Road trip with your furry friend?
By: Dr. Carrie Wright
I remember the first time I took my dogs to the dog beaches in California – I thought being a vet would have prepared me for the unanticipated trials that arose from being with my girls for 24 hours a day in a non local area. But I wasn’t prepared, and now I have some advice for you!
Traveling with your pet can be a terrific experience, but only if you plan ahead. Make sure vaccines are current (and this means young animals should have at least 3 sets ending around 16 weeks of age), and always bring a copy of your vaccination certificate with you. Rabies is a nationwide concern and many state borders require proof of vaccination before allowing access to their state. As well as the certificate, a copy of your pet’s medical records is recommended, especially if they have a history of illness or chronic disease. I think it’s a great idea to locate a veterinarian along the way or at your final destination just in case you need some help. It is helpful to have a permanent ID implant such as a microchip – collars and leashes with ID can easily be removed or lost… It usually costs around $45 and will significantly increase your pet’s chance of recovery. Some companies such as Home Again aid in that recovery (with signs and notifications to the surrounding animal groups/hospitals) or even medical bills if your pet is injured while lost.
Many diseases are geographic, so please check to see if you need preventative medications or additional vaccinations prior to travel (i.e. – Heartworm disease, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis). Fleas and ticks can be a nuisance to both you and your pets, and can cause serious disease as well, so talk to us about prevention treatment options.
If this is your pet’s first trip, you should make sure they are able to travel for long distances. Try a shorter trip and see how it goes. Would sedation have been nice? An anti anxiety medication? Motion sickness drugs? Sedation can be a great option for long trips, but do you want the potential 12 hour effect? Always bring towels for cleaning up those nasty side effects of motion sickness (or puppy pads work well to line your seats). Keep in mind that tired dogs are usually calmer in the car, so make sure your friend gets plenty of exercise prior to loading into the car. And cats, well…you might call us and we can have a chat.
Keep those pets buckled! Or at least contained – no one wants a 70 lb dog climbing over their shoulder while driving down the freeway at 75mph… Kennels, pet barriers, and seatbelts/harnesses have been created to prevent unwanted risks. Again, practice with these PRIOR to your trip.
Be sure to stop for rest breaks! You should ideally stop every 3-4 hours along the road to offer water and a potty break. Stay clear of heavily soiled areas – although vaccines prevent diseases like parvo and distemper, it would be no fun to pick up a gastrointestinal parasite on vacation.
Many motels/hotels accept pets for a small deposit, but be sure to call ahead to make your reservations. When you do have to leave your pet in your room, make sure they are either in a crate or kennel, and stand outside the door to make sure they don’t bark or howl – although pet friendly, there are limitations! And not that you haven’t heard this one before – do not leave your pet in the car –temperatures can rise too quickly with very serious consequences.
Have fun with your pet, and be sure to call us if you have any questions!