Traveling With Your Pet
Car or Motorhome: A recent study has shown that 84% of pet owners consider their family pet like their child. This means that when it comes time for a family vacation, there is an expectation that their pet will participate with the family in the vacation. Before taking your dog or cat along on the family vacation, however, you will need to ensure your pet enjoys and tolerates travel in your car, or motorhome. If in doubt that Fluffy or Fido will be happy about being a passenger, start with short trips riding around the block. Watch your pet for showing signs of; trying to escape, fear reactions, and nausea from car sickness. Should these occur, you may need to take the time to acclimate your pet to travel until your pet is comfortable in the means of travel you have selected. Use short, happy trips to provide your pet the chance to become accustom to travel in your car or motorhome.
You will also need to ensure that you have a safe traveling environment for your pet. This could mean include use of a "pet taxi"; pet crate, pet seatbelt, or pet gate, that all can decrease injuries to your pet, should there be a traffic accident. Pets should not travel in the front seat due to the potential of an airbag being deployed and injuring them, as well as their interference with the driver's attention, steering and brake/gas pedal.
You will also need to check with the destination hotels/motels to ensure that they accept pets such as yours, and whether there are any size restrictions on pets as guests. You can review this information at this website. (http://www.petswelcome.com/milkbone/map.html)It may be also prudent to ensure that the communities you visit do not have any "banned" breeds/species (ie Pit bulls or exotic animals).
Make sure you travel with a copy of your pet's medical records, vaccine history and needed prescriptions. Be aware of the location of the nearest emergency veterinary facility along your way, in case emergency medical treatment is necessary. Ensure that you have enough medication and prescription food for the time you are away from your primary veterinarian. Should you need a refill, sometimes your home veterinarian can order the medications or prescription food delivered to your home in Florida in winter, or to the location you are staying with enough advance notice. Speak to your primary veterinarian about your travel plans well in advance of travel to review medical needs, prescription coordination and emergency care, if needed. Some locations may require special vaccinations or preventative medications (ie heartworm prevention while in Florida-generally year round).
For Travel to Canada: If you are planning a trip to Canada by car with your pet, please be sure that your pet has a current Rabies vaccination and carry the Rabies certification with you. You may be required to show the Rabies certificate to enter Canada with your pet. Check with your veterinarian prior to your trip to make sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations. We at OPVMC can provide a Rabies vaccine for your pet during a scheduled appointment, seven days a week,or as an emergency, should your trip be unexpected and your pet due for vaccination. Call our office for an appointment or if you need to come in as an emergency.
While traveling by car or motorhome, remember to stop frequently (every hour or two) to allow your pet bathroom and water breaks so they are more comfortable during travel. During periods of hot weather or extreme cold, pets should not be left unattended in vehicles.
Domestic Air Travel: For flights within the United States, check with the airline to book the most direct flights, with the least amount of layovers and change of planes, for both you and your pet. Be aware that most airlines insist that pets ride in the baggage compartment which can mean they will be subject to the unheated compartment in winter, and hot baggage compartment in summer. Choose flights in the evening and at night in summer for cooler temperatures,and during the day on more temperate days, temperatures above freezing in winter. Make sure your pet has a safe and adequate environment for air travel. This includes a crate that can withstand the baggage compartment, baggage mover belt and transport to the plane and keep your pet safe.
Crates: To keep your pet safe throughout the travel experience, whether in your car, motorhome or on the airliner, it is important to select a airline pet carrier/crate that can service yours and your pet's needs and keep your pet safe. The investment in a safe travel crate is a wise expenditure. Each airline may have further recommendations that should also be followed for a crate. These may include selecting a crate or carrier that:
-Is large enough to allow the pet to stand up fully without touching the top of the crate, then turn around, and lie down.
- Has a smooth interior that is strong and free of interior protrusions from knobs, handles or grips.
-Has a bottom surface that is leak proof and covered with an absorbent material in case of urine, feces or other bodily fluids are produced during transport.
- Has labels with your contact information and the contact information at the destination country.
-Has a sign or label indicating that the crate has a "LIVE ANIMAL" inside and and an arrow showing which way is the upright position for the crate.
-Has sufficient ventilation so as not to overheat the pet during travel.
It is also recommended to purchase the crate well in advance of travel in order to acclimate the pet with its new surroundings. Most pet injuries and fatalities happen from use of improper crates or with pets that escape during the flight. Please adhere to the airline crate recommendations to secure crate doors properly.
Small Pets: Some airlines will allow pets 10 pounds or under to travel in the cabin stowed under your seat in an appropriate sized pet carrier. Again, please contact the airline in advance in order to make the appropriate reservations and confirm what paperwork the airline requires for pet travel.
Before the flight:
Most airlines require a physical examination and the issuance of a health certificate by the veterinarian indicating that the pet is well enough for travel. In addition, each airline may have specific requirement for the health certificate to also indicate the temperatures the pet can withstand and the time frames prior to the flight when the health certificate can be issued. Be sure to check with the airline for specific health certificate requirements and to receive theri specific form for your veterinarian to fill outif required.
Sedation is not recommended for pets traveling on airplanes that are not attended. Pets that are sedated are not able to navigate sudden movements of the crate and can slip and hurt themselves. A sedated pet is not as able to withstand increased altitudes, changes in cabin pressures and temperature extremes that can cause respiratory and cardiovascular compromise and which can lead to death.
If possible offer the pet a light meal approximately six hours prior to travel so it will have time to digest and not leave the pet nauseous for travel. Give the pet ample time to eliminate prior to crating at the airport. The airport staff will not feed or water the pet while in transit. Ensure all toys and clothing in crate cannot be ingested and choked upon during travel.