Pet Safety on the Road


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More people than ever before are traveling with a pet or multiple pets. According to a survey by the American Pet Products Association, 37 percent of pet owners travel with their pets every year, which is up by 19 percent compared to ten years ago.

The definition of travel ranges from car rides that take just a few hours to cross country road trips to plane travel, and even by bus or rail.

The problem is that we don’t first ask the pets about their views on such outings. Most certainly, the pets want to be with us – but may not have bargained for car or air travel (which are the most common).

If you’re unsure that your pet may be anxious or you know that the pet will be fearful about a car ride, you can condition your best friend to tolerate or even enjoy the ride, and practice can make a difference (obviously this isn’t possible regarding air travel).

There are various nutraceutical products (a hybrid of nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical) which may help take off the edge, as can pheromones. For pets with a more profound fear, a pharmaceutical may be the best bet. This one reason to consult with a veterinary professional before departing.

As for airplane travel, many animal welfare organizations recommend against pets traveling in cargo holds of airplanes. Pets small enough to fit into a carrier can travel on some airlines for a fee.

Vaccines for Travel

There’s another reason to see your veterinarian – and that is to ensure your pet is up to date on needed vaccines before you travel. Unless your dog is an absolute wallflower who never interacts – ever – with other dogs, a vaccination for the canine influenza virus (dog flu) might be a good idea. If your dog happens to be due for Bordetella (kennel cough) protection, ask your veterinarian about pairing up for protection for your best friend against both dog flu and Bordetella.  Today we know that Bordetella is just part of a complex of upper respiratory diseases in dogs known as Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex, so protection is really important.

Vaccines for canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies are considered core or necessary vaccines to be current in dogs.

Unfortunately, according to popular news reports, leptospirosis is on the rise. Lepto can not only be potentially deadly to dogs but may be passed onto people.  Lepto is a bacterial infection which dogs can get from urine of infected rats, raccoons, opossums, even infected dogs – as well as other species.  The infected animal piddles in a puddle to a much larger body of fresh water – and the unvaccinated dog takes a drink or walks through and then grooms and may then become infected. Ask your veterinarian about Nobivac® Lepto4, the only 4-way leptospirosis vaccine, specifically shown to be effective against disease, mortality and urinary shedding. The Nobivac EDGE® Lepto4 vaccine is even available in smaller (0.5 mL) doses that deliver full-sized protection in half the volume (which can make it a more comfortable vaccine for a dog to get).

Speaking of which, it turns out Nobivac offers cat-specific vaccines that provide multi-year protection and combo options that require fewer trips to the vet and fewer injections overall.

Core cat vaccines are FHV-1 (feline herpesvirus), FCV (feline calicivirus), FPV (Feline Panleukopenia Virus), rabies, and FeLV (feline leukemia for cats younger than 1-year old).

Be sure to take your pet’s medications with you as you hit the road.

Pet ID’s

All pets (even cats) should wear an ID tag and have a microchip. Don’t forget to register your name and contact info with the microchip provider. A microchip that isn’t registered with current information will not be as helpful if your pet is lost.

For road trips, plan out pet friendly accommodations in advance. If you believe your pet may be destructive in your absence, assuming your pet is crate trained, bring a crate with you.

If you are traveling more than several hours by car, allow the pup an opportunity to stretch his or her legs and use the restroom outside. Most cats can go several hours without using the litter box, but at some point nature will call. Either secure your cat outside with a leash and harness or just place the litter box on a back seat, and let kitty do her business. And don’t change litter brands just because you’re in another town.

Of course, pets should travel securely in cars, in a crate or carrier, or harnessed in a travel seat.

Safety comes first, and then fun with all family members.