Seven Tips for Traveling with Your Pet

Are you planning a trip with your four-legged pals? Here are some helpful tips for traveling with your pets:

1. Call your veterinarian!

Start with a phone call to your local animal hospital. They can help you decide if leaving your pet at home with a pet sitter or at your favorite kennel is a better option. The logistics of some trips might not make travel fur baby friendly. If that’s the case, get a referral to a kennel in the area. Keep in mind, planning early will help make your trip run smoother–especially since some treatments, documents, and bookings require time to obtain. Do not hesitate to contact Family Pet Hospital with questions about kennels, sitters, or other travel arrangements.

2. Check with your airline.

If you’re flying, call your airline to find out the requirements for pet travel. Each airline has its own rules and regulations. Most require a health certificate which includes an acclimation statement that outlines what temperature and conditions your pet will need to travel in. To obtain a health certificate an exam is necessary and the certifications are only good for 10 days. Be sure to plan ahead!

3. For travel by car, invest in a carrier.

Your pet will appreciate having a safe haven while in transit and when arriving at a strange new destination. Add a favorite blanket or rug to provide a sense of familiarity. Another alternative is a pet safety harness that attaches to a seat belt. Avoid travel with your pet loose in your car for your safety and theirs. Be aware of traveling across state lines by car. Interstate travel often requires a health certificate or proof of rabies vaccination. More information on this can be found at the USDA APHIS Pet Travel website.

4. Travel bowls, plenty of pet food, favorite toys, supplies for clean-ups and all your pet’s medications are necessities!

a cat with her toys on vacation

Don’t take a “vacation” from your pet’s health maintenance. Whether it’s a daily medication or a monthly preventive, don’t let travel disrupt your pet’s treatment schedule. You especially don’t want to miss administering heartworm, and flea and tick preventives while you’re away from home. Additionally, consider whether fleas and ticks are problematic at your destination and acquire medication as needed.  Also be aware that travel to certain regions may require vaccinations.

5. Help your pet avoid motion sickness.

Although you want to make sure your pet has access to water, don’t feed your pet right before departure. Restricting food can help prevent digestive upset while in transit, whether traveling by car or plane. If your pet is not used to traveling by car, try to take small trips before your big adventure to acclimate your animals to the motion of your vehicle. Start with short trips and increase them by length to see how your pet will handle the travel.  Often travel in cars is associated with anxiety. Did you know that sometimes it is not just excitement, but also nausea that makes your pet nervous?  Prescription medications can help reduce motion sickness.

6. Inspect your new environment.

Once you arrive at your destination be sure to take a thorough tour of your temporary home. Your ski chalet, beach house, or hotel room may not be pet-proofed! Look for potential dangers, such as top-heavy furniture and weak door latches so your pet won’t get injured or sneak out. Keep holiday decorations, such as candles, plants and goodies out of reach. Monitor your pet’s exploration of the new digs. Although you may enjoy settling into a new place, your pet might be stressed with the strangeness of it all. Let your pet acclimate for a few minutes before removing the leash or opening the carrier. Make sure your dog or cat has an identification tag and a microchip to ensure you can be contacted if he or she escapes.

7. Prepare for any unseen emergencies.

We recommend preparing for any unseen emergencies by locating the nearest emergency veterinarian that can be utilized on short notice. It may be helpful to bring current vaccination records and any pertinent information.  Locating these beforehand and being prepared with proper documentation will save valuable time in the case of an emergency.

The vets and staff at Family Pet Hospital are happy to discuss traveling with your dog or cat.  For answers to questions about regional travel requirements to topics such as reducing motion sickness, give us a call before your trip.

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