Whether it’s a plane ride or a road trip, for many, the holidays involve some traveling and sometimes that means taking pets along for the adventure.
Magda Szajcz, a veterinarian at the Cadboro Bay Vet Clinic, recommends people plan for a pet’s trip the way they plan for their own. She suggests making a checklist well in advance.
Depending on the travel destination, pets may need vaccines, medications or a health certificate, Szajcz explained. When crossing international borders, pets need a vet check-up to ensure they meet the country’s requirements – each country’s requirements are unique and change frequently.
Szajcz encourages pet owners to contact their vet to ask questions and find out about the potential health risks in their vacation destination – heartworm and ticks are just some of the risks to prepare for. She noted that as with humans, going to a medical professional the day before a trip is a bad idea. Some health checks and vaccines need to be planned several weeks in advance and pets’ prescriptions should also be filled with lead time.
For winter travel, Szajcz emphasized the importance of keeping pets warm, hydrated and comfortable. She recommends bringing a supply of the pet’s favourite food so their diet doesn’t have to change adding more stress. She also pointed out that asking if the travel destination is pet-friendly – even if it’s someone’s home – is important.
Pets should also be in travel crates rather than on laps while on car trips so that they’re safe in case of a crash, Szajcz noted. Practice time with crates before the trip can help the pet adjust. Pet seat belts and barricades are also available for car travel.
When traveling by plane or train, Szajcz said it’s important to call the company to ask about pet regulations and talk to a vet about medications to reduce your pet’s stress during the trip.
Depending on the individual pet, boarding them or getting a house sitter may be a better option than travel to avoid stress, Szajcz said. Her own poodle, Salmon, isn’t a fan of travel.
Ask a vet what it may look like when your pet is stressed and work to read their cues, Szajcz suggested. Not eating, changes in activity, clinginess and constant searching are all signs that pets aren’t comfortable.
Szajcz emphasized that with kennels, there are often still vaccines and health certificates required.
As each pet is unique, Szajcz hopes people contact their vet for specific travel tips. Disease maps and travel tips are available online and doing research can help pet owners know what questions to ask.