Traveling with your Pet
Veterinarian Reviewed on November 9, 2011 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
For my friends in the US, Thanksgiving is just around the corner, or American Thanksgiving as we Canadians who live on the border like to call it. As an aside we border Canuks like to celebrate twice, once in October and again in November–guess we just like Turkey. One great thing about holidays in going home or visiting relatives and for many people that journey includes the family pet. Here is a survival guide in 2 parts for traveling with your fur kid. This first part deals mostly with car travel, air travel will be next post.
Visit your veterinarian first for a copy of your pet’s medical records incase there is something you may need on the trip. Have a copy of all prescriptions you might need.This would be a good time to get a microchip implanted if your pet does not have one. At least be sure he or she has a collar with identification. If your pet is anxious traveling, ask about what you can use to help him cope. I prefer things like Rescue Remedy, Dog Appeasing Pheromone, L-theanine, ginger, or Lesstress. This is another application for the Anxiety Wrap or Thundershirt. Alternatively you can use a prescription tranquillizer or something like Gravol but check with your vet first.
Insure you have a traveling food and water dish and enough food for the journey and while you are there. Consider bringing your pet’s water in a jug as you can not be sure of safe water and water changes can cause diarrhea or stomach upsets. Make sure you have a way to secure your pet in the car–either a cage or kennel that can be secured or a pet seat belt. These pet seat belts are great and have saved lives.
Make sure your pet is familiar with the car and traveling. Go on practice runs and mini trips to get him used to it. Groom your dog or cat ahead of time so the shedding will be less, as dogs and cats shed more when they are nervous. This will make a cleaner car for all.
On travel day feed lightly to reduce chances of vomiting and stress diarrhea. Make frequent stops to allow your pet to eliminate. He or she may have to go more frequently due to the stress of travel. No heads out the window for dogs! This can be a distraction for other drivers and your pet can be injured by any flying debris.
If your trip requires overnight stays check for pet friendly accomodations. The AAA publishes a book that lists hotels that welcome pets. Don’t forget your pet’s favourite blanket or toy as he or she may need comforting on the journey and at your destination.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan