Summer travel season is here, and for pets not joining the adventure, I encourage pet owners to discuss one or more options with their veterinarian.
Commercial kennels can be great, but they can be costly and stressful to your beloved pets. It is important to visit the facility, along with your list of questions about their care protocol. Personally, I like to suggest that owners bring their own food, to avoid or minimize tummy upsets, resulting in diarrhea or worse. Some facilities allow pet blankets or toys. Be sure to mark them adequately, and sign off on leaving them there. I always state to pet owners that the kennel owners and administrators may have the best intentions in mind, but the care of the pets often comes down to the responsible actions of the kennel cleaner instead. So, again, be sure you can be comfortable with the group you select. Other options would be to hire a pet sitter to either care for your animal at their home, or allow them to stay at your home. The latter obviously is a better option for most animals. Ask for testimonials in either case, and make your best choice. Always leave an information packet with any scenario, including emergency numbers for you and the veterinarian, as well as pertinent patient health information.
Taking pets along on the trip is very common these days. Whether you are driving or flying, the big point is planning. Where will you stay? Does your hotel accommodate pets? If it does, in most cases, you might need a health certificate, which is provided by your own veterinarian and offers relevant health and vaccine information. If flying, be sure to check with the airlines regarding special requirements needed, such as the sort of crate required. Very small animals may fit under your seat, while others will be required to be placed in baggage-holding or other related areas of the plane. Don’t over-feed in any case, and provide a stable water bowl, if needed.
I always encourage pet owners to be sure animals have adequate identification on board. Collars with tags and names are useful. Some pets have tattoos, or better yet, a microchip that has important contact and other information. While driving, remember that frequent stops (about two to four hours) are appropriate for your pets. Be very careful about walking dogs around rest stops. Keep your pet very secure from escape or worse, from theft. On the other hand, please note that heat can be a deadly factor. Temperatures in the 70s, for more than 10 minutes in a partially closed car, can be dangerous. Heat stroke may only take minutes to develop to a point of serious concern. It would be a great idea to have a list of veterinary emergency facilities along your travel path, just in case. Again, I encourage minimal feeding of solids and intermittent water breaks.
Another issue relates to securing your pets in the car as you travel. Maybe a seat-belt device, crating, or, if sitting on your lap, do it cautiously. Some animals require a mild sedative or other pharmaceuticals like Dramamine or Benadryl to help with nausea and anxiety. Your vet can counsel you about other options.
Bottom line: Plan well and be cautious. Here’s wishing you a great vacation adventure!
Dr. Doug Pernikoff practices at the Clarkson-Wilson Veterinary Clinic/Veterinary Pet Rescue. For more information, visit clarksonwilsonvet.com.