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Going on a Trip – Plan Ahead
When you are planning a trip you need to include your pet(s) in your planning. Will your pet be travelling with you or will you provide for his/her care while you are away? In either case you need to think ahead.
Regardless of your destination you should always prepare for the unexpected. Make sure your animal has identification (collar or tags with pertinent information). Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date and take its current vaccination and health records along with you.
If travelling out of the country, you need to know what entry requirements are needed to enter the country. For entry into the United States the recommendation is to have a veterinarian check your pet and provide a health certificate no later than ten days prior to your border crossing. Requirements to enter a country other than the U.S. may be extensive and specify a lengthy veterinary health protocol before your animal will be admitted into their country (eg. six months for Britain). Your travel agent or the consulate or embassy of your destination country should be able to provide you with the proper protocols for entry.
If you will be staying at or visiting a resort or hotel in route, call ahead to make sure they are pet friendly. Find information about veterinary clinics in the area of your destination so you know where to go in the case of a pet emergency.
If travelling by air, contact the airline directly. Each airline has their own guidelines for transporting pets. If you plan on flying with your pet the airline must be notified when you purchase your ticket. Some airlines will allow a small pet to fly in the cabin with you. Contact the airline directly to get details. Be prepared to pay extra for the transport of your pet. When discussing your pet’s travel with the airline, have questions prepared ahead of time and get all details of your pet’s transportation in writing. Try to book a direct flight to your destination.
It is always prudent to have your pet in for a health check prior to a trip. During this visit you can be assured that your pet is in good health, prescriptions can be prepared so that you have sufficient medication for the duration of your stay and the veterinarian can advise you of any potential health hazards to your pet in the area of your destination (eg. flea, tick and heartworm in the Southern U.S.).
Finally, not all animals travel well or are comfortable in strange environments, older or ill pets may not stand up to the rigours of travel. In these situations, it may be advisable to seek alternatives to travel for your pet. You may consider leaving your pet in the care of a friend or relative or a reputable boarding facility.
When you leave your pet in the care of someone leave important information with that care giver during your absence. This information should include
Your pet’s current vaccination information;
Phone number and address of your veterinarian;
Phone number and address where you can be reached in case of emergency (if possible);
A statement that informs your veterinarian that the care giver has authorization to act on your behalf in the care of your pet for the duration of your absence and direction for the care of your pet. This statement should include a maximum dollar value for expenses should an emergency arise. Dealing with an emergency can be very stressful for your pet’s care giver and your veterinarian. A statement indicating your wishes/expectations will relieve some of that stress.
If you choose to board your pet, most boarding facilities require dogs to have a Bordetella vaccine (Kennel Cough) in addition to the other vaccines to be up to date. A Bordetella vaccine should be administered no less than five days before entering the boarding facility. The vaccine is good for one year.
By planning ahead, and attending to your pet's travel needs, your pet will be ready to depart when you are, ensuring that you, your family and your pet(s) will have a memorable vacation for the right reasons.
Travelling With Your Pet
Some of us will already be planning summer holidays and you may want to take your pet(s) with you. It is important to prepare and plan ahead if you intend to travel with your pet. Here are some tips to keep in mind to make your trip a positive experience.
If you are travelling out of the country you should have your pet's health checked. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends that you obtain a health certificate for your pet dated no more than ten days before departure.
Be prepared for the unexpected. Make sure your animal has identification (collar or tags with pertinent information). Take along the vaccination and health records for your pet. Find information about veterinary clinics in the area of your destination in case you have an emergency.
Feed your pet well in advance of your departure, but nothing to eat within two hours of your departure time and be sure to pack enough food and water for the trip, as well as enough food for the entire vacation.
Your pet should be secured in a crate that is large enough that he/she can stand, comfortably lie down, and turn around in. The crate should also be secured. In vehicles, dogs can be safely secured in canine seat belts.
Dogs and cats can suffer from car sickness. It is advised to accustom the animal to vehicle travel by taking them on short car rides prior to a big trip.
Make frequent stops to allow your pet some exercise, water and constitution stops. Always keep your animal on a leash.
If you are on an extended trip and will be making over night stops, call ahead to make sure your accommodation is pet friendly.
Never leave your pet alone unattended at any time and never leave your pet alone in the car. High temperatures inside the car can cause dehydration, heat stroke and even death.
If travelling by air, contact the airline directly. Each airline has their own guidelines for carrying pets. Ask questions, get everything in writing. Try to book a direct flight to your destination.
If you are travelling to an unknown destination, contact your travel agency or the country's consulate or embassy to determine the entry requirements for your pet.
Finally, not all animals travel well or are comfortable in strange environments; older or ill pets may not stand up to the rigours of travel. In these situations, it may be advisable to seek alternatives to travel for your pet. You may consider leaving your pet in the care of a friend or relative; or a reputable boarding facility. If you choose to board, most boarding facilities require your pet to have a Bordetella vaccine (Kennel Cough). This vaccine should be administered no less than five days before entering the boarding facility. The vaccine is good for one year.
By planning ahead, being prepared and practicing preventative measures, all family members can have a memorable summer vacation.
Safety - When Your Pet Is In The Vehicle
Dogs and cats should be in some form of restraint when traveling in your vehicle. They should not be free to move around the vehicle nor should they be sitting in your lap. This is a distraction to the driver and should an accident occur they could be severely or fatally injured. They may also injure other passengers in the vehicle. Cats and small dogs can be transported in a carrier which can be secured with the automotive seat belt. There are seat belts available in various sizes for dogs at most pet supply stores.
Owners like to have the vehicle windows lowered so the dog can look out as they travel. They think they are enhancing the trip experience for their pet. However, there can be severe consequences. We can never predict what our animals may do at any point in time. If the window is too low, your pet may choose to exit the vehicle. This can result in severe injury when he/she hits the ground and he/she may find himself/herself in the path of other traffic. A more frequent consequence is eye infection or injury to the eye. If you are traveling at 80 km/hr, then the wind is hitting your dogs face at a minimum of 80 km/hr. Dust, debris, and insects are hitting your dogs face. When they enter the eye they cause infection or injury. You can have the window open an inch or so but do not open it enough that your dog can put its head outside. For these same reasons, dogs should never be transported in the open box of a truck, standing free, or tied.
When You Leave Your Pet Behind
Most pet magazines have run articles that provide valuable information on traveling with your pet. They cover: providing adequate food and water; sufficient rest stops; and, planning ahead for pet friendly accommodation when you arrive at your destination. Other articles discuss how to select the right facility to board your pet.
However, few articles give advice on what to do should you make plans to leave your pet behind either in the care of a boarding kennel, or a relative or friend. Often the pet is dropped at the door with a bag of food, a toy or two, and a brief description of the pet's daily routine.
When you leave your pet with a kennel, a friend or relative, you should leave some important information with the caregiver should a health emergency arise during your absence. This information should include:
Your pet's current vaccination information.
Phone number and address of your veterinarian.
Phone number and address where you can be reached in case of emergency (if possible).
A statement that informs your veterinarian that the caregiver has authorization to act on your behalf in the care of your pet for the duration of your absence. This statement should include a dollar value for expenses should an emergency arise.
Dealing with an emergency can be very stressful for your pet's caregiver and your veterinarian. They may not know what your wishes are or what you would want to spend in this situation. By authorizing a certain dollar amount, then your caregiver can authorize the initial emergency treatment. For example you may authorize an initial expenditure up to the amount of $500 without the caregiver or veterinarian having to get in touch with you. This should be an adequate amount to cover initial examination and treatment to stabilize your pet. Once the pet is stabilized, then the caregiver and veterinarian can get in touch with you to discuss your pets condition and what, if any further procedures are required. Depending upon the pet's condition and recommendations of the veterinarian you can make an informed decision regarding further treatment.