By Rhonda Baillargeon, LVT
Summer is finally here, and many families have vacations planned, which include their furry members. The key to a successful vacation with your pet is to plan, plan, plan!
First, think about your pet and his or her personality. Some pets become very anxious when traveling in a vehicle or when their routine is interrupted. These pets will probably not be good candidates for a family vacation. Check out a house sitter or a boarding facility instead.
Next, determine if your pet will be welcome at your destination. There are many pet-friendly motels/hotels/camping areas which can and will accommodate furry family members, so look into those options first. Also, before you leave on vacation, make sure the ID tag and microchip information is up-to-date and all tags are present on the pet’s collar. Keep a current photo of your pet in your purse or wallet in the event your pet takes a side trip.
Be sure your pet is accustomed to traveling and you have all safety equipment needed for the trip. This equipment includes collars, leashes, harnesses for traveling in the car, and a carrier or crate if you do not use a travel harness. Be sure your pet is used to this equipment BEFORE the trip to reduce stress and anxiety DURING the trip. Pack food, bowls, and any medications that your pet requires. Blankets or other familiar bedding help reduce stress and anxiety.
Also, have a copy of your pet’s medical records in the event there is an illness or injury during your travels. Check out veterinary clinics or emergency hospitals in the areas you will be traveling through and keep their contact information available. If you plan to cross state lines, make sure you have a health certificate. Plan the route you are taking to allow for frequent rest stops for exercise and elimination.
Never leave a pet in a car during hot summer weather; the temperature in a car increases 30 degrees every 20 minutes. Also, be sure to restrain or kennel your pet while driving. They are a distraction when we are driving and can be seriously injured in an accident. If they are in your lap when the airbag goes off, they can be seriously injured or killed. Heads and feet should remain in the vehicle to prevent injury from debris, from a fall because they lost their balance, or from an accident. Also, dogs should never travel in the back of pickup trucks. This can lead to their being injured from jumping or falling out, or if tethered, they can become tangled or choked in the restraint device. Even if it is just a short trip, something may come up which will delay your return to the car. If in doubt, leave them home.
If you plan on boating with your pet, be sure to plan ahead as well. Make sure to acclimate your pet to the boat, provide a ramp to help them get into the boat as well as non-slip surfaces for them to stand/walk on. Fit them with a floatation device even if they know how to swim. Apply pet-friendly sunscreen to prevent burns on their sensitive skin.
Be safe and have a happy, healthy summer!