Traveling with your best furry friends
By Dr. Elizabeth Knabe, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
Pets are a part of our families, so it makes sense that many owners take their pets with them on vacations. Many dogs enjoy exploring new places with their owners, and some cats can adapt well to visits to vacation homes. What can make a big difference is the planning, which can help avoid problems.
Dogs and cats are creatures of routines and will do best if you can continue similar wake-up times, bed times, meal times, and potty routines while they are on vacation. You cannot mimic your home routines exactly, but you can do your best. If a pet likes to sleep in a crate or dog bed, try to bring it along so they can use it. The crate is also often the safest place for your pet if traveling by car. That way the pet cannot dart out of the car during rest stops.
Make sure your pet is up to date on recommended vaccinations, and bring a copy of the vaccine records with you. If your pet is microchipped, make sure you have updated phone contacts so that you are reachable. For dogs you might attach a temporary tag listing your local phone number.
It is also good to locate veterinary emergency services so that you do not waste precious time looking for a number when you need one. Another thing to bring is a pet first aid kit to handle basic care. Bring a muzzle or some material to make into a muzzle as that can make all the difference in moving an injured dog that is in pain.
What if your pet does not enjoy travel but must accompany you because you are moving? There are some nondrug options to consider such as pheromones, which are scent chemicals that can have calming effects on pets. These can also help in the trip preparation phase when you are packing and getting out suitcases, etc. Music for pets is another option as studies have shown the calming effects some types of music has for them. Some pets are helped by close-fitting jackets that provide steady pressure, which calms the nervous system.
One last topic to discuss is that of drug therapy for travel anxiety. There is no one medication that works the same for every pet, so this is a question for you and your veterinarian to discuss. Do it before the trip so there is time to try out a drug to see what effect it has on your pet.
Start planning your trip, and remember to make plans for your pet too.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.