It’s a perfect time of year to plan a family vacation! What about your pets though? Traveling can be more complicated when you have to plan for fuzzy companions, whether they are coming on the trip or not. Here’s some tips from SPCA Tampa Bay on traveling with pets.
Is your pet coming with you? Some things to consider
Car Safety – Consider purchasing a seatbelt harness or other restraint for your pet to use in the car. Should you get in an accident the harness will help protect your beloved pet. Dogs should also not be allowed to hang their heads out the window. We know it looks fun but high speeds and road debris can seriously injure your pet if they are struck.
Check The Rules – Does your destination have pet weight limits? Do they require proof of rabies vaccination? Best to double check all the rules before you go. Each state in the US has a State Veterinarian website, that will describe requirements for travel. If you need help finding places to stay, check AirBnB or BringFido.com.
Check Out The Locals – Do a quick map search and see what emergency vets are close to your destination. Having that information handy can save you valuable time in an emergency.
Protect Your Pet And Your Place – Adding pets to new environments, like hotels or rentals, can be unpredictable. Consider bringing a crate, baby gates or a play pen for your pup so you know there is somewhere they can be safely placed if needed. This could help you avoid a costly and invasive exploratory surgery because your pet ate something they shouldn’t in a strange hotel room.
Flying? Call First – Get a representative from your airline to go over everything you should expect on your trip. Can your pet fly with you in the cabin? Do you need a health certificate dated within a certain timeframe of your trip? Are there restrictions on carrier types? All important things you’ll want to know before you’re sitting in the airport. Some states (Hawaii, for instance) have very rigid rabies requirements for pet travel, and you’ll need a local veterinarian to assist with testing and documentation. If you’re traveling internationally, research the US Department of State website, and well as contacting the embassy of the country to which you are traveling.
Is your pet staying home?
Introduction Playdates – If your pup is staying with a boarding facility, see if they offer doggie daycare. Maybe you can drop Fluffy by for a ½ day once or twice before your trip so they get a chance to meet the staff and get to know the facility. Also check with the boarding facility about any health requirements like canine flu shot records or other vaccines.
Get To Know Your Sitter – If you’ve hired a sitter to visit or stay with your pets, have them come over a couple times before you leave. The more quality time your pets can spend with their temporary caretaker before you go, the more comfortable they will be.
Regardless if Fluffy is staying or going, be sure your pet is microchipped and their information is up to date. A new sitter with a new routine can increase the likelihood your pet could slip out of the house. If your pet should get lost in another state or another country when you travel with them, you’d be happy knowing their home information is accurate. If your pet is not microchipped, this service is available at our SPCA Tampa Bay Veterinary Center.
About The Author: Rizal Lopez, DVM, is Chief Veterinary Officer for SPCA Tampa Bay. He and his staff have completed over 8,000 procedures since opening the St. Pete Veterinary Center in late 2016. Dr. Lopez, since joining the organization in 2011, has performed over 20,000 spay/neuter procedures for the community. He held several positions with the organization before taking the lead veterinary role at the center.