NEWS

How to travel safely and smartly with your pets this summer

07/04/2015 01:00 EDT | Updated 07/04/2016 05:59 EDT
Summer is in full swing and we've officially launched into the holiday season.

For those who'd like to bring their four-legged family members along, veterinarian Ted Morris offers these tips for safe and smart summer travel.

1. Know the rules

"The number of hoops that you need to jump through to get into certain countries with your pets is quite surprising to a lot of people," Morris said.

A vaccine certificate is required for those bringing pets into the United States and other countries require more complicated paperwork. Make sure you're clear on the country-specific rules before you book any arrangements.

2. Double check your reservations

When it comes to booking accommodation, travel and rental vehicles, make sure those agencies knows you plan to bring a pet and are prepared to accommodate your pet. 

Confirm that your transportation carrier will permit you to take your pet with you and have them spell out the conditions.

"In the summer, a lot of airlines won't let you fly with pets when it's above a certain temperature, just because they know that they're going to be on the tarmac for a certain amount of time and they don't want them to get overheated," Morris said.

Be sure to check the day of as well, added Morris, as carriers can make last-minute changes and travellers can be left in the lurch.

3. Ease your pet into travelling

If your pet isn't used to travelling or being in the car, Morris suggests taking your pet on quick trips in the weeks beforehand.

"Pop them in the car. Maybe even drive around the corner."

Something as simple as turning the car on, then off, and then rewarding them with a treat can be helpful, Morris said.  

"Let them know the car's not this scary place and they can actually have a really happy time in there."

This will also tip you off if your pet is prone to carsickness.

4. Test any medication or sedation ahead of time

Morris says sedation is a good option for some pets, but warns pet owners to be cautious and plan ahead. 

"Some pets, if they just need the edge taken off, you can usually get by with just using an antihistamine that will sedate them a little bit, or even some Gravol will be enough."

Prescription drugs should be tested at least once before the trip, as dosage varies widely from animal to animal and can sometimes have a negative or opposite effect, he added.

"Instead of having this nice, calm, relaxed animal in the back seat, you have this devil who's destroying everything.

"It's very important to test the drugs the day before you travel so you can figure out all these problems before they pop up."

However, Morris cautions against sedation if flying as the animal cargo area is unsupervised and not always as well pressurized as the human area. Sedatives will lower your pet's blood pressure and increase their risk of passing out, Morris said.

Finally, if you can't take your pets with you, consider alternatives such as a boarding facility or a house sitter.  

To hear the full interview with Ted Morris, listen to the audio labeled: Pet travel tips.

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