Think Of Your Pet When Planning A Trip

Beach Metro News

By Dr. Nigel Skinner • September 20, 2011 • Print This Article
ALTHOUGH MARCH break is now behind us, there are still many of us planning getaways in the coming months. Whether it is a weekend trip to the cottage or a much longer journey overseas, for many people leaving home means having to make special arrangements for their pets.

Making sure our pets are comfortable and well looked after when we travel often means we have to consider one of three options, have them cared for in our own home, take them somewhere else to be looked after, and of course bringing them along.

Obviously the length of our absence, our destination and the individual nature of the pets in question will often dictate which option we choose.

Often for our feline friends, having someone come to the house to feed and check in, give a few pets and cuddles, assuming they’re not hiding under the bed, and to check and clean the litter, is the best option for short periods away. As a rule, most cats given the choice prefer to stay in their own comfort zone and change as little as possible. Many cats will be much happier to stay ata home than they would be if up-rooted and thrust into unfamiliar territory.

This approach obviously won’t work for dogs. Fortunately for our canine friends, there are many more available options for boarding and overnight care. Recently many very specialized “dog camps” have sprung up and are able to provide the type of care and fun while you’re out of town that may just have your best friend wishing you’d go away more often. Ask around at the park or at your vet for some recommendations.

Whatever arrangements you come to when having your pets looked after while you are away, make sure you leave behind very clear directions in case the unexpected happens. Make sure that the caregiver knows how to reach you at all times during your vacation, knows where to take your cat or dog for medical attention, and has clear directives if they cannot contact you. If you imagine a worst case scenario and picture how you would want it handled make sure your caregiver has the tools and directions to carry that out.

Call it Murphy’s Law but many vets will agree that it does seem that many very difficult decisions seem to land in the laps of the cat or dog sitter, and unclear directions can waste valuable time.

If you’re thinking of taking your pet along with you for the trip, you will also have some things to think about. Firstly a few words on taking a pet overseas; plan well in advance! As soon as you start even entertaining the idea of taking your pet abroad, remember that, while you may think of having your fun- loving pup along for a trip through Europe as a great way to enjoy the sights, the food inspection and agriculture ministries of any foreign country look at it as importing livestock. The regulations in this area seem to be in a constant state of flux; always check with the consulate of the country you are planning to visit to get the most up to date requirements. Also check with the airline and be certain you understand and are able to comply with their directions.

For some countries, especially those that are rabies free, you may have to begin preparations at least six months prior to departure. Don’t plan on taking your dog on a hiking tour of New Zealand next week!

Taking your pet along also means giving consideration to protecting them against some threats that may not be relevant at home. Here in Southern Ontario the winter keeps certain threats such as fleas and mosquitoes in check; this is not true if we travel far south of the border. Check with your vet to see if your pet should be on any preventative medication for heartworm for instance if you are travelling to warmer climates during the months when these medications are not routinely given here.

Here’s hoping that any trips with or without your pets this summer are enjoyable. Don’t let a lack of planning for your cat or dog ruin the fun or far worse, threaten their well being.