If you are planning a trip with your best non-human friend there are a number of actions you can take to make sure that the trip goes well for you and your feathered, furry or scaled pet. There are some caveats to safe travel with your buddy.
Bring enough food to last the vacation or plan to shop for the same brand during your trip so the diet does not suddenly change. A change in food can cause digestive upsets. Bring any medications your pet is on so there is no disruption in the schedule. For your bird, bunny, guinea pig, or reptile, bring the vegetables and hay that they love.
If traveling by car or RV makes sure you have a good enclosure for your pet that is stable if you have to brake hard. You don’t need pets or cages hurdling towards you when the person in front of you comes to a sudden stop. Bring a collapsible water bowl for hikes and a dish to hold water in the car or RV. Have a source of water in the vehicle. A cooler is essential to keep fruits and vegetables fresh.
Never leave your pet in the car if the temperature is over 60F. The car heats up and can kill your pet in 10 minutes. A freezing temperature for more than 10 minutes is also life-threatening.
Some states require that you have proof of Rabies vaccine and a health certificate to cross state lines with an animal in a vehicle. It is up to you to look into these laws and have your pet examined by your veterinarian. Request a signed health certificate from your vet that includes dates of all the vaccinations and travel with it.
If traveling by plane it is safer to not sedate your pet. Sedation is the number one cause of death for pets on airplanes. If your pet panics and you know sedation is needed to consult your veterinarian about the safest one to use. Test the sedative a few days before to make sure it does not over sedate your pet. If over sedation occurs you are present with your pet and can get her to the veterinarian and plan to use a lower dose with your veterinarian. You can try a homeopathic remedy called Rescue Remedy. It is a tincture of bach flower. 1-2 drops on the tongue may be perfect to keep your pet calm without a pharmaceutical sedative.
Air travel with a pet always requires a health certificate. Check out the exact specifications your airline requires for carrier type size and construction. Airlines do not allow snakes in the cabin. Sometimes they allow a small dog or cat under the seat. We once traveled on a flight with a baby kangaroo from a rescue organization!!
If you are traveling internationally find a veterinarian who is USDA /APHIS (Animal Plant Health Inspection Service) accredited for an international health certificate. Some islands such as Hawaii, Australia, and Japan require a Rabies titer instead of Rabies vaccines. A titer is a blood test that measures the number of antibodies to the virus in the pet’s immune system. All countries require microchip identification. Your USDA accredited vet will fill out forms in great detail. Usually, you then need to send these forms to New York offices of APHIS with a fee to have them stamped. Many times this has to be done within 4 to 10 days of your flight. Contact your vet well in advance of the appointment letting her know the country you and your pet are traveling to so she can look up that country’s requirements and forms.
If your pet is not a good traveler and panics it may be better to hire a pet sitter and let him stay at home where he is comfortable. This is the case with elderly pets as well. Sometimes traveling just upsets their equilibrium and they get sick.
It is best to have a veterinarian picked out at your destination in case you need one in an emergency. Your veterinarian may have a colleague they can refer you to. You can also look for certified cat-friendly practices or American Animal Hospital Association accredited practices at your destination.
Your neighborhood vet,