Traveling with your pet
With warm weather on its way, more people will be traveling with their pets. Problems may occur but preparing in advance can mean the difference between a minor inconvenience and a ruined trip or vacation.
Before you leave have your veterinarian examine your pet especially if your pet is elderly or has a chronic condition. Make sure that all vaccinations are up-to-date and keep a copy of the rabies certificate with you. Make sure you take a supply of all medications including flea medication. If you will be traveling for a length of time or your pet has a significant medical history, take a copy of the medical records as well. You may also want or need to get a certificate of health from your veterinarian. This certificate basically states your pet is healthy to travel and is not showing signs of a disease that could be passed to other animals or to people. Certain vaccinations must be up to date for a health certificate to be issued. Discuss with your veterinarian where you will be traveling with your pet as they may have recommendations for you to ensure your pet’s good health. For instance, heartworm disease is common in some parts of the country but not in others. Your veterinarian may recommend that your pet be tested and then given a heartworm preventative.
Keeping identification on your pet is vital. Even if your pet has a microchip (an implanted chip with an assigned number that is registered to you), make sure they have an ID tag on their collar or harness. A harness is safer than a collar as many collars are designed to “break away” when snagged on something or a pet may wiggle out of it. Another idea is to buy an inexpensive lightweight nylon collar or harness to wear in addition to his/her regular collar. Write your pet's name and a contact phone number on it with a permanent marker. Make sure that all registered information is up to date, all tags have current information and there are back up numbers in case you cannot be contacted. You want to make it as easy as possible for someone to be able to return your pet. If your pet is diabetic, have a tag attached that states this.
When traveling make sure your pet is properly restrained so it is not able to jump from a moving vehicle or run out through an opened door. Never leave a cat or small dog leashed and unattended at a campground, rest area, etc. A tethered pet is vulnerable to escaping, being stolen or attacked by other free roaming animals. A large pet carrier or dog kennel are safer alternatives to having them tied up.
Taking a pet first aid class can be helpful so you will know how to treat minor problems should they arise. Check with your local humane society or Red Cross to find classes in your area. You can also buy pet first aid guides. The American Red Cross publishes an excellent guide that includes helpful information as well as an educational DVD. Also carry with you a first aid kit specifically for pets.
Now go and have a great time and don’t forget to take plenty of pictures. You will have many happy hours together as you and your pet create new memories!