications that your pet is taking (including heartworm preventative and flea/tick control). as well as your veterinarian’s phone number. Identification of your pet, a collar, or verification of tattoos or microchips. Carrier or seat belt harness: leash, halter, portable kennel Cat litter and disposable litter pans.
Grooming supplies brushes, flea combs, ear wash (if your pet is prone to ear infections or is going to be swimming), tweezers for tick removal (if you will be camping or hiking in the woods). Copies of health certificates, vaccination certificates (especially rabies), rabies tag (if it’s not on your pet’s collar), and a copy of your pet’s medical history (if your pet has a chronic medical problem that might need attention on the road).
When traveling with your pet, try not to ever leave it alone (especially in a hotel or motel room where it may make noise and bother other guests; or at a campsite where it may encounter hostile wildlife). Make sure to be responsible and clean up any mess your pet makes, and don’t let it annoy other travelers. Some people are uncomfortable around animals and may not want to interact with your friend. Even though you know that your pet is friendly, get permission from parents before allowing young children to touch or play with it. Being a courteous and conscientious owner will make your trip pleasant and fun for you, your fellow travelers and especially for your pet.
Have a great trip!
Contact Emerson Animal Hospital P.A. in Emerson, New Jersey, to show your pet how much you care.