West Lafayette, Indiana - If you're planning to take your pet along on a family vacation this summer, there are several steps you should take to get your cat or dog ready to travel.
To minimize stress, pets should be kept on the same schedule, says Lorraine Corriveau, wellness veterinarian and small animal community practice specialist at Purdue's College of Veterinary Medicine.
"You also should bring medical and vaccination records, research pet friendly hotels and parks, bring food and water that the pet is used to, and a collar with an ID and temporary ID tag with the phone number of your destination and your cell phone number," she says.
Here are a few other tips from Corriveau to consider when traveling with a pet:
- Consider having your pet microchipped as a means of permanent identification.
- Bring an extra leash, preferably a slip-loop leash.
- A federally accredited veterinarian needs to fill out a health certificate within 10 days of travel by air.
- If traveling by plane, and you plan to have your pet travel under your seat, make sure you have the appropriate carrier for the airlines under the seat policy.
- When your pet travels in a plane in cargo, purchase a USDA-approved shipping crate. The crate should be large enough for your pet to stand, sit and turn around in comfortably, and lined with some type of bedding to absorb accidents.
- Make sure the crate has proper identification. Mark it with the words "Live Animal," as well as with your name, cell phone and destination phone number and a photo of your pet.
- When traveling in a car, pets should be in a crate, or a pet car seat and harness, to ensure their safety as well as your own while driving.
- Make frequent stops to allow your pet to exercise, relieve itself and drink water.
- Prepare your pet for a long trip by taking him or her on a series of short drives.
- Your pet's travel-feeding schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours prior to departure.
- Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can quickly become a furnace, and heatstroke can develop.
- For pets, particularly cats, who have difficulty getting into a carrier, try getting the carrier out a few days before departure. Feed and put the food bowl of your cat in the carrier at home so that it's not just used for transportation If your cat loves catnip, place some in the carrier to make it more appealing. Sometimes it is best to put the carrier on its end, with the opening at the top, and put the cat in bottom first.
- Some pets may react to being in a carrier by vocalizing excessively, drooling and salivating, vomiting and relieving themselves. If your pet displays these behaviors, a sedative may be needed. You should seek the advice of your veterinarian about whether your pet needs a sedative, and which sedative is appropriate.