Oz: Include your pets in the family Christmas getaways

The issue of caring for the family pet while you are gone can be an obstacle.

Many of my clients are debating about traveling to spend the holidays with their friends or family away from home.

The issue of caring for the family pet while they are gone occasionally can be an obstacle.

Beside a boarding kennel or hiring a pet sitter, you should also consider taking the pet along with you.

Owning a pet should not restrict you from traveling and going on vacations.

Even hotels and airlines are acknowledging this fact and accommodating their customers who bring their pets along.

But before you travel,  there are few things you should think about in order to keep the trip safe and pleasurable for both you and your pet.

I strongly recommend to all pets owner to put an identification tag on the pet’s collar and to consider injecting an identification microchip.

A microchip is permanent and can’t get lost or be removed in case of the pet’s theft.

Before traveling anywhere, make sure your pet is vaccinated up to date.

If you are planning on crossing an international border, in particular the United States, a rabies vaccine is mandatory.

It is recommended to apply deworming, tick and flea control, and heartworm prevention medications to the pet.

You should also check if there is a specific prevalence of any infectious agent in your destination area, that might require a specific preventative treatment.

Whether you are traveling by air or by car, you should think about the factors that will make your pet comfortable and safe.

When traveling by air, the pet has to be placed in a traveling crate.

If you are traveling with a large breed dog, check with your airline what are the rules and restrictions for the crate size and weight, because those vary between the different airline companies.

If your crate is very large you might face a problem with the airline or will be required to pay an extra fee.

It is better to be well prepared and not to face unpleasant surprises on the day of the actual trip.

The pet should be comfortable in its crate.

When you are choosing a traveling crate, make sure it is large enough to allow the animal stand, sit upright and lie down comfortably in the crate.

Make sure that the crate is not broken and that it can be latched securely.

Label the crate with a “Live Animal” designation, and your contact numbers both at home and at the destination address.

Placing a familiar blanket and safe toys can help the animal feel more comfortable.

It is very important to make sure that the crate is well ventilated. Some owners cover the crate to limit the pet’s vision and reduce stress.

This cover should be removed before boarding to the plane to ensure adequate air supply.

The question of whether to sedate the pet is always a dilemma to the owners.

I usually recommend to owners to better avoid it if possible, and to sedate only animals that are extremely stressed because sedating an animal without being able to monitor it might bare some risks.

Make sure you put enough water in the crate that will last for the whole length of trip.

If the length of trip and the medical condition of the pet’s allows it, you better not leave food in the create, and feed soon after arriving to the destination.

When you travel by car you are not obligated to use a crate, but I definitely recommend using a crate especially when traveling with a cat.

Cats tend to get extremely stressed in an unfamiliar situation and can escape very easily if not confined. If your pet suffers from car sickness your vet can prescribe anti -nausea medications.

When traveling by car with a dog, it is recommended not to let it sit in the front passenger sit if there is an airbag in the car.

It is better to place the dog in the back sit. You can find different car seat harnesses and other safety accessories in pet’s equipment stores. Remember to make frequent stops for the dog to drink,exercise and to release itself, and at all times keep your dog on a leash.

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