Ensure your next trip is fun – and safe – When traveling with your pets, planning is key. Plan ahead… well ahead.
If you’re traveling by car with your pet:
- If you know you will be staying overnight somewhere, be sure to have reservations at a place that welcomes pets. A handy list of “Pet Friendly” motels/hotels can be found if you do a little searching. And don’t forget to bring along some disposable “Scoop n Toss Bags”; you must be socially conscious about where your dog chooses to relieve itself. Be prepared!
- Make your timetable consistent with occasional stops along a side road where your leashed dog can find relief. Many veterinarians do not think the Rest Stations along the Interstates are a particularly sanitary area for your dog. And be sure to have some “Pooper Pick-Ups” with you so that in the event of an unexpected deposit in a public area, you can perform the courteous cleanup immediately.
- It wouldn’t hurt to pamper your pal… bring along your pet’s own food and water from home.
- Not that you’re fussy, right? And a few old towels or rags will make good cleanup devices if your pet happens to discover a mud puddle or contacts something nasty like spilled ice cream sundaes!
- Emergency first aid kits are very handy for you and your pet if a sudden cut, sliver or rash intrudes upon your day. Anti-itch medication, bandages, and antibiotic ointments may save the day when you least expect something will go wrong. It would be a good idea to have your veterinarian give you a copy of the dog’s medical history to take with you just in case a visit to a veterinarian along the way becomes necessary.
- Bring a spare leash and collar with ID tag that contains your cell phone number. Make sure your pet is not only microchipped, but sports a visible ID tag.
- Overheating (heat prostration) can kill an animal. Never leave an animal alone in a vehicle, since even with the windows open, a parked car, truck or van can quickly become a furnace. Parking in shade offers little protection, as the sun shifts during the day. When traveling, carry a gallon thermos filled with fresh, cold water
Flying the friendly skies? – There are special considerations. Every airline has its own rules. Be sure to have a clear understanding of the one on which you are traveling.
- Just like assuming a hotel is pet-friendly, it can be a bad idea not to arrange for your pet to fly when you book your own tickets. The biggest hurdle you may encounter is a booked cargo area, and you’ll either have to spend extra money to rearrange your flight schedule or choose to leave your pet behind.
- You can try bringing your pet into the cabin with you, but some restrictions apply. Most airlines that allow pets in the passenger cabin require the pet carrier be small enough to be stowed under the seat in front of you. This doesn’t mean you can cram your pet into any small carrier; airlines dictate your pet must be able to stand up and turn around inside.
- Booking your pet’s flight when you book your own can also help you avoid sticker shock at the ticket counter. Expect to pay almost as much for your pet’s ticket as you paid for your own and expect to pay even more to stow your pet.
- If you can stomach leaving your companion in the company of strangers for a few hours, you may also want to check into pets-only flights, such as the ones offered on PetAirways. Putting your dog or cat on one of these flights might save you some money and, best of all; pets fly in the cabin rather than in the cargo area of the plane.
- Also, be aware that airlines will not carry pets as cargo if the temperature is too hot or too cold.
- Just about every airline in the world requires documentation from a veterinarian that your pet is in good health before it can board a flight. The vet will also make sure your pet’s rabies vaccinations and other shots are up to date. You may also get flea and heartworm treatments out of the visit, if your pet isn’t already on such medications. If your pet passes muster, the veterinarian will give you a signed document that attests to your pet’s health and vaccinations. Keep this document in a safe place, and be sure not to forget it at home — it’s as bad as leaving your plane ticket behind.
Don’t visit the vet too early, however. Most airlines require that your pet’s clean bill of health be no more than 10 days old.
- As anxious as you might get while traveling, pets are sometimes more so, especially when flying. Being placed in a crate and stowed with a lot of other equally anxious animals makes traveling rough for your pet. To help make the ride a little smoother, you should seek your veterinarian’s advice about tranquilizers or sedatives. Your vet will be able to guide you with which is best for your pet.
- Security has been beefed up tremendously since 9/11, which has, in turn, created longer check-in delays. As a result, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) suggests you arrive no less than two hours before your flight. While you spend some time waiting around the airport, be sure to prepare your pet for the flight ahead.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture mandates that pets traveling on airlines must be fed and watered within four hours of the flight’s scheduled departure. You’ll be asked to sign a waiver that certifies your pet has been given food and water when you check in for your flight.
Make sure that you don’t stuff your pet with food or give it too much water, however. A pet with a full belly aboard an airline flight may vomit from anxiety or travel sickness. Too much food or water can also lead to accidents inside the crate; not a pleasant way to fly. You’ll also want to make sure your pet’s food and water bowls are empty and locked inside the carrier, with a bag of food attached to the outside of the carrier. This will prevent spills and will give airline employees a chance to feed or water your pet, if necessary, during a long delay or layover.
Give your pet a little water about two hours before the flight is scheduled to depart, and don’t be afraid to ask an airport employee if the airport has a special area reserved for pets’ dirty, dirty business.
Taking all of these tips into account can make travel much easier for you and your pet. After all, it’s your pet’s vacation too.
You and your family aren’t the only things more active in the warm summer months. Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes are also on the go. All of these pests are looking for one thing – a blood meal; and what better source than an unprotected pet. Not only are the bites from these pests uncomfortable and annoying, they can be a serious health hazard.
Mosquitoes – Heartworm disease:
Heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis) are parasites transmitted by mosquitoes that can potentially be fatal to your dog or cat. Have your dog or cat tested for the presence of heartworms by your veterinarian, and ask about heartworm preventatives. Treatment for this disease can be expensive and risky for your pet. Prevention is easy and inexpensive. Just because your dog only goes outside to urinate and defecate, and just because your cat does not go outside at all, does not eliminate the risk of disease. Mosquitoes are everywhere!
Normally only adult fleas live on pets, and often they remain there only long enough to feed. Eggs may be laid on the pet, but usually fall off the pet into the environment where conditions are right for them to develop into adult fleas. As a result, it is possible to have a substantial flea problem although you have only identified a few or no fleas on your pet. Egg and larval stages can survive in your home all year and in your yard from spring through late fall (all year in warmer climates). Biting and scratching on the lower back, tail, and abdomen are the most common signs of flea infestation and a dermatitis will often flare up in these areas. Flea control involves treatment of the pet and the environment by means of shampoos, sprays, dips, “spot-ons,” powders, oral medications, and collars. Fleas can carry tapeworm egg packets, so be sure to have your veterinarian check your pet for these intestinal parasites as well.
Yet another parasite that is a common problem during the warmer months. Ticks are not only an irritant and nuisance to your pet, but may transmit several debilitating diseases, such as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and ehrlichiosis. Many flea prevention/treatment products will also help with control of ticks. Owners whose dogs have substantial exposure to ticks (eg, sporting dogs, dogs that go camping, and those spending time in forest preserves or woods) should also ask their veterinarian’s advice about the best choice for flea and tick prevention, and the importance of vaccinating for Lyme disease.
Increasing your pet’s activity level is a good thing, but do it safely. If your pet is overweight, it is important to exercise your pet only a little a day at the start to avoid injury.
The type and amount of exercise needed can differ greatly with breed, age and energy level. It is important to choose the right type of exercise for your pet with the help of your veterinarian. Low energy dogs like Bulldogs or dogs over seven years of age only need about 30 minutes of exercise a day, and this is usually in the form of slow, short walks or swimming. Medium-energy dogs, like German shepherds or Maltese terriers, need about 2 hours of exercise a day in the form of medium-paced walks or agility. High-energy dogs like Border collies or Dalmatians need about three hours of exercise a day.
Cats too need daily exercise. Setting aside 15-20 minutes a day will help keep your cat happy and healthy. Cats are nocturnal animals which means they are at their most active at night. Training them to exercise during the day will help you and your cat sleep at night. Cats enjoy exercise like stalking, pouncing, climbing and hiding that allows them to mimic the behavior of their wild counterparts.
It’s always important to exercise safely with your pet. Here are some important tips:
- Check with your veterinarian to choose which exercise is right for your pet
- Fair skin pets need sunscreen.
- Protect your pet’s feet – if it’s too hot for your bare feet, it’s too hot for your pet. Pet booties are a great idea for road and off-road activities.
- Always keep your dog on a leash unless in an enclosed supervised area such as dog day care
- Check the path you walk your pet to ensure there are no hazards
- Know exactly where your pet is at all times
- Do not exercise when the weather is too hot
- Bring water and a travel bowl for your pet
When pets don’t get enough exercise, they can become obese. This is one of the most common diseases in dogs and cats. Pets that are overweight can also become sick from other diseases.
How you and your pet can keep your cool during the heat!
- Overheating (heat prostration) can kill an animal. Never leave an animal alone in a vehicle, since even with the windows open, a parked car, truck or van can quickly become a furnace. Parking in shade offers little protection, as the sun shifts during the day. When traveling, carry a gallon thermos filled with fresh, cold water.
- Don’t force your animal to exercise after a meal in hot, humid weather. Always exercise him or her in the cool of the early morning or evening. Exercise is important, but overexertion during hot weather commonly causes heat stress. Avoid excessive exercise during hot days.
- In extremely hot weather, don’t leave your dog standing on the street, and keep walks to a minimum. He is much closer to the hot asphalt and his body can heat up quickly. His paws can burn since they are not protected by shoes.
- Never take an animal to the beach unless you can provide a shaded spot and plenty of fresh water for her to drink. Rinse her off after she has been in salt water.
- Always provide plenty of shade for an animal staying outside the house. A properly constructed dog house serves best. Never leave your dog tied in a place where it can’t find shade or access to water. This seems very commonsense, but sometimes dogs left on chains or leads may wind themselves around a tree and cut off their access to water.
- Bring your dog, cat, or rabbit inside during the heat of the day and let her rest in a cool part of your house. Always provide plenty of cool, clean water for your animal.
- Please be sensitive to old and overweight animals in hot weather. Brachycephalic (snub-nosed) dogs (especially bulldogs, Pekingese, Boston terriers, Lhasa apsos and shih tzus) and those with heart or lung diseases should be kept indoors in air-conditioning as much as possible.
- A clean coat can help to prevent summer skin problems, so keep your dog or cat well groomed. If he has a heavy coat, shaving your dog’s hair to a 1-inch length will help prevent overheating. Don’t shave a dog’s hair down to the skin; this robs him of protection from the sun. A cat should be brushed frequently to keep his coat tangle-free.
- Never tie an animal outside on a correction collar. He can choke to death. If you must tether him, use a buckle collar with identification tags instead. (This applies in any season.)
- Be sure there are no open, unscreened windows or doors through which your animal can fall or jump.
- Freeze a water bottle and keep it in the hutch with your rabbit.
Know the Warning Signs
According to Dr. Lila Miller, ASPCA Vice President of Veterinary Outreach, “symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.”