Travel and pets

By Michelle Barson, KeraVet Bio Staff

Vacations and other getaways often force the question of ‘What to do with the dog?’ and if your household is like mine, we’re not always sure what’s best. I met with Dr. Cherice Roth, KeraVet Bio Lead Medical Advisor, to ask her some of the more common questions surrounding travel and pets.

Do you recommend families take their pets with them or leave them at home?

This ultimately depends on the personality of a pet. Take them with you if they are outgoing and unlikely to be anxious. However, we find that highly anxious pets do better at home with an at-home pet sitter rather than being exposed to travel.

Certainly, puppies and kittens still undergoing vaccines should be left home as you could accidentally expose them to pathogens that their immune system is not quite ready for.

What do you recommend for the nauseas or anxious car rider?

For very mild cases, I recommend diphenhydramine or Dramamine. However, these are not always effective. If that’s the case, I recommend putting your pet on Cerenia.

If the case is severe enough, then I recommend that the pet stay home. Depending on the breed, vomiting and anxiety are things that can be avoided if you know the trigger. If the trigger is traveling in the car then the right thing to do is leave that pet home with a sitter.

What should pet parents look for in a pet sitter?

  • Are they comfortable medicating pets? Even if the pet isn’t on medication, can they do it if something happens and they need medication?
  • If an emergency happens, can they transport your pet somewhere?
  • How will they update you about how your pet is doing?
  • How often will they let you know how the pet is doing?
  • Are they planning to stay at your home or just come out and visit? If it’s the latter, what times should you expect them there?
  • Are they bringing guests with them to your home? If so, this could open up potential liability/risk for you and your family as they may not be as pet-friendly as the person you hired.

Find out more about pet sitters by visiting the Pet Sitters International website here.

For the pet parent that boards their pet, we dove a little deeper on how to make it the best experience possible for your fur baby.

What do you recommend looking for in a pet boarding facility?

  1. I always recommend walking through the boarding facility and be on the lookout for unusual or bad smells. For instance, does it smell like urine? Feces? If so, there could there be a cleaning or disinfecting issue that could lead to infections coming home with your pet.
  2. Ensure this facility requires vaccines, deworming, or flea tick and heartworm prevention. This is important, especially for keeping your pet well, but if your pet isn’t vaccinated, they’re mingling with pets that may not be vaccinated. Then you are putting them in danger.
  3. I highly recommend facilities that allow for exercise as opposed to sitting in the kennel all day. Of course, this depends on the stress level and behavior of the pet.

How can a family make their pet more comfortable at a boarding facility?

If your pet can be trusted with toys, send in a reliable, inedible and hard-to-destroy toy for them to play with. If your pet cannot be trusted with toys, then provide other things that make them feel at home. For instance, a common collar or their bedding from home. If there are multiple pets in the household that need to be boarded, and they get along, I highly recommend seeking out facilities that can room them together, so they don’t feel alone.

How do you recommend appropriately preparing your pet to stay at the facility?

You want to be very upfront and honest with the facility about the needs of your pet. For instance if they are anxious or food aggressive; being clear about those things ahead of time can be very important.

Another important aspect is whether the pet needs to be medicated. If you are gone when it’s time to get over their next round of flea, tick and heartworm prevention, consider sending it with or giving it early, but other medications should also be discussed.

You should have an emergency veterinary service you are comfortable with and trust and relay that information to the facility.

I’m also a huge fan of having pets go and visit the facility so that the first time they come, is not you are leaving them by themselves.

There is an association for boarding and pet services, which can may be useful as you being your search for the right boarding facility. Learn more by clicking here.

Learn more about KeraVet Bio Lead Medical Advisor, , Dr. Cherice Roth, MS, DVM, by visiting her on LinkedIn.