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Hitting the road with your four-legged friend? Whether you're going
cross-country or taking a short trip, read these eight tips to help prepare your pet for
1. Implant a microchip. In the case of a lost pet, this greatly increases the chance you’ll be reunited. A
microchip, a glass cylinder about the size of a grain of rice that’s inserted under your pet’s skin, holds a unique number that is associated with pet-owner information maintained in a national database.
Animal shelters and veterinary clinics
scan the chip to retrieve the pet’s number. They then access the pet’s number in the database to discover its owners.
2. Vaccinate. Update your pet’s
vaccines — and depending on where you’re headed and whether your pet will be in contact with other animals, your veterinarian might recommend additional
vaccinations. Talk with your veterinarian well in advance of your trip since some vaccines require a series of injections to be effective.
3. Prepare for parasites. Using broad-spectrum
parasite-prevention products that control
fleas, ticks and other parasites is key for dogs and
cats, especially if you’re traveling to a warm climate where the risk of infestation is increased. Ask your veterinarian about which
parasite-prevention products are best for your pet.
4. Avoid toxic plants. New surroundings bring new fauna that you may not be familiar with. A host of plants — such as azaleas, milkweeds and
mushrooms — may cause
vomiting or worse if eaten by pets. Lily ingestion can even cause death in cats. If you think your pet may have eaten a
toxic plant, call your veterinarian or a poison control hotline immediately.
5. Be ready for emergencies. Don’t lug an entire file box on your trip, but do
ask your veterinarian to prepare a quick history of your pet’s vaccinations, major illnesses and any
medications he may be taking. (For
air travel, a copy of your pet’s vaccine history should be attached to his carrier.) It’s also a good idea to find out ahead of time where the closest emergency care veterinary facility is in relation to your destination.
6. Bring familiar food. Pets are exposed to enough changes while traveling. Their eating habits shouldn’t be one of them. Why? Diarrhea + long car rides = major unpleasantness. Take food and treats along in case stores at your destination do not carry the same varieties your pet is accustomed to. And don’t forget to frequently offer your pet fresh water.
7. Use a carrier. Many airlines require pets to be in a
carrier or crate. When
traveling by car, keep cats and
dogs in a
secured carrier for their protection — and yours. Pets may do something you don’t expect, but if they’re in a crate they aren’t likely to cause an accident.
8. Consider letting pets stay home. Most
cats are homebodies and would prefer to stay in their own world, so if possible, let them.
Dogs are more likely to enjoy getting out, but
not every dog loves travel. If leaving pets in your home
under someone else's care isn’t possible, consider boarding them at your veterinary clinic or a facility your veterinarian recommends. They’ll be safe, and they’ll still get a vacation.
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