Traveling With or Without your Pet
Will you have the opportunity to sneak away for a vacation in the near future? I hope so! Maybe you have an upcoming business trip or arrangements to see family soon. As a pet owner, the care of your pet is part of your travel planning whether your pet is accompanying you or they will be staying home.
If your pet is traveling with you, some considerations are how anxious your pet may be and if they experience motion sickness. There are several commonly used medications that can help with these problems. Pet owners will want to be mindful of when they give medication for travel anxiety or motion sickness, as it is often best to give it prior to leaving home.
If you are traveling by airplane, you’ll want to consult with the airline regarding their specific travel requirements. Size of your pet will be one consideration. In some circumstances, a health certificate will be needed for travel. A health certificate involves an exam with a veterinarian, typically within a 10 day period prior to travel. Vaccinations in particular the rabies vaccine will need to be up to date. Although your veterinary team will happily help you completing what is required, it is the pet owner’s responsibility to know exactly what is required based on their arrival destination. In the case of international travel or relocation, there are often several criteria to meet under specific time frames, so careful planning is essential.
Perhaps your pet will be staying at home during your travels. Often this is the most practical option. Your first consideration will be who can properly care for your pet’s needs. There are several local boarding facilities that may be able to care for your pet. For some pets, a pet sitter that comes to your home may be a better option. Either way, call early, as both options tend to fill up quickly. Remember to inform your pet’s caretaker of which veterinary hospital the pet should be taken to in case of a medical concern.
If your pet has specific medical needs, such as medications or injections of insulin, you’ll want to make sure the caretaker is well versed in medication administration. Written directions for the caretaker are a must. How to give the medication to the pet should be discussed. For example, if it is left in the pet’s food, we may not know that the pet receives the medication when needed, or that another pet in the home does not inadvertently receive the medication. These can be very important matters depending on the needs of the pet and the medication in question. In the case of insulin injections, I feel we can never be too cautious. Don’t take for granted that someone knows how to properly store, handle, draw up and administer insulin. I recommend this is discussed in person and the pet owner point out on the syringe and make a mark on the syringe as to how many units are to be given so it is clear. There are varieties of types of syringes and insulin and nothing should be assumed.
An important step that I highly recommend even if your pet has no health ailments is to complete a document with your veterinary hospital that indicates who is allowed to consent for medical care in your absence. Your veterinary team can provide this document to you at your request. On such a form, a pet owner will indicate what sorts of treatments are and are not allowed with or without your direct verbal consent. This can allow your pet to receive care in line with your wishes until you can be in contact with the veterinary team directly.
Hopefully, confirming the details of your pet’s care while you are gone with give you peace of mind to fully enjoy your travels!
Hollee Kubik, DVM