Happy Pet Traveling!

By Dr. Robert Wallace

August 8, 2020 6 min read

DR. WALLACE: Thank you for regularly publishing your collection of tips for traveling with a pet. I would like to add one more item to your list, which has been a No. 1 priority for our four-footed family members — namely, to use a latched carrier whenever traveling in a vehicle with a pet. Our pets, especially cats, feel more secure when they can "hide" in their "den."

With a pet safely cocooned in its carrier, it can't get under the driver's seat, and there is no danger of escape via a door or window. In an unfortunate accident, the pet will be in a controlled situation and unable to run away or "defend" the occupants from would-be rescuers. — Pet Lover, via email

PET LOVER: Thank you for your letter and excellent suggestions. You've provided an excellent addition to the widely suggested "tips for traveling with pets" list that the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends and that I widely endorse.

Here's the list of air travel suggestions those who might not yet have seen it:

— Book a direct flight whenever possible. This will decrease the chances that your pet is left on the tarmac during extreme weather conditions or mishandled by baggage personnel during a layover.

— Make an appointment with your pet's veterinarian for a checkup. Prior to your trip, make sure your pet's vaccinations are up to date. Tranquilizing your pet is generally not recommended, as it could hamper his or her breathing, so check with your veterinarian for ways to prevent your pet from becoming anxious or uncomfortable midflight.

— Purchase a U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved shipping crate. The crate should be large enough for your pet to stand, sit and turn around in comfortably, and it should be lined with some type of bedding — shredded paper or towels — to absorb accidents. Prior to your trip, tape a small pouch of dried food outside the crate so airline personnel will be able to feed your pet in case he or she gets hungry during a layover. The night before you leave, freeze a small dish or tray of water for your pet. This way, it can't spill during loading and will melt by the time he or she is thirsty. Make sure the crate door is securely closed, but not locked, so that airline personnel can open it in case of an emergency.

— Mark the crate with the words "live animal," and include your name, cellphone number, destination phone number and a photo of your pet. You should also carry a photograph of your pet.

— Tell every airline employee you encounter — on the ground and in the air — that you are traveling with a pet in the cargo hold. This way, they'll be ready if any additional attention is needed. If the plane is delayed, or if you have any concerns about the welfare of your pet, insist that airline personnel check the animal whenever feasible.

Here are car travel safety tips to help you prepare for a safe automobile trip:

— Prep your pet for a long trip. Get your pet geared up by taking him on a series of short drives first, gradually lengthening time spent in the car. If you're traveling across state lines, bring along your pet's rabies vaccination records, as some states require this at interstate crossings.

— Keep your pets safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. The crate should be large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. Secure your pet's crate so it will not slide or shift in the event of an abrupt stop. If you decide to forgo the crate, don't allow your pet to ride with his head outside the window, and always keep him in the back seat in a harness attached to a seat buckle.

— Prep a pet-friendly travel kit. Bring food, a bowl, a leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication, first-aid supplies and any travel documents. Pack a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity. Be sure to pack plenty of water, and avoid feeding your pet in a moving vehicle. Your pet's travel-feeding schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours prior to departure, and always opt for bottled water. Drinking tap water from a new area may cause stomach discomfort.

— Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace, and heatstroke can develop. In cold weather, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and subjecting your pet to the danger of freezing.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: ivanovgood at Pixabay

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