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May 25, 2004 > Traveling With Charley or Fluffy

Traveling With Charley or Fluffy

by Nancy Lyon

Vacation time should be fun but it can also be a stressful time when you have animals to consider. If you plan to leave your animal companion at home, it would be ideal to have someone he is comfortable with stay at your home, or a responsible neighbor or relative visit twice a day to care for his physical and emotional needs. If this isn't workable, you are faced with alternatives that include enlisting the services of a professional pet sitter or finding a highly qualified boarding kennel.

And then there are some people who find that taking their animal friend with them is preferable to leaving them in the care of others. If you make that choice, you will be faced with special problems while travelling.

If you want to have your four-legged friend travel with you while on vacation or if you are moving to a new location, here are some travel tips.

  • Even animals that are closely bonded with you can become frightened in a strange environment and bolt out of open doors and windows. Never take it for granted that your usually steady dog or cat will not become unnerved by out-of-the-ordinary occurrences. Always keep them on a leash when outside your car or motel room.
  • Whenever your animal travels with you, or by another means, he should wear a special identification tag in addition to his regular one. Write his name, your name, the person to contact at your destination, their phone number, a destination address, or that of a friend or relative, in case you need to be reached. Having him micro-chipped can act as a backup but should not be depended upon entirely.
  • Consult with your veterinarian concerning mild sedation if you think that he may need it during the trip.

Travel By Car Checklist

  • If your dog or cat is not used to travelling by car, make short trips with him a week or two in advance of the trip to accustom him to motion and to teach him how to behave. His reaction will let you know if sedation may be needed.
  • Dogs should be taught to lie quietly, keep their heads inside, and not interfere with the driver or passengers. Don't let your dog stick his head in the wind. It can irritate eyes and cause problems.
  • Cats are often frightened by car travel, but some cats adjust quickly. While some people feel it's OK to allow a cat to find its own place in the car, it is hazardous.
  • It is best to confine a cat to a comfortable carrier containing a familiar blanket and favorite toy.
  • Folding kennels or crates especially designed for station wagons can be most useful for dogs and cats.
  • Accustom your animal companion to being on a leash or harness. Always use the leash when travelling. Even better is a pet harness (available at most pet stores) that connects to the car's seatbelt; it allows some movement while keeping him safely restrained. Animals can quickly bolt into traffic or become lost in a strange place if not properly restrained.
  • If stopping overnight, check in advance to find a motel that will permit animals to spend the night. Don't leave him to sleep in the car.
  • Never leave him out of sight in an unattended vehicle.
  • Have a suitable travel kit: an adequate supply of his regular food, food and water dishes, can opener (if needed), a few treats, a favorite toy, a blanket, comb or brush. Just in case - a sedative (if prescribed by your veterinarian or Bach Flower Rescue Remedy available in health food stores), paper towels, spray room deodorant if you will be staying overnight at a hotel or motel, a scooper and plastic bag to clean up after "accidents."

    Entry Requirements

    • If your destination is across state lines, nearly every state has laws on the entry of animals. For information, call or write to the State Veterinarian, State Department of Animal Husbandry, or other appropriate authority.
    • Interstate health certificates must accompany dogs entering nearly all states. In some cases, this certificate must be in the hands of the state regulatory agency in advance of the entry.
    • All but four states require proof of an up-to-date rabies inoculation for dogs and many require it for cats. The rabies tag must be securely attached to the collar. Some animals must have an entry permit issued by the destination state's regulatory agency. Receipt of the interstate health certificate may be required before the permit can be issued. Some states limit the time during which the entry permit is valid.
    • A few states have border inspections of all animals being transported while others have random inspection by highway patrol officers.

    Local Laws
    Most communities have animal control ordinances. Keeping your dog leashed, immunized and under control will protect him and the public.

    Travelling with an animal friend can be a challenge but the key to success is to plan ahead. By doing your homework and using common-sense protections, travelling with them can be adventure. But be alert and always remember that there is risk involved. If you are unsure in any situation - don't take chances.

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