Vet Tips: Traveling With Your Pet

We don’t live in Middle Earth but if we did, and Gandolf came knocking on your door and asked if you were ready for an adventure and travel, would you be willing to go? Of course! But you would not leave your beloved pets behind and would want to take them with you. You would certainly ask yourself before setting off with the white-bearded guy with the deep voice, What do I take, and am I prepared?  What should I have for my pets?

Well, we are not Hobbits and Gandolf isn’t coming around any time soon, but we do travel with our pets. So what things should be on your pet travel list? There are several considerations when traveling with your pet. Will this just be a day trip, or several days?  Within the US or a more adventurous excursion with flights involved or even to other countries? How well does my pet travel? Do they get motion sickness?

Some basic preparations would include having your pet properly identified. Microchips are very effective, easy and one of the best identifications available for your pet. In fact, some other countries of the world require microchip ID before pets can enter their country. Though collars with tags are not as effective, they should still be used. The tags should include ID such as phone number, and even an address. You might carry a picture of your pet in case they get lost. As the saying go, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Ensure that your pet is current on immunizations and carry records of these with you. If some emergency comes up with your vehicle and you  need to board your pet, the facility will want to make sure the vaccines are current. Your pet may also get sick when out of town on this adventure and may warrant medical advice. The process is so much more streamline if you are prepared with previous medical records for the veterinarian examining your pet. Plus, as you travel, your pet may be exposed to diseases that they would not normally be exposed to at home. Don’t forget your pet’s medications! Plan for the proper amount and maybe a little extra just in case you have any delays.

Bring your pet’s normal foods and again, maybe a little extra for those unforeseen disruptions in your plans. This is especially true if pets tend to be picky, have sensitive tummys or are on special diets.

We often get questions regarding tranquilizers when pets travel. Sometimes these can be warranted. However, if you help to prepare your pet for travel most do very well without sedation. This would include short trips, maybe only around the block initially, gradually increasing distances. Make it fun and use treats such as Pur Luv Chewy Bites to make the experience more positive.

You’ll also want to have your pet restrained properly and get them used to some sort of crate. This will be especially important if flight travel is ever in your plans of travel with your pet. Your veterinarian can discuss options with you and whether or not sedation should be used. If your pet experiences motion sickness, your veterinarian can help this as well.

For international travel and any flight travel, Health Certificates provided by your veterinarian are a requirement. An examination and the proper paperwork will have to be done within 10 days or less of your departure date. Also check with airlines about any additional requirements they may have. Some require letters by a veterinarian that the pet is healthy to fly. For international travel this can sometimes be quite tricky depending on the country you are entering. This takes much more planning and being prepared well in advance of departure – sometimes months ahead of time. If you are planning this type of trip, contact your veterinarian at least 4-6 months before departure. It will save you many headaches and much undue stress.

Just a change of scenery in the way of a small “over the river and through the woods” might be in your plans with your pets included, or it might be a greater adventure such as that of Mr. Bilbo Baggins. While we won’t run into the likes of Gollum, or be attacked by Elven beings or Trolls or see fire breathing dragons, it is still best to be prepared for the unexpected when traveling with your pets.  Let your pets share in your travel and adventures when possible. It will truly add to your memories.


 -Photo Credit: From flickr by Delusional Danny


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