By Elva Ma, DVM
With summer officially in full swing, many of us are in the midst of, or planning, our summer travels. Our furry companions are part of our families, so it is natural to consider bringing them along as well. Whether by car, plane, or train, I’ve compiled a list of suggestions to make travel as easy and stress-free as possible for you and your pet.
The first thing to think about is whether it is worth bringing your pet along in the first place. If your pet suffers from motion sickness or anxiety, or gets highly stressed during travel, it may be best to leave them at home with a trusted pet-sitter, especially if you will only be gone for a short while.
If you will be travelling with your pet, here are the points to consider:
What are the rules and regulations pertaining to entry of pets into your destination country?
Many have specific requirements, such as certain vaccines and deworming. Check the CFIA website for specific entry requirements for different countries. If in doubt, please call the team at Wellesley. We deal with travelling pets on a regular basis and would be happy to help walk you through the process!
Book a visit with your vet.
Many foreign countries requires a health examination and health certificate issued by a veterinarian within 10 days of travel. This ensures that your pet is healthy enough to travel, up to date with vaccines, and will not be at added risk due to an underlying or hidden illness.
Consider getting your pet microchipped.
This provides pets with a permanent form of identification in case they get lost during travel. Microchipping is a relatively quick and painless procedure, and can be done within minutes at our hospital.
If travelling by plane, will your pet be in the cabin, or cargo?
For many airlines, pets that weigh under 10 kg with the carrier included may travel in the cabin.
Locate a veterinarian near where you will be staying.
Save a map on your phone so you can get there quickly in the event of an emergency.
Now that we’ve covered all the red tape, let’s make the travel experience a positive one for your pet:
- If you will be using a travel carrier, allow your pet plenty of time to get acquainted with it, ideally a week or more. Leave the carrier out in your home, and place a favourite blanket, toys and treats into it. Allow your pet to explore the carrier at their leisure, without locking them in it. When your pet does enter the carrier willingly, reward them with plenty of petting and treats.
- Try spraying a natural anti-anxiety pheromone in the carrier, and use it at your destination to help your pet adjust to their new environment. Feliway and Adaptil are two well-studied pheromone sprays that have proven positive effects on travel stress in cats and dogs, respectively. By the way, the team at Wellesley also sprays these calming pheromones in the examination room and on ourselves to help de-stress pets during their veterinary visits!
- If your pet will be travelling in the car, it may be worth doing a couple of test drives with him or her. For cats, placing a towel over the top of the carrier may help to muffle surrounding noises and help them feel more secure. Hopefully, a couple of short drives will allow them to get accustomed to the movements and sounds of your car.
- Try to avoid scheduling your travel until at least 2-3 hours after a meal, to avoid a possible upset tummy. For those that do get motion sickness, ask us about natural and prescription remedies available to help prevent nausea.
- Reward, reward, reward! Taking a pet out of their normal environment is tough. You can do a lot to help alleviate their stress, through plenty of encouragement and petting, and of course the occasional treat when appropriate. After all, your pets deserve to let loose a bit while on vacation too!
Wishing all of our friends and family a safe and joyful summer travel season from us here at Wellesley!