Courtesy of Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society

It’s getaway time! A long journey or short weekend with a furry, scaly, or feathery friend in tow can be tons of fun. However, to avoid any less than desirable outcomes, some simple planning can go a long way to ensure a smooth trip.

Pre-Travel. Pets may not share our human wanderlust. If you have a pet who is perfectly content rolling with the whole process, congratulations, and advance to Pet’s Suitcase. Alternatively, if you think you pet may need anxiety or sedation medications during the trip, plan ahead. Traveling may increase stress, making a well-thought-out plan important for everyone’s comfort. Natural anxiety-relief products, available from your veterinarian or pet store, can help take the edge off. Try these prior to your trip, so you know how your pet responds. Allow for hiccups and delays for your anticipated travel time.

Pet’s Suitcase. Pack enough of your pet’s routine medications and food for the trip. Bring poop bags for Fido’s bathroom breaks, along with a water bowl for when you’re stopping for a cup of coffee or a soft drink. A copy of medical records and current vaccination certificates help provide baseline medical information if an emergency arises. A pet’s favorite toys and bedding can help ease anxiety by providing familiar smells along the way. Pack extra leashes and collars in case your items break or get lost along the way. Pet towels for dirty or wet feet are also helpful.

Chip Check. Be sure your pet is microchipped, and your personal contact information is up to date. If your pet isn’t chipped, consider this before departing. External tags can sometimes break away from your pet’s collar, and the tag should be clearly readable, not worn down, and indicate the pet is chipped.

Plan Your Route. Prior to your journey, research 24/7 veterinary emergency care centers. Dropping cell phone pins every few hours on your route gives you a plan if the unthinkable happens and your pet needs immediate medical care. Also, remember to bring your own vet’s contact information.

Road Safety. Pets can be distracting during the trip. Even a minor fender-bender can result in injuries. Secure your pets with appropriate pet restraints. Crates can help reduce their ability to disturb you while driving and may reduce injuries from life-threatening to minor in the event of an accident.

Destination Details. Confirm your pets are truly welcome at hotels or sites where you plan to stay, checking any size restrictions. While “pet-friendly” may be noted, the tone may change when you show up with a large or giant breed dog.

While family trips are great, they can also cause unexpected stress even under the best conditions. Pets may be happier staying home, with a friend, or at a kennel while you enjoy your trip. A little planning definitely goes a long way!

The Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society is comprised of 75+ small animal hospitals and 220+ practitioners in Erie and Niagara counties. The society advances public awareness and understanding of appropriate and compassionate pet health care, veterinary services, and the veterinary profession.