Travelling with pets

The summer months are the official vacation time for many families. With the current school strike going on, many people are finding themselves on vacation sooner than they expected. If you consider going on a family getaway, don't be discouraged if you didn’t plan an arrangement for your pet. Owning a pet should not restrict you from travelling and going on vacations. Even hotels and airlines are acknowledging this fact and try to be accommodating for pets.

Before you travel there are few things you should think about in order to keep the trip safe and pleasurable for both you and your pet.

I strongly recommend that all pet owners put an identification tag on the pet’s collar and to consider injecting an identification microchip. A microchip is permanent and can’t be removed in case the pet is lost or stolen.

For the campers out there, it is recommended to administer deworming, tick and flea control and heartworm prevention medications to your pet. Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes and this is the peak of the season.

If you are planning a trip outside of the province or country you should also check to see if there is a specific prevalence of any infectious agent in your destination area that might require a specific preventative treatment.

Before traveling anywhere, make sure your pet's vaccinations are up to date. If you are planning on crossing an international border, including the United States, a Rabies vaccine is mandatory.

Whether you are traveling by air or by car, you should think about the factors that will make your pet comfortable and safe. When traveling by air, the pet has to be placed in a travelling crate.

Nowadays many people take their pet on overseas vacations. Some airlines even permit carrying a small pet on board with you.  If you are traveling with a large breed dog, check with your airline as to what the rules and restrictions are for the crate size and weight because those vary between the different airline companies. If your crate is very large you might face a problem with the airline or will be required to pay an extra fee. It is better to be well prepared and not to face unpleasant surprises on the day of the actual trip.

The pet should be comfortable in its crate. When you are choosing a travelling crate, make sure it is large enough to allow the animal stand, sit upright and lie down comfortably in the crate.

Make sure that the crate is not broken and that it can be latched securely. Label the crate with a “Live Animal” designation, and your contact numbers both at home and at the destination address.

Placing a familiar blanket and safe toys can help the animal feel more comfortable. It is very important to make sure that the crate is well ventilated. Some owners cover the crate to limit the pet’s vision and reduce stress. This cover should be removed before boarding the plane to ensure adequate air supply.

The question of whether to sedate the pet is always a dilemma to the owners. I usually recommend avoiding sedation if possible, and to sedate only animals that are extremely stressed.  Sedating an animal without being able to monitor it might bear some risks.

Make sure you put enough water in the crate that will last for the whole length of trip.

If the length of the trip and the medical condition of the pet allows it, it is better not to leave food in the crate and to feed soon after arriving at the destination.

When you travel by car you are not obligated to use a crate but I definitely recommend using a crate, especially when traveling with a cat. Cats tend to get extremely stressed in an unfamiliar situation and can escape very easily if not confined.

If your pet suffers from car sickness your vet can prescribe anti-nausea medications.

When traveling by car with a dog, it is recommended not to let it sit in the front passenger sit if there is an airbag in the car. It is better to place the dog in the back seat. You can find different car seat harnesses and other safety accessories in pet equipment stores. Remember to make frequent stops for the dog to drink, exercise and to relieve itself, and keep your dog on a leash at all times.


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About the Author

Dr. Moshe Oz owns Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital, a small animal veterinary practice in West Kelowna.

Dr. Oz has deep love and affection for animals. It was his childhood dream to become a veterinarian, a dream that he has fulfilled when he graduated with honours from KUVM,on 2006. Dr. Oz's special interest is internal medicine and surgery.

In his free time Dr. Oz enjoys training and racing triathlons, including the legendary Penticton's Ironman.

Dr. Oz can be contacted through his website: www.KelownaVet.ca

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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