Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Four things you can do to de-stress pet travel

January 2nd is National Pet Travel Safety Day!

Preparation. Most cats hate the carrier and get stressed when they travel - often because the only time they get in the carrier is when they go to the vet! The trick to a stress-free trip in the car for your cat is positive association. With your cat safely it its carrier, take many short, treat-filled trips around the block. If a car ride equals fun and treats, your pet will be less stressed when it's time to take travel seriously. In addition, leaving the carrier out long-term with bedding in it, or feeding your cat in the carrier will help your cat feel less stressed when it comes time to get into the carrier for travel.
For long trips, pack a "cat bag" full of supplies, including food and water, portable bowls, litter box, waste bags, cleaning supplies, a bed or towel, any medications, toys, and a pet first aid kit like this one suggested by the Red Cross.

Feed your pet a couple of hours prior to departure rather than right before. This can prevent them from getting sick while traveling. Take extra food and water and pack it so that it is accessible - you never know when you may get stuck in traffic, miss your connecting flight or otherwise be delayed.
If your trip is over the course of several days, make sure your cat will be welcome everywhere you plan to stop. Many hotels and motels allow pets, but not all. A good resource for trip planning is

Prevent your cat from taking over your travel plans by securing him in a cat carrier.
Restraint. Make sure your pet is properly restrained whenever you travel by car. AAA reports that every year, 30,000 car accidents are caused due to unrestrained pets. The simplest and safest method is a well-ventilated carrier of the appropriate size which is securely fastened inside the car. It is not safe to let your pet sit on your lap or be unrestrained in your vehicle. It seems that the favorite hiding place for a cat in a car is right under the brake pedal. In addition, if you open the door, the cat may leap out and take off running into traffic, instead of waiting for you to pick him up. If you need to stop suddenly while driving, cat that is not in a carrier can become a projectile and could suffer severe injuries.

Remember, when traveling with your cat, never to leave him unattended in a parked car, even with the windows cracked. Even on a mild day, it doesn’t take long for the temperature inside a parked car to become dangerously hot or cold.

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends stopping about every 2-3 hours to allow your pet to stretch her legs, if possible.

Identification. Whenever you travel with your pet, make sure your cat has current identification, ideally a highly visible collar and ID tag in addition to a permanent form of identification such as a microchip, in case the collar becomes separated from your pet.

Talk to your vet. Let your cat’s veterinarian know about your upcoming trip and see what he or she has to say. Since your veterinarian is aware of your cat’s health and behavior, make sure they feel that it’s okay for your pet to travel with you. You don’t want to expose your cat to unnecessary risks, so make sure his shots are current before traveling. If your cat becomes extremely stressed during travel and leaving him at home is not an option, this would also be a good time to discuss whether or not your veterinarian feels it would be appropriate for your cat to receive a mild tranquilizer. Be sure to bring a health certificate and proof of vaccination with you — you may need both when traveling through some states. If you are planning to fly with your pet, make sure to check with your airline for their health certificate requirements. Most airlines want a certificate dated within 10 days of travel, so even if your cat has had her annual checkup, she may need one just before you leave. If you are traveling internationally, especially for travel to islands, there may be medical treatment, quarantine, or testing requirements up to 12 months prior to travel! It is also a good idea to do some homework and locate the name and phone number for an emergency veterinarian at your destination.

 Pet Travel Check List:
  • Properly-sized crate or harness
  • Food
  • Water
  • Toys
  • Bedding
  • Collar 
  • Litter box  
  • Pet first aid kit 
  • Name and phone number of your current vet and a vet in your destination

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