“Pet owners should consider three main facets of successful travel: planning, leveraging the potential of online communities, and preparing for emergencies. Planning resources can be found for free at the library, through social media, or via online review sites. Preparing for surprises with an emergency kit makes travel much less stressful. With a little preparation, any trip can be a wonderful experience for you and your pet,” says Hunter, veterinarian and co-owner of LazyPaw Animal Hospitals in Frisco, Tx.
Planning a trip is easy with guides such as AAA Traveling With Your Pet, a book available at most libraries that’s brimming with suggestions and pet friendly locations. Social tools including Facebook, PetTravel.com, BarkBuckleup.com, Petswelcome.com, and BringFido.com make it easy to query people who know the road you’re traveling and can make personal recommendations.
Though advice is great, take pet planning into your own hands by calling hotels and airlines yourself to confirm policies and prices. Most hotels and airlines cater to pets on some level, and some even offer pet perk rewards. Ask about what size pets are allowed, whether there are pet amenities, if you can leave your pets unattended in the room, what deposit costs are, and whether those fees are refundable.
Know where the nearest boarding facility is just in case, and keep a map or list of the closest emergency vets in your “pet packet.” Pet packets should include a medical history, vaccination record, and health certificates if required by an airline or customs department. The rule is to have three copies—two for you and one on your pet’s kennel.
Microchipping is one of the easiest (and cheapest) steps you can take to keep your pet safe. Make sure the vet uses a chip with European standard ISP frequency if you’re traveling overseas since microchips, like electrical outlets, are not always compatible in Europe.
If you’re pond hopping, research each country’s rules and regulations for visiting pets. Some countries are more open to animal visitors than others, and some have much higher fees for pet travelers. Other factors to consider are the prevalence of local pet illnesses; Australia, for example, doesn’t have rabies and is particular about screening pets entering the country.
One of the most pet friendly airlines in the pack is Virgin Atlantic, whose Flying Paws plan rewards repeat travelers with “paw prints” redeemable for gifts including Burberry, Prada, and Gucci pet clothing. If your pup is fussy in the air, ask for ice chips in a bag to give them something to chew.
If your trip is in the car, take precautions to keep your pet safe. You would never let your child ride without a safety belt, so don’t forget your pet. Any loose item can become a dangerous projectile in an accident, and heavier animals could go through windshields. Invest in a quality pet seatbelt that will keep your dog in place and buckle down kitty crates securely.
When you’re on the road, don’t forget nature’s call. Before flying, always walk your pet before you enter the airport. When driving, give your pet a chance to go whenever you stop for gas; a three to five hour interval is okay for adult dogs, but puppies will need to go more often. State welcome centers are great places to stop because they have more amenities than average rest stops.
Waste bags are a necessary tool for your prepared first aid kit. Your kit should have a crate for keeping your pet safe, food and water, collapsible bowls, medications, medical records, a tick remover tool, harnesses and leashes, and a flashlight. Pack cleaning supplies such as paper towels, air freshener, cleaning wipes, and garbage bags.
“Aside from advance planning, use common sense and consideration to keep your pet safe and happy while traveling. Always keep your pet on a leash. This is a safety issue and courtesy to other travelers, and in many places it’s the law. Remember new scenery can be both exciting and stressful for animals, so do your best to keep your furry friend content along the way. Bring treats, a favorite blanket, and a special toy to make them feel at home. Plenty of love, reassurance, and petting are great, too,” said Hunter.
About LazyPaw Animal Hospitals
LazyPaw was founded in Frisco in 2006 by husband and wife team Dr. Brent Bilhartz and Dr. Julaine Hunter. The practice offers easy online appointment scheduling and a comprehensive online pharmacy that rivals big box retailers for both price and convenience. From preventative care to boarding, complex surgery to dental cleaning, LazyPaw is here to partner with pet lovers and give our patients the best care possible.
For more information, visit lazypawvet.com.