Travelling with your pet can be fun for both you and your furry friend. However, there are a number of important things to address before you embark. Planning in advance ensures that you and your pet are prepared and will make your trip less stressful along the way and at your destination.
Cooper, our Pet of the Month for November, is a 6.5 year-old Schnauzer mix who has travelled for a number of years with his owners to spend the winters in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Cooper is a friendly, calm dog who enjoys meeting people and is comfortable in different situations. He walks well on a leash and is crate trained, which means he doesn’t get stressed being confined for the flight and he isn’t intimidated by the hustle and noises of an airport. Getting through security can be challenging for people; for our pets it can be scary and upsetting.
Cooper’s owners have also established a great relationship with a veterinarian in Mexico who they know will be available to help should Cooper need attention while he is away from home. Working with the other veterinarian has enabled us to meet all of Cooper’s needs and make certain he is up-to-date on vaccinations, parasite prevention, and is healthy enough for travel.
When planning your travels, it is essential to know if you will be travelling locally (within your state), across state lines, or internationally. Each destination has specific requirements and a number of issues that must be considered. Local travel can be the least complicated; travel abroad necessitates very detailed planning. Seasoned travelers know that being organized goes a long way toward reducing the anxiety of last minute glitches. When travelling, there are always components you can’t control – the weather, traffic, whether the flight is on time or delayed, regulations imposed by the airline, or in the case of international travel, rules determined by the country you are planning to visit.
First and foremost, make sure your pet has the personality, disposition and desire to be a traveler. Have you considered all parts of your planned trip? Are you going for a few days, or a few weeks? Are you moving permanently? All of these factors influence the planning and the actual travel. Most pets prefer a stable routine and, while they want to be with their owner, don’t get the same enjoyment from seeing the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Canyon, the snow in Switzerland or the roadside attractions on a trip across the United States. In addition, you need to give thought to whether your pet will be accompanying you to dinner at a restaurant, what if they aren’t allowed in the museum, or if they can’t be left in the hotel room by themselves. Do you have back up plans? Will you have the same enjoyment on your trip if you are constantly worried about what to do with Fido or Kitty?
Most cats and dogs need time to adjust to being crated, get used to the noises during travel, learn to use their litter box in a different location or eliminate on leash versus in their yard, and to be comfortable enough to eat and drink in a hotel room. Hawthorne Hills Veterinary Hospital can give you guidance to know if your pet will be a good traveler and we can help you prepare your pet for taking a vacation away from home. Our veterinarians are accredited, which allows us to prepare health certificates for both local and international travel, and our entire staff is experienced in navigating the various requirements to smooth the process and make for a memorable trip.
Travel to foreign countries commonly requires advance planning of six months or longer. There are specific sequences to getting your pet microchipped, verifying or updating Rabies vaccinations, potential blood titers, as well as parasite prevention and protection. In addition there are mandatory time frames along with a variety of travel documents and health certificates that need to be signed by the veterinarian and USDA officials before your pet can be admitted to another country. The details can be overwhelming at times and many pet owners aren’t aware that regulations do change, sometimes without warning.
Being organized, knowing where to find the right information, and understanding the process is important; the doctors at Hawthorne Hills Veterinary Hospital are here to help. When planning your next trip please give us a call. And after your trip, we’d love to see your photos of you and your pet enjoying the world!