By Yahaira Cespedes
If your life includes pets, then you know that making travel plans (whether for business or pleasure) includes deciding whether to take them with you or leave them in the care of a sitter or boarding facility. Like many pet owners, you’d like to take your pet with you but don’t know to prepare for pet-friendly travel. Here is a checklist of tips to run through before traveling with your pet.
No matter how you choose travel, it is vital to outfit your pets with proper identification prior to setting out. After all, if you should become separated from your pet, their identification is the surest way they’ll find their way back to you. In addition to fitting your pets with I.D. tags, your veterinarian may recommend fitting them with a microchip, which is inserted under your pet’s skin and stores contact information that can be accessed using a scanner. Regardless of how you choose to equip your pet with identification, it is important that you regularly check the I.D. tags or microchip registries to ensure they have your most current contact information. You can see if your pet’s microchip is registered at http://www.petmicrochiplookup.org/ or with the chip’s manufacturer.
How your pet is secured will sometimes depend on your mode of transportation (car, bus, boat, train, plane). Generally speaking, it is best to invest in a hard plastic carrier which is more versatile and the safest way to travel with your pet.
Initially, the idea of calming your frightened pet with medication prior to transporting them may seem like a bit much. But if your pet experiences extreme anxiety in an unfamiliar setting (such as in the case with some older pets) giving them a sedative could save them from trauma, not to mention a fear-induced potty accident. Visit a veterinarian to learn which sedatives may be best for your pet and to obtain a prescription. For the sedative prescription though, a physical exam is also recommended.
This kit should include a copy of your pet’s current medical records as well as a simple first aid kit, which consists of things like gauze, bandages, scissors, sterile saline, thermometer and medications your pet is currently taking (e.g., flea and tick preventatives, pain relievers or antibiotics). If possible, research veterinarians and/or emergency hospitals which are located at your travel destination(s) before going on your trip – and include the relevant contact information in your pet travel kit – so that you don’t have to scramble to find one during a medical emergency.
Unexpected turns and delays are a part of traveling, so when your plans include your pets, it’s best to bring along extra food for them. A travel delay (or getting lost en route to your destination) could result in your pet waiting an undetermined amount of time for food or clean water. Be prepared ahead of time.