Pet Talk column: Be prepared to travel with pets
April 7, 2017
Planning ahead and being prepared is the best advice a veterinarian can give for those who will be traveling with pets.
With the vast amount of fees, regulations, time constraints and safety issues, it certainly can be "ruff" adding your pet to your travel plans.
As the ski season approaches the end, pet owners are getting ready for their annual road trips or flights south. As a veterinarian in an international resort community, I have seen first-hand how many pet owners are unaware of the regulations of pet travel, in addition to the health impacts of changing weather, and the impending stress that confinement may bring. I have found the best way to travel with your pet is prepared.
First of all, call the airline or specific carrier
Do they allow pets?
Do you need to pre-book travel or can the pet be booked at the gate?
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Do you need a Certificate of Health inspection from an accredited veterinarian showing proof of rabies vaccination and a current examination within ten days of travel?
What are the restrictions with respect to in cabin travel. For example , what should your pet weigh to be able to ride in the main cabin?
What are the requirements for the carriers, ie soft or hard sided, how many water dishes do they require?
What are the measurements required for the pet carriers for in cabin travel vs below ?
What are the potential lowest and highest temperatures my pet may be exposed to?
What will be the layover time for my pet
May I keep food and water with my pet at all times?
Secondly, if you are traveling across state lines or international borders, then be aware of the specific requirements of your destination. For example, to take your pet to Hawaii, you must begin preparations greater than 120 days in advance. For Canadian travel, only a rabies certificate is required. For European travel, you may even apply for a "pet passport."
It is an excellent idea to have your pet micro-chipped early on as many countries, and the state of Hawaii, do require permanent identification of the pet. In addition, if your pet is ever lost, then it is a great way to get your pet back !
Finally, once you have arrived at your destination, there are things you must consider as well.
Are you traveling to the south where heart worm, fleas and ticks may prevail? There are different species of ticks and certainly different risks associated with heartworm, depending on where you travel, so be sure to ask your veterinarian for prevention medications prior to your trip. In recent months, we have found that many topical anti-tick treatments have not always been effective in the heavily tick infested areas, so be sure to let your veterinarian know exactly where you will be traveling.
Are you traveling where there is an extreme heat or cold difference? Give your pet time to acclimate and bring appropriate covering should your pet be exposed to extreme cold.
Are you traveling to a higher altitude? Just like their owners, pets with underlying heart disease may have trouble with higher elevations, so consult your veterinarian if your pet does suffer from heart disease.
Bring your pet's regular food, as sudden diet changes may result in gastric upsets.
Be sure your pet has water as often as allowed. Dehydration is all too common for the traveling pet!
Finally, have a great trip! Travel safe and prepared!
Sheila Fitzpatrick, DVM, owner of Mountain Mobile Vet and The Animal Hospital Center, submitted this column. You can reach her at 970-328-7085.
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