Your Pet's Health

Vacationing with Pets

Preparation is Key for Letting Good Times Roll

Cool white sand with your footprints in it beckons every year in a reoccurring summer vacation visit.  Actually your dream includes three sets of prints:  yours and those of your best friend, Dreyfus.

If you plan on taking Dreyfus, you’ll need to make sure he is given a good bill of health by the veterinarian and is packed to travel.  Taking pets on vacation requires a good bit of planning.  But the extra effort never outweighs the fun, according to Petland.

Pet birds, cats, dogs, and other small animals can enjoy family getaways as much as anyone else if behavioral, environmental, and nutritional, and maintenance needs are met.  Petland recommends vacationers take along an ample supply of their pet’s regular food, treats, water from home, favorite toys, exercisers including tie-out stakes, roosting perches and runabout wheels, traveling crate or cage, litter, collar, leads of varying lengths, comb, brush, shampoos, nail clippers, vitamins or mineral licks, prescribed medications, litter box or pooper-scooper.  Environmental needs are more difficult to meet while traveling, but if your pet has a favorite blanket or pillow on which it sleeps, then be sure to throw it in.

Preparations for taking a pet on vacation will vary slightly depending on the mode of transportation – airplane, automobile, boat, or train.  However, all modes require pets to be confined in well-ventilated, pet-approved traveling crates: one in which a pet can stand up and turn around. Strapping the crate to the back seat of the car with a seat belt will keep the pet in place and safe during sudden stops.

Airlines sometimes allow small pets, no more than eight weeks old, to ride in crates under their owners’ seats in the plane’s cabin.  However, larger pets usually must ride in the planes cargo section.  Pet owners need to call ahead to find out which airlines allow pets in the cabin and what shipping regulations there are.  Generally, pet crates must be appropriately tagged, and most airlines require a veterinarian-approved health certificate.

Once you find a suitable airline, you’ll need to make a reservation for you and your pet.  Cabin space for pets is hard to come by when airlines only allow a couple of dogs per flight.

Experimentation with travel should not be done at the expense of any pet’s health or well-being.  Therefore, Petland asks pet owners to heed the following information before engaging in a vacation with a pet:

  • Trial run: Your pet may be a wonderful traveler, but just as likely motion may make your pet ill.  You should try taking your pet on a few short practice trips in the car to see how he responds.  Your veterinarian may want to prescribe some medication to help your pet with motion sickness.  If sickness is severe, you may decide it best to keep your pet at home while you vacation.
  • No vacancy for pets: You may be surprised to find that not all hotels and motels love your pet the way you do.  Some welcome pets, but it is up to you to secure reservations at these facilities before you leave home.
  • Drinking water: Pets, like people, often have intestinal problems when adapting to drinking water different from the home tap.  To help pets make the transition, you should bring a couple of gallons of water from home.  Then on the trip you can gradually add small amounts of the “new” water to the water from home.
  • Right on time: Keeping to your pet’s regular feeding, exercise, and sleeping schedule while on vacation will make the trip less stressful for your pet.  Fresh water should be offered at all times, and breaks for elimination should be frequent.
  • Proper identification: Occasionally a pet will get lost on vacation.  Without the proper identification you stand no chance of your pet’s return.  At the very minimum, collar tags should bear your pet’s name, your address, and telephone number.
  • Veterinarian on call: Plan for the worst and have a veterinarian on call at your intended vacation destination.  This is especially important with birds and small pets that may require specialized veterinary care.  If your trip is extremely long, then you may want to have several veterinarians on call at points along the way.