You may have horror stories of the family dog escaping the backseat at the rest stop, the cat crawling under the gas pedal, or maybe you forgot that ultra-important health certificate before arriving at the airport. Whatever your story may be, traveling unprepared with our canines and felines (or maybe your reptiles if you like those) can be traumatic, so set the tone of your next summer trip right, by following these 10 easy tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association.
1. Pet-friendly, USA. Make sure your pet is welcome at your final destination, as well as at any stops you make on your journey. That way you will have peace of mind that your pet will be allowed indoors.
2. Get a health certificate. If you plan to cross state lines as you travel, you should get a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection from your veterinarian within 10 days of leaving for vacation. This is a quick health checkup to ensure your pet is fit for travel and has all the vaccines he/she needs to stay healthy during your journey.
3. Know how to find a vet in case of an emergency. If something should happen to your pet en route or at your destination, it is important to be able to find a veterinarian quickly. A great resource is the AVMA’s MyVeterinarian.com, where you can search Vets by zip code or city/state.
4. Hi, my name is Fido! Make sure your pet has an accurate ID tag with name, address, and phone number, in case he/she gets lost. If you want a more permanent solution, microchips are a good option, but remember to keep your registration information updated.
5. Fasten your seatbelts! Remember to properly restrain your pet with a harness or in a carrier. These should be appropriately sized so your pet is able to lie down, stand up, and turn around, but not too big so he/she doesn’t get thrown around in case of sudden stops or a collision. Keep your pet inside the windows, and out of your laps to ensure your pet -- and your human passengers – are safe!
6. Break in the harness or carrier. Highway travel can be stressful for your pet, especially if you spring a new harness or carrier on them right as you hit the road. Make sure your pet is used to the restraint you plan to use on your trip, so they feel safe and comfortable.
7. Make pit stops. With dogs especially, stops are a must so they can stretch their legs, do their business, and mentally exercise by checking out their surroundings.
8. Eat and drink up. Offer your pet water whenever you stop, and try to keep your pet’s feeding schedule close to normal. Take plenty of food and water for your trip, and you’ll have a happy pet!
9. Keep a pet photo close by. It’s a good idea to have a recent picture in your wallet or on your phone, so if your pet gets lost, you can easily use the picture to help find them.
10. Remember your pet meds. Don’t forget to bring your pet’s medications with you, including preventatives that your pet may need during your travels.
Visit www.avma.org for more tips and information on keeping your pet happy and healthy.