Holiday Travel with your pet

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Holiday Travel with your pet

By Sheila Fitzpatrick, DVM

Be Prepared for Traveling with Pets

Planning ahead and being prepared is the best advice a veterinarian can give for those who will be traveling with pets. As your Vail Valley Veterinarian and Eagle Veterinarian with 24 on call emergency care, we often get calls from frantic travelers looking for "health Certificates" and last minute travel documents. We hope by writing this blog, we can alleivate your stress so that you may be better prepared to travel this holiday season.

With the vast amount of fees, regulations, time constraints and safety issues, it certainly can be "ruff" adding your pet to your travel plans.

As a veterinarian in the Vail Valley and Eagle County for many years, I have seen first-hand how many pet owners are unaware of the regulations of pet travel, in addition to the health impacts of changing weather, and the impending stress that confinement may bring. I have found the best way to travel with your pet is "prepared."

As you begin your travel plans, you should FIRST, call the carrier for your pet and ask the following:
-do they allow pets?
-do you need to pre-book travel or can the pet be booked at the gate?
- do you need a Certificate of Health inspection from an accredited veterinarian showing proof of rabies vaccination and a current examination within ten days of travel?
-what are the restrictions with respect to in cabin travel for example , what is the weight limit for your pet to be able to ride with you in the main cabin?
- what is required for appropriate transport of your pet, ie can the carrier be soft or hard sided, how wide or tall must it be, and how many water/food  bowls are allowed?
- what is the potential for extreme temperature exposure, ie the lowest and highest my pet may be exposed to?
- what will be the layover time for my pet, and if the plane is delayed, will someone be taking extra care of my pet?
- may I keep food and water with my pet at all times?

Second , if you are traveling across state lines or international borders, be aware of the specific requirements of your destination . For example, to take your pet to Hawaii, you must begin preparations 3 months in advance. For Canadian travel, only a rabies certificate is required. For European travel, you may even apply for a "pet passport."

It is an excellent idea to have your pet micro-chipped early on for easy identification of your pet at the time of travel and if your pet somehow is separated from you!

Finally, once you have arrived at your destination , there are things you must consider as well.
- are you traveling to the south where heart worm, fleas and ticks may prevail? Ask your veterinarian for prevention medications prior to your trip.

- are you traveling where there is an extreme heat or cold difference? Give your pet time to acclimate and bring appropriate covering should your pet be exposed to extreme cold.

- are you traveling to a higher altitude? Just like their owners, pets with underlying heart disease may have trouble with higher elevations, so consult your veterinarian if your pet does suffer from heart disease.

-bring your pet's regular food, as sudden diet changes may result in gastric upsets

- be sure your pet has water as often as allowed. Dehydration is all too common for the traveling pet!

Finally, have a great trip! Travel safe AND prepared!

We look forward to seeing you!