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Travel Safety For Pets During The Holiday Season

December 15, 2023

Are you traveling this weekend? You’re not alone. As reported by IPX1031, a significant number of Americans (62%) are also planning to travel in the coming weeks. Among them, 38% will be journeying to a neighboring state, and 12% will be crossing international borders. Many pet owners also bring along their beloved pets on trips each year. It’s estimated that 78% of American pet owners take their animal companions on adventures. A Denver, NC veterinarian shares some useful tips for traveling with pets in this article.

First Things First: Make Sure Your Pet Will Be Comfortable And Safe

Consider your pet’s age, size, health, and personality before booking their travel arrangements. While some of our furry pals—particularly dogs—love adventures, not all pets enjoy traveling. Some pets may be more comfortable at home or in a kennel. 

It is also important to consider the destination and how suitable it is for your pet. Dogs and cats from hot climates may find it difficult to adapt to cold environments, while a snow dog, such as a husky, may find tropical heat and sunshine unbearable.

You should also take into account how far you’re going. It’s probably no huge deal to take Fido along if you’re only going two hours away to Grandma’s. Meeting the family in Hawaii for a destination holiday will take a lot more planning.

Do Some Research On Your Destination

Before traveling, it is important to consider the specific requirements and potential hazards of your chosen destination. Your pet may need additional vaccines or parasite control products.

Talk to your Denver, NCvet to determine if any additional vaccines are necessary for your pet’s safety. In addition to core vaccines, proof of non-core vaccines like Bordetella may also be required. If you plan on staying in a wooded area, vaccinating your dog for Leptospirosis may be beneficial. Similarly, if your travels will take you to a desert region, it may be wise to consider a rattlesnake vaccine, especially if your canine buddy will chase after anything that moves.

Keep Pet’s Records Handyt 

We also recommend that you keep your pet’s records with you at all times, in case you have to provide proof of your pet’s vaccinations and parasite control. You can bring hard copies, or upload digital versions to the cloud or your phone gallery.

Proper Identification: A Must For All Pets

We can’t overstate the importance of this one. Microchipping is always recommended: that tiny chip could save your pet’s life! Check your records in the manufacturer’s database, and make sure that your information is correct. 

You can also get a boost from modern technology. GPS tags can be very useful for tracking your pet’s location. However, make sure you do a lot of research on these products before buying one. These all work a little differently. For instance, some use cell towers, while others work with satellites. Additionally, there are different models and subscription tiers to choose from.

Prepare An Emergency Plan

You’ll need to be prepared for any emergencies that may occur while traveling. Get information on local veterinarians and emergency clinics. It’s also important to find out about potential local dangers, such as poisonous plants or critters. 

Air Travel: Should My Pet Fly The Friendly Skies?

When taking a pet on a plane, safety is the most important consideration. If possible, travel with your furry buddy in the cabin. You may have to purchase another seat, and you’ll of course need to consider the size and weight restrictions first, but it’s well worth it. 

If your four-legged pal does need to be transported in the cargo hold, be aware of potential discomfort and dangers. While pets do travel this way regularly, it’s not necessarily a very pleasant experience for them. The holds are often unheated, so your furry friend could get hot or cold. They also won’t have a place to relieve themselves, which may add to their discomfort. The noise and vibration during the flight can also be frightening for many pets. 

Another issue with cargo holds is that there may be issues with air flow and overall air quality. This is especially concerning for pets with respiratory problems like brachycephalic breeds, such as Pugs or Bulldogs. 

Whenever possible, we recommend booking direct flights. This minimizes the time your pet will spend in cargo and also reduces the chances of their being sent to the wrong location.

Last but not least, thoroughly research the airline’s policies, regulations, and safety records regarding pet transportation before making arrangements.

Pet-Friendly Road Trips

Car travel is usually more comfortable for pets. Furthermore, it grants you greater authority over when and where you make pit stops. 

It’s best to have Fido and Fluffy crated while traveling by car. This will keep your pet secure and minimize any potential distractions. While your canine companion may enjoy poking his cute nose out the window, this can pose serious hazards. Fido could get debris, such as rocks, dust, insects, or even cigarette butts, in his face. Yikes! Plus, in the event of an accident or sudden stop, he would be particularly susceptible to injury.

Not all pets enjoy car rides. Some get scared, and a few even get nauseous. If your furry pal gets anxious or carsick during travel, ask your Denver, NC veterinarian about medications or pet-calming products that may help.

Traveling With Pets: Choosing A Carrier

As mentioned above, dogs and cats should always travel crated. Make sure that the carrier you choose is sturdy and secure. You’ll need to put some form of identification on it. You can use mailing labels for this. Put clear packing tape over them, to make them waterproof. You can also use luggage tags.

If you’re traveling by plane, bus, or train,  you may need to pass security checkpoints. Bring a leash and collar with you, in case you need to take Fido or Fluffy out of their carrier.

Packing For Your Pet

Don’t forget to prepare a bag for your furry friend. Be sure to include food, treats, water, dishes, bedding, toys, and a pet first-aid kit. Fido will need waste baggies, while Fluffy will require litter and a litterbox. If your dog has a thin coat and you’re going somewhere cold, include a jacket for him as well. If you don’t know how hard it will be to find your pet’s normal food where you’re going, order some in advance and have it shipped to your destination.

Getting Settled

After you get to your destination, let your canine buddy explore when he or she is ready to. Taking Fido for a walk can be a great way to explore a new place. Many of our canine pals love adventures! 

Keep an eye out for signs of stress, and pay attention to your furry friend if they seem uneasy. A small fan can help block out unfamiliar background noises. Some pets get very nervous when they enter a new place. 
Happy Holidays from all of us here at West Shore Animal Hospital, your Denver, NC animal clinic. Please feel free to contact us for all of your pet’s care needs.