Traveling with Pets

May 14th, 2014 by capeway

imagesThis is the time of year that people start to make summer travel plans. As most pets are considered part of the family, it is not unusual for pets to accumulate frequent flier points along with their owners. Here are some pointers to keep the journey safe and enjoyable.

The Road Trip

How many times have you been driving along, only to glance at the car next to you and see a guy happily cruising with a dog in his lap? Is the dog steering? Does he use the dog as a GPS? I try to get as many car lengths away from that vehicle as possible! Pets should always be restrained in cars, they are just as likely to be injured in the event of an accident as you are.

If you have an SUV or station wagon, the cargo area can easily be blocked off from the rest of the vehicle with custom grates. If Pooch gets his own seat, remember to buckle him in as well! Many harnesses of varying sizes are available that attach to seat belts. If dogs should always be restrained in cars, the same goes double for cats. Cats should not be seen sunning themselves at the rear window next to a Beanie Baby collection! A carrier that can again be seat belted in is ideal for small journeys, larger journeys may require a larger carrier, preferably placed on the floor, with food, water and litterbox space.  Stop often to stretch, hydrate and refresh. Many rest areas have designated dog walk areas, drinking fountains and bowls….I’m sure cats on harnesses are accepted in these areas as well!

Interestingly many dogs get carsick. I used to recommend avoiding meals shortly before travel but now we can also offer a dog medication designed to prevent motion sickness called Cerenia, effective if given a few hours before traveling.

Gone too are the days of sneaking Butch into the last room at the end of Motel 8. There are many pet friendly hotels in most states, check out or try

For clients planning long road trips I often recommend mapping out emergency vet hospitals along the way, just in case.

A few words on camping…

Make sure the campground accepts pets…I know, seems like a no-brainer!

Make sure your pet likes camping and is healthy enough to withstand the great outdoors. A nervous Chihuahua who is afraid of noise and people may just want to stay home. An 8 year old English Bulldog probably should be inside in the AC and not at a campsite in August.

Make sure your pet is current on vaccines. Rabies is a legal requirement, but especially in this area you may want to discuss the pros and cons of vaccinating your dog against Lyme disease. Guard your pet against parasites by keeping them on a monthly broad spectrum dewormer, found in all heartworm preventatives, and using a flea/tick preventative as well.

First Aid Kit

You never know when minor injuries may happen on the road or at the campsite. Here is a brief list of what I would include in a first aid kit :

– a disinfectant like a mild antibacterial soap, cotton balls or clean hand towels

– bandage material – non stick Telfa pads, gauze, wrap, porous tape

-topical triple antibiotic cream

-Benadryl tablets – for minor allergic reactions, hives

– tweezers – for ticks as well as small splinters

 Adventures in the Air

If your little Yorkie weighs less than 15 lb, he may be able to stay in the cabin with you as your “carry-on”.  Unfortunately, if your Labrador Retriever is too big to fit under the seat, you are left with putting him in cargo. This requires him to be in a properly labelled (your name, address, phone number, his name on his collar/leash), airline approved crate. I also encourage all traveling pets to be microchipped. Always check with the airline on what paperwork they require for pets traveling in cargo. Most require a health certificate issued within the last 14 to 30 days indicating the pet is healthy and free of contagious diseases and proof of current rabies vaccination.  Some require the vet to state the pet is healthy enough to withstand a certain temperature range (cargo can get cold, the tarmac can get hot). Contact the airlines directly and do not just rely on websites. Talk to a person. Find out if anybody checks on pets in cargo, what the temperature and air pressure are kept at, how long the pet could be outside if there is a lay over.

As for specific requirements for entry of pets into different countries, I encourage people to check out

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