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Travel Safety For Pets During The Holiday Season

December 15 2023

Are you traveling this weekend? You’re certainly  not alone. As reported by IPX1031, a significant number of Americans (62%) are also planning to travel this month. About 38% will be journeying to a neighboring state, and 12% will be crossing international borders. Many pet owners also bring along their beloved pets on trips each year: it’s estimated that 78% of American pet owners take their animal companions on adventures. A local Fox Lake, IL vet shares some useful tips for traveling with pets:

Is Travel Right For Your Pet? 

Consider your pet’s age, size, health, personality, and response to travel before booking their travel arrangements. Not all pets enjoy traveling, so make sure it’s the right choice for them. 

It’s also important to consider the destination and whether it is suitable for your pet. Some pets may be more comfortable at home or in a kennel. Pets from hot climates may find it difficult to adapt to cold environments, while snow dogs may find tropical heat and sunshine unbearable.

You should also take into account how far you’re going. Sure, go ahead and take your dog along if you’re only going two hours to Grandma’s. But if you’re meeting the family in Hawaii for a destination holiday, bringing Fido is going to take some planning.

Thoroughly Research Your Destination

Before traveling, consider the potential hazards of your chosen destination. Your pet may need additional vaccines or parasite control.

If you plan on staying in a wooded area, vaccinating your dog for Leptospirosis may be beneficial. Similarly, if your travels take you to a desert region, it may be wise to consider a rattlesnake vaccine, especially if you have a dog that loves chasing after anything that moves. 

We recommend researching and consulting with your Fox Lake, IL veterinarian to determine if any additional vaccines are necessary for your pet’s safety. In addition to core vaccines, proof of non-core vaccines like Bordetella may also be required. 

Make Sure Your Pet Has Proper Identification

We can’t overstate the importance of proper ID tags. Microchipping is also recommended. Check your records before leaving to ensure your contact details are accurate in the chipmaker’s database. Having outdated or incorrect information on the chip won’t help.

You can also get a boost here using modern technology. GPS tags can be very useful for tracking your pet’s location. However, make sure you do a lot of research first. Some of these devices use cell towers, while others work with satellites. Additionally, there are different models and subscription tiers to choose from.

Flying WIth Furry Friends: Should My Pet Fly The Friendly Skies?

When taking a pet on a plane, safety is the most important consideration. If possible, travel with your pet in the cabin with you. You may have to purchase another seat, but it’s well worth it. Check the size and weight restrictions first.

If your pet needs to be transported in the cargo hold, be aware of potential discomfort and dangers. While pets do travel this way regularly, it is not a pleasant experience for them. The holds are often unheated, which can mean extreme temperatures for your furry friend. They will also not have access to a place to relieve themselves, which will add to their discomfort. The noise and vibration during the flight can also be frightening for many pets. Furthermore, there may be issues with air flow and overall air quality. This is especially concerning for pets with respiratory problems like brachycephalic breeds. It is important to thoroughly research the airline’s policies, regulations, and safety records regarding pet transportation before making arrangements.

Whenever possible, we recommend booking direct flights. This minimizes the time your pet will spend in cargo and also reduces the chances of their being sent to the wrong location.

Pet-Friendly Road Trips

Driving is typically more comfortable for pets. Furthermore, it grants you greater authority over when and where you make pit stops. (Tip: use an app to find spots to check out with your furry buddy.)

It’s best to have Fido and Fluffy crated while traveling by car, to keep your pet secure and minimize any potential distractions. While your canine companion may enjoy poking his cute nose out the window, this can pose serious hazards. Your pooch could get debris, such as rocks, dust, insects, or even cigarette butts in his face! Plus, in the event of an accident or sudden stop, he would be particularly susceptible to injury. Remember to add comfy bedding and toys to the crate to make it more welcoming for your adorable passenger.

Not all pets enjoy car rides. If your furry pal gets anxious or carsick during travel, ask your veterinarian about medications or pet-calming products that may help.

Prepare An Emergency Plan

Be prepared for any emergencies that may occur while traveling. Make a list of the local veterinarians and emergency clinics and take appropriate precautions in case of potential dangers. It’s also good to become familiar with local hazards, such as poisonous plants or critters. We also recommend that you keep your pet’s records with you at all times. It may be necessary to provide proof of your pet’s vaccinations and parasite control. 

Your vet can provide you with more information about keeping copies of these records. You can also keep your pet’s medical history with you, especially if he or she has any issues.

Traveling With Pets: Choosing A Carrier

Pets should always travel crated. Make sure that the carrier you choose is sturdy and secure. You’ll need to include some form of identification. You can use mailing labels for this. Put clear packing tape over them to make them waterproof. You can also use luggage tags.

If you’re traveling by plane, bus, or train,  you may need to pass security checkpoints. Bring a leash and collar with you, in case you need to remove your four-legged buddy from their carrier.

Packing For Your Pet

You’ll need to prepare a travel bag for your furry friend. Be sure to include food, water, dishes, bedding, toys, and a pet first-aid kit. Fido will need waste baggies, while Fluffy will require litter and a litterbox. If you are uncertain of the availability of your pet’s food at the destination, order some in advance and have it shipped there. If you’re driving,  you may want to bring water from home as well, especially if your pet has a sensitive stomach.

Getting Settled In

After you get to your destination, let your pet explore when he or she is ready. Taking Fido for a walk can be a great way to explore a new place. Many of our canine pals love going on adventures with their humans! However, some pets get very nervous when they enter a new place. Keep an eye out for signs of stress, and pay extra attention to your furry friend if they seem uneasy. A small fan can help block out unfamiliar background noises.

Conclusion: Traveling with pets can be fun, but only if the pet is safe and comfortable. Think carefully before planning a vacation with your furry pal, and ask your Fox Lake, IL  vet for recommendations. 

Happy Holidays, and safe travels! Whenever you have questions or concerns about your pet’s health or care, please contact us at your Fox Lake, IL animal clinic.