By Dr. Sarah Nold
As roads become more congested and airports more crowded, holiday travel is officially upon us.
With that in mind, Trupanion – a leader in medical insurance for pets – is sharing 7 expert tips from staff veterinarian Dr. Sarah Nold on how to best travel with your furry friend so everyone enjoys a safe and happy holiday.
1. If possible bring enough food to last the entire trip, as a change of food can cause stomach upset in some pets. It may help to separate food for each day/meal into separate containers. If your final destination includes a hotel, make sure you understand and are comfortable with their pet policy before booking in advance.
2. Make sure your dog is secure, either in a carrier or a properly fitted harness/collar, before opening your car door to minimize the risk of your dog getting lost. It is usually safest to have your dog confined to a carrier/kennel while in the car.
3. Extra towels are always great to have on hand, among other things they can help protect upholstery in case it’s raining or snowing outside of the car. If your pet has a favorite toy and bed, make sure to bring them along.
4. Traveling by car definitely allows for more flexibility. For example, if your pet is showing signs of distress you can detour to a veterinarian for evaluation. I recommend bringing a copy of your pet’s medical records, especially if your pet is being treated and/or monitored for a condition by your veterinarian.
5. If your travel involves a plane, call the airline to determine if your dog is approved for riding in the cabin or if they will have to go in cargo. There may be maximum weight and minimum age requirements for traveling, which are usually enforced for the safety of your dog. If your dog is traveling in cargo ask the airline what they allow in the carrier with your dog. Make sure you have a carrier that is the proper size for your dog and durable.
6. Getting your dog used to the carrier should ideally be done over weeks to months, not days to hours. Allow your dog time to stretch their legs before flying. Most airlines require a USDA health certificate issued by a veterinarian for your dog, this usually needs to be issued within 10 days of travel. Don’t feed your dog within two hours of departure, as this can upset their stomach.
7. No matter the mode of travel, have your pet microchipped to help with identification if they should get lost. Also, additional paperwork (and possibly preventive care, such as additional vaccines) may be necessary when traveling to some destinations, especially if a foreign country. Some destinations, such as traveling to Hawaii or Japan, take a very long time to get the proper paperwork processed and you should plan as far in advance as possible.
Dr. Sarah Nold, staff veterinarian at Trupanion.