Vail Pet Talk column: Be prepared for traveling with pets |

Vail Pet Talk column: Be prepared for 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 a veterinarian in the Vail Valley for many years, I have seen firsthand 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 to be prepared and plan ahead.

Carrier Questions

As you begin your travel plans, you should first call the carrier for your pet and ask the following:

• Do they allow pets?

• Do you need to pre-book travel, or can the pet be booked at the gate?

• Do you need a Certificate of Health inspection from an accredited veterinarian showing proof of rabies vaccination and a current examination within 10 days of travel?

• What are the restrictions with respect to in-cabin travel? For example, what is the weight limit for your pet to be able to ride with you in the main cabin?

• What is required for appropriate transport of your pet, i.e., can the carrier be soft or hard sided, how wide or tall must it be and how many water/food bowls are allowed?

• What is the potential for extreme temperature exposure, i.e., the lowest and highest my pet may be exposed to?

• What will be the layover time for my pet, and if the plane is delayed, will someone be taking extra care of my pet?

• May I keep food and water with my pet at all times?

Check Destination Requirements

Second, if you are traveling across state lines or international borders, be aware of the specific requirements of your destination. For example, to take your pet to Hawaii, you must begin preparations three months 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 for easy identification of your pet at the time of travel and if your pet somehow is separated from you.

When you get there …

Finally, once you have arrived at your destination, there are things you must consider, as well:

• Are you traveling to the South, where heartworm, fleas and ticks may prevail? Ask your veterinarian for prevention medications prior to your trip.

• Are you traveling where there is an extreme heat or cold difference? Give your pet time to acclimate and bring appropriate covering for your should they 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 suffers from heart disease or other cardiovascular complications.

• 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.

Travel safe and prepared, and finally, have a great trip!

Sheila Fitzpatrick, DVM, owner of Mountain Mobile Vet and The Animal Hospital Center, submitted this column. You can reach her at 970-328-7085.