Summer time travel with your pets

This an article from Dr. Bradt on how to travel safely with pets this summer. Enjoy!

Summer Travel With Pets

Summer is a time to get away, enjoy good weather and possibly a change of scene. The question is do you bring your dog cat, bird or snake? Do you bring one, two or the whole menagerie? How do you transport them? Where will they stay? Will they behave? Your pet’s temperament will be a huge factor in the decision. A twelve month old Labrador Retriever may enjoy a camping trip but have trouble with a hotel stay.

Before you go make sure you book at pet friendly hotels. In Salem the Hawthorne Hotel is pet friendly and even provides room service for the pet. Find out if there is a size limitation on dogs and if other types of pets are welcome. Sometimes rentals at the beach or lake allow pets some do not. Find out the requirements before you arrive. If you are planning to visit attractions that don’t allow pets find out if they have pet boarding facilities. Disney World has pet accommodations. Leaving a pet alone in a hotel room for 8 hours is not humane or sensible. Many towns have dog walkers who can attend to your pet while you are touring.

Before you go have your pet microchipped. The chip is implanted with a syringe and it is similar to getting a vaccine for your pet. The chip is the size of a grain of rice. If your pet is lost animal control officers, veterinarians and shelters have scanners and can trace the pet back to you. Your contact information and your pet’s photo and information are kept in a registry that you are prompted to update yearly.

If you are travelling outside the US you will need to have an International Health Certificate signed by a USDA certified veterinarian. Most practices have a vet who is certified. After a physical exam, usually required within 10 days of travel you need to send that certificate and an additional fee to your State veterinarian locally it is the APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) office in Sutton MA for authorization. You can find specific requirements for each country on the International Health Certificate. Some countries such as Japan and Britain may require a 6-month quarantine to prevent rabies virus from entering the country in a pet.

If you are travelling by car there a few common sense procedures you can employ to keep your pet comfortable. Needless to say we have all heard of the Mitt Romney method of transporting his dog. Clearly strapping the carrier to the top of your car with your dog in it is inhumane and should never be done. In these politically pisive times this is something upon which both Democrats and Republicans agree. A dog loose or tied in the back of a pick up is a recipe for disaster. Leaving your pet in the car for more than 10 minutes in 70-degree heat can cause heat stroke.

It is best to have your pet trained to be comfortable in a carrier long before the trip. The carrier should be a part of everyday routine and associated with treats, security and comfort. I did have a client who used to travel to Canada every summer with his cat Freelicks lounging on his dashboard. It sounds like fun but you could lose your cat out the window with one quick turn. Cats are best transported in carriers as well. There are seatbelts for dogs that will keep them on the seats and away from the accelerator and break peddles. Birds snakes and other pets are best kept in their cages for transport.

If travelling by car in the summer months you must plan you stop on route very carefully. A pet left in a car on a 70 degree Fahrenheit day can get heat stroke and die from the heat in 10 minutes. Water should be provided every hour. Rest stops should occur every 2 hours.

You can take your dogs hiking and camping with a bit of planning. My dogs went hiking with me in the White Mountains last fall. My dogs were already conditioned to walk 2-5 miles per day so I picked a route that was not up a tough mountain, equipped the dogs with small dog backpacks so they could carry some equipment and off we went. The dogs had to get used to fitting their side packs between boulders but they quickly figured out that they had an increased width and accommodated. I packed a water purifier so I could purify water from streams for all of us. The dogs had items in their packs that would be OK to get wet incase they went through a stream. The dogs should have a pad to sleep on to prevent hypothermia. When it got cold and rainy they really appreciated the Mylar heat-reflecting sheet I placed over all of us. One caveat is to remember to only put items that are not crucial or ruined by water in the dog packs. My dogs love wading into ponds and wacked their packs on rocks quite a bit. My camping coffee pot was beat up just enough that the lid no longer fit and I could not make that much anticipated morning coffee.

Whatever your summer pleasure, make sure your pets can travel in comfort with you or be pampered by a pet sitter in the comfort of their home. Then you will enjoy your vacation and your family pet may as well.

For more info click the link to read up on APHIS/USDA rules and regulations, every country is different!

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