Summer Travel With Pets

With Memorial day right around the corner, people are planning their summer getaways.  Some will go to the beach to frolic in the surf.  Others will head to the mountains for a relaxing hike.  And many will head to their cabins on the lake for undisturbed family time.  If you plan on bringing your pets, it is important to prepare now to insure the entire family has a wonderful time.

First, make sure your pet is current on all of their preventative health care needs including vaccinations, heartworm preventative and flea and tick control.  In my experience, rest stops, parks and public areas are often contaminated with potential pathogens from other pets as well as wild animals. For example, raccoons carry a roundworm called Baylisascaris that causes horrible disease if ingested by humans or dogs.  Please avoid racoon latrines, that’s a fancy term for a pile of racoon feces usually found at the base of a tree. It is critical that you stay vigilant in public areas.    

Second, check with local clinics and media sources to see if there are any special health concerns in the area.  According to the Lee county Domestic Animal Services, Lee County in Florida has seen an unusually large number of dogs infected with parvovirus.  They report concentrations in the Cape Coral and North Fort Myers area.  I love that area of Florida but sadly can not recommend traveling in this county with a puppy or any dog who is not current on vaccinations or suffers from immunosuppression.  

Third, collect all the documents required for travel.  I always recommend bringing a copy of your pet’s vaccination history with you just in case the pet accidentally scratches or nips.  Your veterinarian has vaccination booklets called “Pet Passports” that contain all of this information in a convenient folder. It is small and fits nicely into a glove compartment or purse.  Highlight anything your pet is allergic too as well as chronic medical conditions.  Be sure to have Benadryl or other medications your pet might need.

Last, make sure your contact information is clearly displayed on your pet’s collar.  If your pet is microchipped, have your veterinarian scan the chip to verify it still works.  Then call the company to update your contact information with current mobile numbers and e-mail addresses.  If you are in an area without cell coverage, designate an emergency contact person who knows how to contact you.

The human-animal bond is powerful.  I know many of you would not think of leaving the pets behind.  Prepare thoughtfully and you will have a magnificent time . . . and so will your pet!

Cassidy, McKenzie, “Officials concerned about increased number of parvovirus cases:  Illness can prove fata in dogs.”, May 13, 2010.

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.