With the hot summer temperatures and humidity rising here in Marlow, OK, you may be considering taking a vacation to a place with a cooler climate. To help you do that, we put together ten summer travel tips for any adventure you might go on with your pets. These tips are wise to follow even if you stay local and only do short day trips.
1. Get Your Pet a Wellness Check Before Your Summer Travel
Let us know if you plan to take your pet on a trip. We can perform a wellness exam and ensure your pet has a clean bill of health. Depending on your destination, your pet may need extra vaccinations or health certificates to travel. Make sure you go over this with us at your pet’s visit. And while you are here, ensure your pet’s microchip is still working.
2. Get Your Pet Microchipped and Registered
If you still need to get your pet microchipped and registered, do this before your trip. It takes very little time to get done, and it is worth it to save you and your pet the heartache should the unthinkable happen, and your pet gets away from you while you are traveling. Have your pet wear a collar and name tag with your cell phone number.
3. Check with Veterinarians at Your Destination
Before leaving town, check with local veterinarians at your destination to see if they will treat your pet during your travels if needed. Include emergency pet hospitals that take pets on an emergency basis.
4. Keep Your Pet Secure While Traveling
According to an AAA survey, over 80 percent of drivers admit that they recognize the dangers of driving with an unrestrained pet, but only 16 percent use pet restraints.
If a car crashes at just 25mph, it can project an unrestrained pet forward at a force equal to 40 times its weight. For example, A large dog weighing 75 lbs. can achieve an impact force of 3,000 pounds in a car crash, which could be a lethal blow for both a passenger and the pet. But even for a small pet weighing only 8 pounds, the projected force will be 320 pounds and can cause death to the pet.
If traveling in a car, put your pet in a safety restraint or carrier secured to the seat with the seat belt. For example, dog restraints use the vehicle’s built-in lower anchor and tethers for children (LATCH) systems. These are found only in the second and third rows of cars. Cats and exotic pets must be in a carrier placed on the back seat and secured with a seat belt.
Don’t travel with your pet in the front seat; they can distract you from your driving. Also, if an airbag deploys while your pet is in the passenger seat (even in a crate), it might injure or kill your pet.
5. Never Leave Your Pet in the Car Alone!
Never leave your pet alone in the car, even for a brief stop of a few minutes. The temperature in a car can heat up rapidly. For example, on an 85-degree day, even with open windows, your vehicle can reach 98 degrees in just 10 minutes and 104° in 30 minutes! So, take your pet with you! If you are driving and need to stop for food, find pet-friendly restaurants or visit a drive-through restaurant.
6. Always Keep Your Pet on a Leash or Harness or in a Crate or Carrier
We don’t want to see any of our pet parents suffer the heartbreak of losing their pet while on vacation. Even if your pet is well-behaved, keep them on a leash or harness if you take them out of the car. A leash can protect them from traffic and other animals because they can’t run after them. Many places also have leash laws, which means that going on public property without your pet on a leash could result in a hefty fine.
Cats and exotic pets like ferrets and rabbits can be trickier. Even if you don’t take your pet on walks with a harness and leash as a routine, it is best to train them to wear one if you travel with your pet. If harness and leash training is feasible, always keep your pet in its carrier until you reach your destination.
7. Give Your Pet Rest Stops
Plan frequent rest stops so your pet can get out of the car to exercise and eliminate. As mentioned above, if you have a cat or exotic pet, don’t let it out of the vehicle if it is not on a leash. You can give them breaks in the car to use the litter box, drink water, etc., as long as you leave the windows up and doors shut so they cannot escape. Make sure to bring a litter tray with disposable tray liners and litter.
8. Pack Enough Food and Water for Your Pet
Pets do best when kept on the same diet. Grocery stores along your route may not carry your pet’s brand. So, better to make sure you take enough food for your whole trip and take enough water. Also, remember to pack food and water bowls.
9. Avoid Car Sickness
If your pet experiences motion sickness from the car, you can help them by taking steps ahead of the trip.
Familiarity with travel may help prevent car sickness. Start by bringing them into the car, turning on the engine, getting them out of it, and giving them a treat. You can build on this by taking them on a short trip and rewarding them until they can take longer trips.
There is also anti-nausea medication for pets. For example, Cerenia® is a veterinary nausea medication for pets. If you think your pet may need anti-nausea medicines, ask us during your wellness visit before your trip.
10. Take a Pet First Aid Kit
You can never be too prepared. Make sure you have a first aid kit, any medications they might need, and anything else you can think of that you might need in a pinch. Here are necessities to include in your emergency or first aid kit:
- Emergency Contact Card: phone numbers for your veterinarian, a 24-hour emergency clinic, and Animal Poison Control Center which is: (855) 764-7661 (a $75 incident fee does apply, but it can be the difference between life and death).
- Blunt-tipped scissors
- Sterile Eye Solution
- Latex or rubber gloves
- Plastic syringe for administering medications.
- Medications for your pet
- Styptic Powder: Styptic powder is used to stop mild bleeding, particularly if a nail has been broken or cut too close to the quick. Miracle Care Kwik-Stop styptic powder for dogs, cats and birds includes benzocaine, which helps ease the pain.
- Digital Thermometer
- Calming chews or treats.
These ten travel tips will help you safely take your pet anywhere. We are here to help you prepare for the trip by making sure your pet is healthy and microchipped for their safety. Even if you are not planning a trip, this is a good time of year for a wellness checkup to help ensure your pet manages the summer heat and humidity. We’ll treat your pet with compassion and provide individualized, tender loving care.
We hope that you and your pets have a great summer!
Dr. Jeff Hammond
Hammond Veterinary Hospital