By Vanessa Vandersande DVM
Traveling with your pet may be for fun or it may be a matter of necessity but with a little advance planning it will be much easier for everyone involved. I have personal experience with traveling across the United States with two cats and a golden retriever in a small car, so hopefully my tips will be helpful and practical. (Oh, the stories I could tell about those trips…)
First, make sure all of your animals are in good health. A health certificate is required if you are traveling across state lines and your vet can write one for you. Just keep in mind that you will need to have your pet examined no more than 10 days before traveling. Also, consider the destination. In places with lots of mosquitoes your pet may need heartworm prevention. Places with ticks means that your pet may need different vaccinations and tick preventive. Your vet can help you plan accordingly.
Planning for the trip is essential. Useful items to have on hand would include waterproof bags for soiled bedding, extra bedding, travel litter boxes and travel food and water dishes. My personal favorite item is a box of baby wipes, which are great for cleaning up little accidents and wiping up fur. If your pets are not already microchipped, this is the time! A microchip may save your pet’s life if they are somehow separated from you during your journey.
If you are planning to travel by airplane it is strongly recommended that your pet travel with you in the cabin. It is difficult for airlines to provide safe travel in cargo, due to the real possibility of excessive heat or cold in the storage area under the plane. It may be necessary to pay an additional fee for your pet to travel in the cabin but the safety it provides is well worth the additional expense.
Some nervous pets may suffer from travel related nausea or extreme fear. Thankfully we’ve come a long way with pharmaceuticals and there are some excellent anti-nausea drugs on the market. There are also some excellent drugs available for stressed pets, products ranging from pheromone emitting sprays and collars to tranquilizers that cause mild sedation and help take the edge off the fear.
No matter your destination, proper planning and preparation will give you and your pets a safe and exciting vacation! Happy Travels!