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Summer Travel with Pets

Ah summer, we look forward to the warm weather and long weekends and time outdoors...and of course we want to be able to share all of this with our furry family members!  If you are planning to travel this summer with your pet, here are some tips to make your trip go as smoothly and safely as possible:

1. Keep your pet secure in your vehicle.  We recommend that your pet be kept in a secured travel crate or harness while riding in your vehicle.  Just as it is the law for humans to wear their seatbelts, animals are at risk too when it comes to sudden stops, collisions or roll-overs if they are not restrained or confined securely.  Not to mention, free-roaming animals in vehicles are a distraction to drivers and could result in an accident.

2. Bring your leash, harness and/or a kennel.  Keeping your animal safely on leash is required in many parks and around the lake.  Also as we travel, pit-stops are required so your dog can have a bathroom break; it is important to have your pet secured on a leash to avoid escape or potentially running out onto the street or highway where they could be injured.  When travelling long distances with your cat, it is recommended to have a kennel large enough to hold a litter box to allow them some relief if needed as well.

3.  Plan your route and breaks.  Tying into the point above, try to plan in advance for pit-stops and bathroom break areas.  In the summer it is too hot to leave your pet in the car while you run in to eat at a restaurant.  Consider going through a drive-through or packing your own picnic lunch so both you and your pet can enjoy the outdoors while you snack and take a break!

4. Choose pet-friendly locations and also consider where you may be camping.  Some parks and camp grounds do not allow pets because wildlife are more likely to attack or venture into camp sites when pets are present as they may see them as possible predators.  Consider also if you are going to be with your pet at all times or if you will need to sometimes leave them behind at your hotel or camp site. If they are left outdoors, be sure they have access to shade and lots of fresh water to avoid heat stroke.  Also if your pet routinely becomes anxious when left alone and you know you may have to spend several hours each day away from them, consider boarding your pet or having a family member pet-sit instead to make sure it's a relaxing holiday for both you and your four-legged who otherwise may be very stressed.

5. Plan to bring an ample supply of your pet's food and water.  Especially if your pet is on a prescription diet, you want to be sure to bring some extra days' worth in case your travel plans are delayed and you do not have easy access to your veterinary clinic.  Also certain parks and camp grounds do not have potable water which means your pet could potentially experience gastrointestinal upset or parasitic infection from drinking the water from the taps, lake or contaminated puddles.  For this reason you may wish to bring your own water supply from home.

6.  Identification.  We never want to think about our pet going missing but sadly it's a reality that happens daily.  Especially when you are far from home, identification is imperative in helping re-unite you with your pet should they become lost.  At Wascana Animal Hospital we recommend that all pets be microchipped as a means of permanent identification.  Consider also pet tags that have a contact name and phone number in case your pet just happens to wander away around the corner, someone can easily call or text you.  Did you know at Wascana Animal Hospital our Rabies tags have the SOS code that can be scanned by any smart phone?  This tag not only tells the public that your pet is vaccinated for Rabies, but is also has a unique barcode that they can scan with their cell phone.  Scanning will allow the "finder" to see whatever information the owner has registered for their pet's tag; including any pertinent medical or diet information.  Visit www.soslostpets.com for more info on this incredible tag!

7. Medications!  Depending on where you may be travelling, tick and heartworm preventatives may be indicated to avoid infection while your pet is enjoying the outdoors.  Be sure to let your veterinarian know what time of year and where you may be travelling to make sure your pet is protected.  Also if your pet is normally on a prescription medication you will want to be sure to bring a few extra days' worth in case of emergency or delayed travel plans.  Antihistamines can be helpful if your pet has a mild allergic reaction to an insect bite or exposure to plants in the environment.  Your veterinarian can advise you on what type and dose of antihistamine is recommended for your pet. Towels, combs, and nail clippers are also smart 'extras' to pack after swimming or being out on the trails.  

Planning ahead and being prepared for possible adverse events is the key to successful travel with your pet this summer.  Be safe and have fun!

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