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What To Do With Pets When You Travel

Almost every pet owner faces this question, and planning is critical to a solution.

Leticia Materi, PhD, DVM
Posted: June 23, 2014, 2:25 a.m. EDT

During the summer, being able to take time off and go on a holiday is always a welcomed activity. However, one concern that pet owners have is what to do with their pet while they are away.

Some people like to travel with their pet. I have many clients that take their ferrets on camping trips or bring their rabbit when visiting friends or family. When travelling with your pet, it is important to keep a few things in mind. Animals should always be kept in an escape-proof carrier. No one wants to have to dismantle their dashboard to find a pet! The enclosure should have a non-slip, absorbent floor or bedding, such as a towel, to provide security for your pet and to help keep him or her dry. Carriers are also designed to protect your pet in case of an accident. Many carriers have areas that allow them to be attached to a seatbelt.
It is also important to be aware of where the carrier is at all times. Sunlight pouring through a car window can easily overheat a pet and cause heatstroke. Use towels or appropriate shades to help protect your pet.

If travelling by air, check in advance about the rules and regulations your airline has about transporting animals. If possible, always have your pet in the cabin with you so that you can monitor him.

guinea pig in bag and ferret in carrier
© Leticia Materi, PhD, DVM
Using an escape-proof carrier is critical whenever you travel with your pet.

I always encourage owners to familiarize their pet with the carrier for several weeks before travel. If possible, place the carrier in your pet’s environment with the door open to allow him to get used to the sight and smell of it. Place food or treats in it as well so that your pet gets used to eating in it.

Providing water can be a challenge, so training your pet to accept water from a bottle may be helpful or bringing a collapsible bowl that you can fill. With rabbits and rodents, I encourage people to provide vegetables that are high in water content, such as leafy greens or cucumber while travelling.

If you plan on crossing the boarder into another country with your pet, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct paperwork. Some countries require specific vaccinations, health certificates from a veterinarian or microchip identification of pets. Be sure to plan ahead.

Depending on the age or health status of your pet, leaving him at home may be best. Have a friend, neighbor or family member pet-sit in your home so that your pet can remain in a familiar environment, thus reducing stress.

It is very important to have a plan should your pet get sick or have an accident while you are away. Leave clear instructions for your pet sitter or veterinary clinic, or find out if there is a veterinarian familiar with exotic pets at your destination. The Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians has a website that lists members.

Planning ahead will hopefully allow everyone to enjoy their holiday!

Note: This article is meant for educational purposes only and in no way represents any particular individual or case. It is not for diagnostic purposes. If your pet is sick, please take him or her to a veterinarian.

See all of Dr. Materi's blogs, click here>>

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And check out:
Guinea Pig Travel Tips, click here>>
Four Steps For Chinchilla Travel, click here>>
Safe Airplane Travel With Rabbits, click here>>
Ferret Travel Stress Concerns, click here>>

Posted: June 23, 2014, 2:25 a.m. EDT

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What To Do With Pets When You Travel

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Reader Comments
I suggest researching pet sitter services well in advance. You never know when an emergency will pop up. We have ferrets, and when we went out of state last year we researched pet sitters months in advance and found an awesome service. It's very difficult and outrageously expensive to travel by air with ferrets, and inconvenient at best with other pets. Look into pet sitters, interview them and check references. We did, and were very happy with ours.
Chris, New Smyrna Beach, FL
Posted: 7/1/2014 11:15:24 AM
We have 7+ ferrets and solved this dilemma by buying a travel trailer! We outfitted the upper bunk bed with a double Ferret Nation cage. They love traveling with us and it helps us to share the ferret education. They have been to Yellowstone Park to Williamsburg.
Laura, Belleville, IL
Posted: 7/1/2014 9:58:10 AM
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