We all know pet medical emergencies don’t just happen at home. A few simple steps can better prepare you to help your special traveling companion with first aid care if it becomes necessary while you are traveling.
When traveling, pack a simple travel-size first aid kit for pet care similar to the one you have at home, along with a diarrhea medication that is safe for animals (ask your veterinarian to suggest a product). Don’t forget any medications that your pet may be taking at the time of your trip.
Be sure to have handy the phone numbers of your Kansas City veterinarian, the national animal poison control hotline (888-426-4235), and a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital in the area where you will be visiting.
Your pet should be wearing an ID tag which should be labeled with your name, home address and phone number. Also a travel tag with information on where you are staying while away from home, so you can be contacted while still in the area.
Perform a daily hands-on “health check” on your pet when away from home. Contact your usual veterinarian or a local veterinarian if you are concerned about any physical or behavioral changes.
Pet Care For Air Travel
The USDA requires that your pet be offered food and water within four hours before you check in with an airline. Since a full stomach might be uncomfortable for your pet during travel, we recommend feeding him right at four hours before the flight, if possible.
While it’s best to refrain from feeding your pet right before the flight, you can give him water right up to the time of travel. Just be sure to empty the dish before checking in so it doesn’t spill during the flight. If you’re checking the pet, leave dishes in the carrier so an airline employee will be able to provide him with food and water in the event of an extended wait before or after the flight.
Exercise your pet before leaving for the airport. Carry a leash with you so you can walk your pet before you check in and after you arrive at your destination. Doing so will help your pet calm down prior to and after the flight.
Arrive at the airport early, but not too early. You will not be allowed to check your pet in more than four hours before the flight. Most airlines recommend arriving two hours before your flight when you’re traveling with your pet. Passengers traveling with pets must check in at the ticket counter. No curbside or self-service check-in is allowed.
A very important thing to consider for pet care is the correct size and type of pet carrier that you will need. Be absolutely sure to check with your airline for the carriers that they allow. Before buying a carrier for your trip, the first thing to consider is the size of the pet carrier you will need. A good place to begin is with your pet’s weight and body size. Pets vary widely in weight, length and height.
Also consider how active your pet is. If you have a busy cat or a playful dog, they might want more room to frolic, even in a pet carrier. If you plan to add a mat or some extra bedding, consider a large carrier for that as well.
Pet carriers come in both soft and hard sided versions and have lots of things to add on: shoulder straps, Sherpa bed inserts, pockets for toys, food or bags and name tags, so your carrier doesn’t get lost at the vet or boarder. For airplane travel or if your pet is large, obviously a rugged plastic pet carrier is the best way to go.
Airlines typically will not accept pets as checked baggage or cargo when the temperature is forecast to exceed 85 degrees or fall below 20 degrees at any location on the animal’s itinerary. Also, many airlines will not accept snub-nosed pets like bulldogs or Persian cats as cargo since they are prone to breathing problems.
Above all, be patient and loving with your pet! They will be stressed by the sudden change in their surroundings. All the new sights and smells could possibly be a sensory overload for them. Pet care for travel is mostly just using good sense and planning for emergencies that could happen along the way. Good luck on your trip!