Pet Health: How to Keep Your Pet Safe While Evacuating

Don't Leave Me BehindNatural disasters are never to be taken lightly. With the after-effects of the tsunami and earthquake that rocked Japan on March 11th it has brought pet owners all over the world to consider their pets safety in the event of a similar situation or a necessary evacuation. Here are some tips from the ASPCA on pet emergency preparedness.

Be prepared BEFORE the emergency:

The time to prepare for an emergency evacuation is now, not while it is happening. No matter how severe the situation, it is better to over-prepare than under-prepare. Here are some tips to minimize evacuation time in emergency situations:

• Make sure your pet can be identified. This means a collar and ID tag at minimum. The tag should contain the pets name, owners name, telephone number, and urgent medical needs. If your pet has a carrier this information should be provided on it as well.

• Know your evacuation route ahead of time. Keep a list of pet-friendly accommodations and boarding options outside of the danger zone.

• Keep an emergency kit with a weeks worth of food and medication along with a leash as close to the exit as possible.

• The ASPCA recommends using a Rescue Alert Sticker in the case of an evacuation. Make sure it is visible as it will allow Rescue Workers to know that pets are inside your home in the case that you aren’t. You can get a copy of the sticker and an emergency kit for free here.

Promote a stress-free and safe transport

In the case of a sudden crisis make sure your pet is being transported in a safe and secure manner. Smaller dogs and cats should be transported in a protective airline approved carrier and larger pets should be transported in a cargo crate or protective harness. If your pet is prone to anxiety, consider using a pet calmer to help ease stress. It is never recommended to sedate your pet.

Arrange a safe place for you and your pet

In the event of an emergency evacuation, make plans to stay in a safe and secure area away from the danger zone. This should go without saying but don’t leave your pet stranded. Don’t assume that your pet will be fine alone in an emergency. Remember if it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets. If for some reason you cannot take your pet with you, here is a list of alternatives:

• Contact your local animal shelter and see if they provide or know of emergency boarding for your pet.
• Ask your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding kennels and facilities.
• Ask a friend or a relative outside the evacuated area if they are willing to take your pet in.

For the sake of you and your pets health, we hope you’re never put into an emergency situation. However, being prepared for unforeseeable circumstances may help save you or your pets life.

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Pet Health: Getting Your Pet in Shape to Travel

Fat Cat - get your pet in shape for travelHere’s the skinny: Healthier pets are better travelers. Getting your pet in shape to travel will require lots of lead time so start changing feeding habits early on.

A shocking report was recently issued by Pet Obesity Provention states that over half of the dog and cat population in the United States. is overweight. UK pets suffer with the same problem.

If your pet weighs over 15% of its ideal weight, it qualifies as overweight

Last year, pet owners with one unnamed insurance company paid over 25 million dollars to vets to treat obesity-related issues. Why? Because pets who are overweight or obese are at greater risk of a range of serious health problems such as diabetes, joint damage, ruptured cruciate ligaments, increased blood pressure, urinary incontinence, skin and hair coat issues, digestive issues. These are all common problems that affect obese pets.

Overweight pets are also prone to a poorer quality of life and less ability to exercise like they should.

Getting your pet in shape to travel is a very smart thing to do for a variety of reasons. Here are just a few of them.

Better chance of traveling the cabin

For example, if your pet is a smaller breed (under 19” in length) whose average weight is around 11 to 15 pounds, they will be able to travel in the cabin area of a plane as long as your airline pet policies allow for that. However, if a pet from the same breed is obese and weighs 20+ pounds your pet will not make the weight requirement for in-cabin travel. This especially pertains to international travel where the weight of a pet plus its carrier is checked more carefully.

Less breathing problems

Most dogs pant to regulate body temperature (since the sweat glands in their paws are basically inefficient). When a dog pants, heat escapes through the moisture of  its tongue, mouth and throat. As it exhales during panting, the moist air evaporates and keeps your pet cool.

When a dog is overweight, regulating body temperature becomes difficult and heavy panting occurs. Heavy panting causes stress, anxiety and dehydration. It can also lead to heat stroke.

Better chance your pet will withstand the rigors of traveling and a new environment

A healthy pet will have increased stamina, a better tolerance of weather conditions as well as better breathing capabilities. All of these factors play an important role in adjusting your pet to travel to new places.

What you can do to get your pet in shape to travel

Depending on their level of exercise, the amount of calories your cat or dog needs can vary greatly. Obviously, if you have an active breed of dog or cat, they will need more calories than a sedentary one. Here are tips to control your pet’s weight:

  • Give love, not treats – reward your pet’s good behavior with love and attention, not high caloric treats.
  • Make them work for their food. Many toy manufacturers make toys that will distribute food slowly such as Kong toys. Find a food bowl with a maze that will slow your dog’s feeding time down.
  • Give your pet water with food, especially dry food. Water will create a  feeling of fullness.
  • Add vegetables to your pet’s food. Green beans and some carrots will add bulk but few calories to their dinner.
  • Slowly limit the amount of food that you give your pet. Slowly.
  • Read the label and be aware of the ingredients in your pet’s chow. More protein which takes longer to digest and less carbs which are more easily turned to fat are best.
  • Try speaking to your veterinarian about putting your pet on a low fat diet.
  • Get out and get going. The more exercise that your pet experiences, the easier it will be to lose weight.

Many vets consider animal obesity to be the most preventable pet health crisis facing the United States and the United Kingdom. As with preparing in advance to acclimate your pet to its crate or carrier is important, so is getting your pet in shape to travel.

Pet Travel: Traveling via Cargo with a Snub-Nosed Pet

There are certain precautions every pet owner must take when your pet is traveling in the cargo area of a plane. You want to make sure your pet is acclimated to the crate, properly hydrated so your pet travels as safe and as comfortably as possible.

For the snub nosed pet owner, things can get risky. Here are dogbreeds that can be considered as snub-nosed depending on your airline: Affenpinscher, American Bully, American Pit Bull Terrier/Pit Bull, American Staffordshire Terrier/”Amstaff,” Belgian Malinois, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Brussels Griffon, Bulldog, American Bulldog, English Bulldog, French Bulldog, Old English Bulldogges, Shorty Bulldogs, Spanish Alano/Spanish Bulldog/Alano Espanol, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chow Chow, English Toy Spaniel/Prince Charles Spaniel, Japanese Chin/Japanese Spaniel, Lhasa Apso, Mastiff, American Mastiff, Boerboel/South African Mastiff, Bullmastiff, Ca de Bou/Mallorquin Mastiff, Cane Corso/Italian Mastiff, Dogo Argentino/Argentinian Mastiff, Dogue de Bordeaux/French Mastiff, English Mastiff, Fila Brasileiro/Brazilian Mastiff/Cao de Fila, Indian Mastiff/Alangu, Kangal/Turkish Kangal, Neapolitan Mastiff/Mastino Napoletano, Pakastani Mastiff/Bully Kutta, Pyrenean Mastiff, Presa Canario/Perro de Presa Canario/Dogo Canario/Canary Mastiff, Spanish Mastiff / Mastin Espanol, Tibetan Mastiff, Tosa/Tosa Ken/Tosa Inu/Japanese Mastiff/Japanese Tosa, Pekingese, Pug, Dutch Pug, Japanese Pug, Shar-Pei/Chinese Shar-Pei, Shih-Tzu, Staffordshire Bull Terrier/”Staffys,” and Tibetan Spaniel.

Also, the following cat breeds are also snub-nosed: Exotic Shorthair, Himalayan and Persian.

These short nosed (also called “brachycephalic”) pets have difficulty breathing and acclimating to certain weather conditions. Even though these pets are considered “at risk”, taking necessary precautions and using the proper flight itinerary on a pet-safe, pet friendly airline will help reduce the chances of an incident. Below is an airline chart to help pet owners who are considering traveling via cargo with their sub-nosed breed.

Most airlines require a health certificate within 10 days prior to your travel date for pets flying in the cargo hold. (International immigration requirements also apply if traveling outside country borders)

Weather restrictions: When temperatures exceed 80-85 degrees F (27-30 degrees C) in any airport on your pet’s itinerary, the airlines restrict animals that will be accepted as checked baggage or cargo. These restrictions are enforced for the safety of your pet. The restrictions are as follows:

Summer Heat Embargo: May 15 through September 15

Winter Embargo: November 1st through March 31st

Delta: Delta has changed their banned breed policies and will no longer transport dog or cat breeds considered as snub-nosed in the cargo hold.

United: United will no longer transport snub-nosed pets in the cargo hold. See their snub-nosed breed restrictions here..

American Airlines: American Airlines has issued a permanent embargo on all breeds of snub-nosed dogs and cats.

Frontier Airlines: Frontier no longer offers checked baggage or air cargo services for live animals. If you want to fly with your pet on this airlines, it must fit in an airline-compliant pet carrier that will fit under the seat in front of you.

Alaskan Airlines: snub-nosed breeds are no longer permitted to fly Alaska Airlines in the cargo hold.

Lufthansa: snub-nosed breeds will be transported as long as temperatures do not exceed 75 degrees F anywhere on the itinerary.

KLM Airlines: KLM will only fly snub-nosed breeds as air cargo.  Four breeds of snub nosed dogs will no longer be allowed in the cargo hold on KLM aircraft: English Bulldog, French Bulldog, Boston Terrier, and Pug

When your snub-nosed dog or cat are flying in the cargo hold, here are tips to keep them safe:

• Use a pet crate that is one size larger than is normally required
• Use a crate with ventilation on 4 sides. (If the kennel does not have ventilation on 4 sides, modify the kennel by drilling 7 holes in the rear top and 7 holes in the rear bottom of the kennel using a 3/4 inch keyhole bit).
• Acclimate your pet to its crate by letting the animal spend time in the kennel for several days before its departure
• Do not place food in the kennel during the flight, just water.
• Provide plenty of water to your pet. Frozen water bottles with tiny holes punched in the sides make a great watering tool for several hours when placed in the crate’s watering dish. Find the largest pet crate water bowl that you can.

It is always wise to call your airlines when making your reservation and disclose the breed of your dog. Also, it is a good idea to let the Captain know that you are traveling with a pet. Preparing in advance is an important part of pet travel.

More information on airline pet policies.

Ten Nice Things to do for your Pet for Valentines Day

February 14th is a day for love. While humans may like to celebrate Valentine’s Day with chocolate, flowers, and fine dining, your pet would probably prefer a fun day with you. So, what would your pet value most on a day for expressing love? Here are some ideas for returning the love that your pet shows you every day.

Nice Long Walks: Do you and your dog have a favorite pet-friendly beach or dog park? Some outdoor exercise will surely put a smile on your dogs face this Valentine’s Day. Who knows–maybe your canine will find a valentine, too.

Pet Treats: You can never go wrong with some tasty treats for your pets, just make sure they are the right kind. Remember, absolutely no candy (especially chocolate) for your pet on Valentine’s Day. Also, consider some healthy treats. Your pets probably won’t notice the difference, but you will when you pick them up.

Maybe it’s time for a bath? Nobody likes being stinky and this includes your pets. What better way to kick off Valentine’s Day then with a clean pet? If you don’t think you can tackle the task, take him/her to a local groomer. They will love you for it.

New Blankets and/or Toys! If you want to see your pets’ true excitement this Valentine’s Day, go with a new toy or blanket. Not only will they show you immediate satisfaction, with the right toy they will be entertained for the next few hours. Nothing says “Be My Valentine” like a heart-shaped chew toy for your dog or a blanket for your cat.

Belly Rubs! You’d be hard pressed to find a dog that doesn’t like a belly rub; even most cats love them too! This is a great (and inexpensive) way to show your pet appreciation. After a belly rub they might not know what Valentine’s Day is…..but they will sure love it!

Pet-Friendly Restaurants: Even if you have a romantic dinner planned for you and your significant other, don’t forget that your pooch probably wants to go too. If you can settle for outside dining, most restaurants can accommodate for our four-legged friends. Please check prior to making a reservation.

Pet Shopping Spree: Spend time with your pampered pet on a shopping spree at your favorite pet retailer or boutique. Try to find things that your dog or cat doesn’t already have but need such as a pet bed or something cozy to call their own. Remember, you don’t always have to settle for treats.

Cute Pet Portraits: Remember this special day forever by having a one-of-a-kind pet portrait made of your pet. Whether it is funny, serious, or artistic it will be a memory you can look onto forever.

Annual Vet Checkup: This might not be exactly the way your pet wants to spend this special day, but it will definitely give you peace of mind. After a quick checkup, offer him/her another one of these activities to make it up.

Take a Trip: Going out of town with your pet is a fun way to bond outside of the home. Whether you go down the road or somewhere exotic, there are many dog-friendly hotels that are more than happy to accommodate you and your pet.

Spend lots of time with your pets and have fun together. It doesn’t matter if your Valentine’s Day is simple or extravagant; the purpose is to show your pet how much you love and care….they’ll return your love tenfold.

A review of Best Friends Pet Resort in Orlando Florida

Best Friends in Orlando Florida is an all inclusive Pet Resort that features grooming, boarding and play facilities inside the world famous Walt Disney World. Disney World is known for its “extravagant attention to detail” and this 50,000 square foot pet resort doesn’t disappoint.

The outside of the pet resort is filled with bright green artificial grass, oversized fire hydrants and doggy bones and mesh gating so on-lookers could easily view what activities the dogs were getting into. Inside you will find the gift shop, resort front desk, and plenty of paw-shaped windows to peak in at animal activities. All of the resorts play facilities were easily accessible for pet owners to watch their pets run and play.

The main attraction at Best Friends Pet Resort must be the outside play area which includes 4,500 square feet of ball chasing, tail wagging and Frisbee throwing fun topped off with a water jet system exclusively for pups. What’s the best part you ask? All of these amenities conveniently surround the lobby for easy accessibility.

The lodging was setup in three different sections. One section was for dogs (which had standard suites and luxury suites), a kitty corner, and a small section for pocket-sized pets. A cool feature included with both dog suites is patio access. Patio access is usually (weather permitting) unlimited and if your pooch got the luxury suite, it’s private. The “kitty city” was wisely constructed in a separate wing of the facility far away from the sights and sounds of the dogs. Up to 24 kitties can room in either two room or four room condos and have no problems seeing Disney World through the large individual windows they are provided. The pocket pet section is relatively small, but gave a climate controlled “safe-haven” for hamsters, guinea pigs, and other smaller pets. Unfortunately, they do not accommodate for venomous snakes or primates of any kind.

The pet resort staff is friendly and responsible when handling pets and the check-in/pickup process is a breeze. Also, at the end of the trip guests are provided with a “report card” explaining what activities your pet engaged in and how their time was spent at Disney World. So next time you planning your trip to Disney World, don’t leave your pet behind!

Pet Travel Question: Is there anyway I can fly to the UK with a pet in the cabin?

LondonPet Travel gets many people who ask the same question: is there anyway to fly to the UK with my pet in the cabin with me?

The answer is, unfortunately, no. Due to airline regulations, currently there is no way you can fly into the the UK with a pet animal in the cabin of the aircraft unless it is a service or emotional support animal and your airline has a program in place to support them. This is a requirement of the airline. It is not a requirement of APHA or DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Affairs).

One alternative to avoid this requirement would be to fly with your pet in the cabin to Pairs, take a train to Calais and then take a ferry or take Le Shuttle across the Chunnel. There are several ferry services that serve the northern coast of France including P&O, Brittany Ferries, and Celtic Ferries (to Ireland). Remember, thought, that many of these ferries do not accept pets in winter months and most of them require that your pet travel in a car. Le Shuttle also shares this requirement. There are services that will pick you and your pet up in Calais like Folkestown Taxi and Pet Movers.

You can also consider flying to Amsterdam, taking a train to Rotterdam and taking Stena Lines or P&O to Hull. At this writing, Stena will accept foot traffic and, although the ride is longer, we hear it is very pleasant.

If you have further questions, please send us an email to or post them here. We always answer your questions promptly.

Pet Travel: Change in Requirements for Pets Traveling to Switzerland

News on pet travel to Switzerland: effective immediately, pets traveling to Switzerland from countries with a high incidence of rabies no longer require an import permit if they are traveling cargo.

Additionally, Switzerland is also enforcing the requirement that your pet’s ISO microchip must be implanted prior to vaccination. If your pet does not have a microchip, then your pet must be revaccinated after the microchip is inserted.

Pet Travel: Keeping your Pet Safe During Cargo Travel

Keeping Your Pet Safe in the Cargo HoldLet’s face it, as pet owners we would all love to travel side by side with our pets during air travel. Unfortunately if your furry companion is over 22 inches in length and/or over 20 pounds, you’re probably out of luck. The only other feasible option would be cargo transport but you won’t subject your pet to that type of torture. Well, there are many misconceptions about cargo transport. Here are just a few:

Myth: I wouldn’t put my pooch in that dark hole with baggage stuffed on top of him/her.

Fact: Most people don’t realize that the pet cargo area is separate from the baggage compartment and is lighted during travel.

Myth: My pet will freeze or suffer heat exhaustion in the cargo area of an airplane.

Fact: The pet cargo compartment is temperature and pressure controlled just like the human cabin. The summer/winter extreme temperature embargo does exist but only pertains to tarmac temperatures and can be circumvented by the airlines using climate controlled vans to transport the pets to the airplane.

Myth: Airline employees don’t know how to handle my pet.

Fact: All airline employees who handle your pet must be certified to do so. Also, they are instructed never to open crates or fraternize with animals.

All of these myths couldn’t be farther from the truth. The fact is, millions of pets fly safely and happily every year in cargo without any problems and if your pet has been certified healthy to travel by your veterinarian you should have nothing to worry about. Here are some tips to keeping your pet safe while he/she is traveling in the cargo area of the plane.

Make sure your crate is IATA compliant: This means the crate must be ventilated on all four sides, have a waterproof bottom and a spring loaded locking crate door. Also, take the time to make sure the crate is the correct size. If you’re pet looks crammed in the crate or uncomfortable in any way you could be denied at the gate. Find IATA compliantpet crates

Use metal hardware! To be honest, the quality of the plastic hardware that comes with most crates is adequate at best. Do yourself (and your pet) a favor and purchase some metal hardware for your crate. Even though it’s a rare occurrence, crates with plastic hardware have been known to separate. Give yourself peace of mind that your crate will stay together and get the metal hardware.

Identification must be present and visible: This is a no-brainer. In the case of an emergency make sure you leave a picture, your emergency info and your veterinarian’s info zip-tied to the crate.

Plenty of water: You want to make sure your pet has plenty of water before, during and after air travel.

No tranquilizing: This can seriously harm your pet during air travel. Tranquilizing will affect a dog’s ability to pant and therefore regulate body temperature and/or inhibit their ability to breathe. Happy Traveler is a great healthy alternative.

Be proactive: During the reservation process ask as many questions as you need. Know the airlines pet policies because they all have different rules and regulations. Verify throughout the process that your pet will be boarded first and unloaded last. Also, when you board the plane let the captain and flight attendants know that your best bud is traveling via cargo.

More information on air cargo pet travel

Traveling With a Pet by Car or Air: Know the Basics

Pet TravelThe pet travel season is right around the corner. The time to prepare is now. Here are some basics to travel with a pet by car or air.

Travel by Car: If this is Fido’s first car ride, don’t start with a long journey. Start off slow, particularly with an errand that doesn’t involve you leaving the car (Ex. Drive-up bank teller). Running errands with your dog in the car is also a good way to teach him/her every car ride doesn’t have to end up at the veterinarian, groomer, or boarding kennel. Always remember to keep your dog secure in the car with a pet safety harness or cargo crate. For longer journeys, plan to stop every 3-5 hours to let your dog stretch the legs and do its “business.”

Travel by Air: Let your pooch familiarize him/herself with an airline crate or in-cabin carrier on its own. Never force them into a crate or carrier. Also, it is very important NOT to use these travel tools as “scolding mechanisms.” Don’t give your dog the impression that this is where he/she will go for timeout.

If you’re pet is flying in a cargo crate: If you didn’t purchase metal hardware for your crate, this would be a wise investment. More and more airlines are requiring metal hardware over plastic fasteners. A small investment will give you assurance that your pet will not break through the crate and become missing. Although it rarely happens, nobody wants to lose their pet this way. Better safe than sorry.

Start off by leaving a favorite towel, toys, etc. in the open crate for your pooch to explore. In time, close the door and take Fido on various trips in the car. This will help simulate the air travel process as much as possible. Please remember, water is extremely important for a pet traveling by air. Since you won’t be able to check mid-flight, please make sure your pooch stays hydrated with spill-proof water, a crate water bottle, or a cage crock prior to take-off.

If you’re pet is flying in an in-cabin carrier: No matter what in-cabin pet carrier you choose, make sure your pet will fit in it. Your pet must be able to stand up and turn around in the carrier. The number one reason pets get denied at the gate is improper sizing. Most airlines have an 8-9” maximum height requirement for under the seat, so consider a flexible carrier. If you’re pooch is over 11 inches and weighs over 15 pounds standing on all fours, he/she is more than likely traveling in a cargo crate. Also, however tempting it may be, do NOT remove your pet from its carrier. A loose pet in the cabin can be very unpleasant for everyone.
Following just a few common sense rules about traveling with a pet can make the trip safer and happier for you both. For more information on traveling with a pet, see our website,

Pet Travel: Teaching Your Dog Good Travel Manners

Good mannered dogA dog is one of the best travel companions you can have. They never complain or become backseat drivers. However, it is important to teach your dog good manners prior to travel. The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) has declared January National Train your Dog Month and what better time to train your dog to be a good traveler? Follow these pointers to make the most out of traveling with your dog.

Basic obedience training

• Teach your dog basic commands like sit, stay, come, and heel. It is essential for any pet traveler to recognize these verbal commands from the owner. These commands will not only build mutual respect between you and your dog, they will help prevent unacceptable behavior such as excessive barking, jumping, digging, etc. Make sure to go slow and work on one command at a time.

• Leash training: if you do not walk your pet on a leash, you will need to start. Under your supervision, clip the leash to the collar and let your dog drag it around the house. This will help your dog realize the leash is nothing to be feared. Next, pick a time that is normally quiet, such as early morning, and head out the door. Start slow, the key is to have your dog walk beside you. (this is a sign of dominance) If your pooch starts to pull you, stop immediately. Do not let them pull you. This will only reinforce the habit. Also, do not yank him over to you by the leash. Instead, reward him for properly walking beside you with treats or praise.

Socializing vs. Restraining

It is important to know your dog’s temperament, especially if you plan on traveling with them. Remember even with “friendly” pets, there are times to socialize and there are times to restrain.

Socializing – Try to socialize your dog as early as possible. Under close supervision, watch how your dog interacts with different people, pets and places. Always choose appropriate social interactions for your dog, especially in the beginning. For example, an off-leash dog park would probably not be a good starting place. Make sure to reward your furry friend for good behavior. All of these interactions will help when traveling.

Restraining your Pet – A traveling dog will run into many different circumstances where they will need to be restrained. If you run into an aggressive pet or someone who is not pet friendly, you must be able to control your dog. This is where your obedience commands will really pay off. Work on your commands when other pets are around (especially heeling). This will help your dog focus his attention on you, the leader. If you ever have doubts about a situation, restrain your pet.

Your Dog and Unfamiliar Circumstances

When your pet is traveling they will run into many unfamiliar circumstances. To prepare for these circumstances, introduce your pet to as many new environments as possible prior to travel. Here are some ideas:

• Leave them with a relative or friend for a day or two.
• Take them to a pet friendly restaurant and/or hotel.
• Let them join in for car rides.

All of these preparations will help your pet cope with the anxiousness and stress that comes with unfamiliarity. Remember; teach your dog good travel manners prior to traveling. You don’t want to battle with these issues when you’re miles from home.

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