Ask the Vet: Plan now for holiday pet travels

Maple in Car

Yes, fall is almost here. And while your next big vacation with your pets might not happen until Thanksgiving or winter school break, now is the perfect time to plan for traveling with our pets.

Some people like to plan travels meticulously, and some like to roam free. It’s really a matter of personal choice. But things are slightly different for us pet owners. We need to make some basic preparations before hitting the road or boarding the plane.

Thanks to the veterinarians from BluePearl Veterinary Partners for these tips to make sure your pets stay safe and happy while traveling.

Let’s start with something really basic. You don’t want your dogs or cats to get lost when you pull into a rest stop off the Interstate. Remember they’re likely to bolt out of the car after having been cooped up. So consider using a crate when traveling in your car. This is especially important for cats. Definitely use a leash when walking the dog outside.

Talk to the veterinarian if your pet is especially anxious or prone to sickness while traveling. There are some medications available for both. Just make sure that any medicine you give to your pet is something you’ve already discussed with your veterinarian. Remember, some medicines meant for people can be toxic to your pets.

Of course you’ll want to bring any medicine your pet needs, but make sure you have it in the original bottles, in case you run out. Also, make sure heartworm and flea prevention medicines are current and bring your pet’s most recent medical report in case you need to show it to a veterinarian.

When flying, try to use a carrier with wheels. Even a 10-pound animal can get heavy when carried in a shoulder carrier walking through a long airport terminal. Also, learn everything you can about where and how your pet will be accommodated during air travel.

Remember that flying can be unsafe for some dogs. Avoid air travel if your dog is elderly or ill or has any respiratory or cardiovascular disease or is very anxious. It could be dangerous and may not even be allowed, especially in cargo. Short-nosed breeds (bulldogs, pugs, etc.) are more at risk because of respiratory issues.

If you haven’t microchipped your pet, schedule a trip now to your family veterinarian. Oh, you did this five years ago? Well in that case, remember to update your contact information – a step that’s easy to forget. Also, make sure your pets have visible tags.

Hydration is critical, even in winter travel. Carry collapsible bowls and make sure there is a way to let your dog drink during car or airline travel.

Remember, dogs love to eat things that they shouldn’t. So be wary when you show up to your brother’s house and discover the nieces and nephews have 10,000 Legos strewn across the bedroom floor. You might be making an unscheduled trip to the ER.

Does this sound like too much? Well don’t overlook the possibility of keeping your dog or cat close to home, boarded with a veterinarian or a kennel. Or find a pet-sitter. But if you’re planning a Thanksgiving trip, line something up now. Kennels always have a full house during the holidays!

By BluePearl Veterinary Partners. In partnership with NEADS.

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