iStock_000016700754_SmallWith summer under way, many of you are looking forward to your summer vacation. But when the open road calls to both you and your pet, there are a few extra steps that should be taken. Keep these pet travel safety tips in mind, both as you pack and as you travel, to help ensure that you and your pet have the vacation you both deserve.

ID Tags and Microchips

When preparing your pet for a family vacation you’ll want to make sure he or she is wearing a collar, equipped with proper ID tags. However, collars can and do come off. Because of this, we also advise that you have your pet microchipped (if he or she isn’t already), and that you double check that the chip is both activated and updated with your current contact info.

More than likely, your pet will be with you at all times, but you’ll want to ensure his or her identification is apparent in case your pet runs off or gets separated from you during the trip.

Packing for Your Pet

Just as you need a few of the comforts of home, so does your pet. Don’t forget to pack your pet’s food and water, as well as some bedding and a few toys. You’ll also need a good leash, and preferably one that can be attached around a tree or post, in case you stop for a bit. Also, if your pet is on any medications, don’t forget to pack those as well, as well as the prescription’s bottle (especially for controlled substances) and instructions.

Please let us know if you need a copy of the prescription. We’d have for you to get in trouble for not having proof that your pet has been prescribed the medications you are carrying.

Vaccinations and Motion Sickness

Your pet should be up-to-date on all vaccinations before leaving on vacation. In fact, some states actually require you to carry proof of vaccination (see #18) when traveling through them. Likewise, you’ll need a travel certificate from a veterinarian dated no less than 10 days prior to your departure if you’re planning on taking your pet out of the country, including trips to Mexico or Canada.

You’ll also want to double-check with your veterinarian to make sure that your pet is current with his or her parasite preventatives for fleas, ticks, and heartworm, so that he or she will be safe from infectious diseases and parasite-borne infections.

It is also important to limit the amount of time that your pet rides with his or her head out of the window as prolonged exposure to the rapidly moving air and potential debris can cause ear, lung, and eye infections. A little bit is OK, but overall it is not the best practice for a responsible pet owner.

If your pet tends to experience motion sickness, give us a call before your departure about possible medicines that could make the car ride more bearable for your pet (and you… and your car’s upholstery).

Car Restraints

An unrestrained pet can cause serious problems during a family vacation, such as jumping into the driver’s lap or moving from seat to seat while traveling down an interstate.

To keep your family and pet safe, restrain your pet with a harness or keep your pet in a securely anchored carrier or crate during travel time. Be sure to do your research on which restraint is best for your size and breed, and don’t hesitate to call us with your questions.

Rest Stops and Water Breaks

Plan for plenty of stops to allow your pet time outside of the vehicle to get water, stretch his or her legs, and go to the bathroom.

Taking your pet for a short walk at the rest area is a good way to keep your pet happy and less stressed about his or her time in the car. You may also want to look for dog parks along your route as a pet-friendly option for pit stops, as this will give your dog a chance to work off some energy and explore the smells of somewhere new.

Since the majority of your traveling will take place in the car, it is important to remember that you should never leave your pet alone in a parked vehicle. If you do need to spend the day sight-seeing at some not-so-pet-friendly areas, check to see if there is a local doggie day camp for your pet to spend the day at, instead.

Your pet will love the chance to accompany you and the family on your summer vacation, especially when you take the extra steps to ensure that your pet’s time in the car is peaceful and relaxing.

If you have any other questions or concerns, or if you need to schedule an appointment for a microchip, vaccinations and preventatives, or to get a travel certificate, please give us a call. We’re always happy to help.