Why You Should Never Leave Your Dog or Cat in a Disaster

Do not leave your pet in a natural disasterAdopting or buying a dog or cat is a bit like adopting a child. They will give you unconditional love and loyalty; they will be an important part of your family, and they will provide true companionship to you and your family.

Yet pet owners should not forget that dogs and cats need to be fed, loved, disciplined and protected. They will depend on you to keep them safe for their lifetime, especially in uncertain times.

Perhaps it is a drop in barometric pressure, but animals know when a change in weather is imminent.  They can feel your concern and see a change in your schedule. They can hear the noise of the wind as the speed and intensity increases.

On a personal note, despite being 2 blocks from an evacuation zone, we decided not to evacuate as our home is hardened for storms and we did not want to remove our dogs from their home. For 18 hours, our dogs lay on our feet and looked at us with worried faces while the wild winds and rain of Hurricane Irma pelted our windows. It was difficult to comfort them despite all the attention that we showed them.

They could not understand what was going on and were visibly disturbed. If we went to the next room, they went to the next room right on our heels. They followed us to the bathroom, to the kitchen and to the bedroom all day and night. When we snuck them outside between weather bands for a bathroom break, they strained on their leashes with wild eyes wondering where they should run. (We did have them on leashes.)

We got through the storm together and, we would not have done it any other way.

It is very important that pet owners must have a plan to deal with disasters such as hurricanes, floods or fires, and this plan must include their pet. You should never leave your dog or cat alone in times of disasters.

What can you do to prepare should you need to leave your home?

Call your local government and identify pet friendly shelters as they fill up quickly. Find pet friendly hotels in areas that are deemed safe and make reservations early.

Get a pet crate or pet carrier for your pet if they will be with you in a shelter as shelters require that your pet be contained during their stay. Be sure you have good pet pads to keep your pet dry and clean. You may also want to bring your pet to the hotel in a crate or carrier to keep it safe and secure.

Put a used t-shirt in your dog or cat’s crate so they will feel comfort with your scent.

Bring your pet’s leash and be sure your contact information is on a tag on your pet’s collar.

Bring at least 4-5 days supply of food and also a food and water bowl.

Bring all of your pet’s medication and a copy of your pet’s rabies certificate if it does not have a rabies tag.

Bring a chew toy or a few more of your pet’s toys to help keep it occupied.

Bring a spare towel for easy clean ups.

What to do if you need to evacuate and cannot take your pet?

Ask friends or relatives in areas not threatened by the crisis whether they can care for your pet during the disaster. Drive them if you can and relocate them well in advance.

If you elect to fly, your pet can accompany you, so make reservations early and make sure your pet is fit to fly with a visit to your vet for a health certificate.

The very last resort is to surrender your dog or cat to a shelter. Although it is hard to understand how a pet owner could choose this option, it is certainly better than abandoning them in an empty home or, worse yet, in the middle of a storm or fire. Just know that you are giving up your rights to your dog or cat. After surrendering, it will be put up for adoption.

There is no excuse for leaving your pet with no means to protect itself during disasters. Pet owners take on the responsibility to care for their dog or cat for its lifetime when they get their pet. If they cannot fulfill this commitment, they simply should not get a pet.  Period.

Traveling with Snub-Nosed Dogs or Cats

Snub-nosed pets need special care when travelingTraveling with a snub-nosed pet, whether in the car or in an airplane, can bring added risks that owners of these breeds should know about. These risks have brought on restrictions from many commercial airlines due to the number of snub-nosed dogs involved in incidents when flying in the cargo hold.

Which breeds are affected?

All snub-nosed or flat-faced breeds suffer with some degree of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). This is a condition that results from the foreshortening of the facial skeleton which is a mutation that is present in and required for the selective breeding of many dog breeds. The American Kennel Club identified the following breeds as being snub-nosed early on: Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pekingese, Pugs, Griffon Bruxellois, Japanese Chin, Boston Terrier and Shih Tzu. Of these breeds, Pugs, French Bulldogs and Bulldogs have been found to be most at risk from BOAS.

As studies on breeds with BOAS have become prevalent, other breeds have been identified to be at more moderate risk such as the Affenpinscher, Chow Chow, Lhasa Apso, Shar Pei, Tibetan Spaniel, Rottweiler, Staffordshire Terrier and Pomeranian, and many commercial airlines have also banned them from the cargo hold.

Affected cat breeds are Persian, Himalayan and Exotic Shorthair, as well as Netherlands Dwarf and Lionhead rabbits.

Why do we love them?

Why are these breeds so attractive to pet owners? Perhaps the flattened face takes on more human-like appearance? The bulging eyes that some breeds exhibit are more expressive? The snores remind us of our sleeping habits? Whatever the reason, snub-nosed breeds are in high demand, especially the French Bulldog which just took the place of the Labrador and the most popular breed.

Why is traveling risky for snub-nosed breeds and their crosses?

Because the length of the muzzle is so short in snub-nosed breeds, soft tissue blocks the airways in the nose and throat impeding airflow in dogs or cats at a young age and progressively worsens as the pet ages. Additionally, the condition is aggravated when the dog or cat is exercising or under stress as is the case when traveling. Increased respiratory efforts can lead to a collapse of the airway which is why owners of these breeds must take great care when transporting them.

A snub-nosed dog or cat will have a muzzle length less than half of its cranial length. This measurement is defined as the length from the occipital protuberance (crown of the head) to the stop (base, not tip, of the nose).

Generally, this condition is commonly but not exclusively accompanied by a thicker neck girth, nasal fold, wide chest, extended elbows, snorting, snoring and sleep apnea.

Studies have found that obesity will increase the degree that these breeds will suffer from BOAS. This is why it is really important to keep your pup at its ideal weight if it is to travel.

Crosses of these breeds can be similarly affected. Remember, it is not necessarily whether your pet is a purebred member of these breeds; it is the length of the muzzle and the presence of other snub-nosed characteristics that count.

What can owners of these breeds do to travel safely with their snub-nosed dogs and cats?

Obviously, ground transport is much safer than air transport for these breeds. If this is not possible, then consider the Queen Mary 2 if you need to get to Europe. If flying is the only alternative, then in-cabin is much preferred to cargo transport. If your snub-nosed dog or cat is too large to fly in the cabin and must fly in the cargo hold, then avoid summer months at all cost as higher temperatures increase the amount of breathing that your dog or cat must do to keep cool.

Hydration is incredibly important and can’t be stressed enough. Whether your snub-nosed dog or cat is traveling by car or in the air, it must have adequate hydration available to it.

If you are driving, keep the air conditioning running and the windows up so that the air in the vehicle is cool. Stop often and make sure to offer your pet water every time you stop.

If you are flying with your pet in the cabin, be sure and get a bottle of water after passing security and use a bottle top or ask for a glass of ice from the flight attendant. Try offering it to your pet by extending your hand in the carrier being sure not to let your pet escape.

If your pet is flying as air cargo, get the largest water bowl you can find to attach to the crate door, fill it with water the night before you leave and freeze it. You can find large pet crate water bowls by clicking here. You can also consider training your dog or cat to use a water bottle as well. Confirm that your airline will check your pet’s water bowl during layovers.

Be sure and plan ahead when you travel with a snub-nosed pet. Acclimating it to its carrier or crate will cause less stress on travel day and make it easier for both of you to enjoy your trip.

You can find more information about snub-nosed pet studies here.

Traveling with Your Pet: Tips for Happy Vet Visits

happy vet visits before traveling with your petThe mere thought of traveling with your pet can cause people a great deal of stress. Conforming to rules and regulations involved in pet travel can be difficult. In fairness, it’s never going to be easy, but there are things you can do to make the whole experience a little less stressful for the two of you!

Before traveling with a dog or cat, it is a very good idea to take it to your veterinarian for a check-up, and it is mandatory before traveling internationally.

Here are several reasons why a vet visit before traveling with your pet is a good idea:

  • Your vet can check your pet for overall wellness.
  • Your vet can verify that your pet’s rabies and other vaccinations are current and issue a vaccination certificate..
  • Your vet can microchip your pet. This is very important for pet identification and is required to enter many foreign countries. Don’t forget to register your contact information in the chip manufacturer’s database.
  • Your vet can renew any prescriptions your pet may be taking so you can bring them along.
  • You can discuss any sedation your pet may need when traveling with your vet.
  • Your vet can complete a health certificate as required by many airlines and foreign countries.
  • Your vet can check and treat your pet for fleas and ticks.This treatment is required by many foreign countries.
  • Your vet can trim your pet’s nails.

Very few people like going to the doctor for a heath check-up. People even struggle in the days leading up a doctor’s appointment even though they know it’s for their own good. Now imagine how your dog feels when he’s being poked and prodded in a place full of unfamiliar smells and sounds. It’s hard for them to know what’s really happening and therefore, it can quickly become a very traumatic experience for them.

How to Make Visits to the Vet Easy

Making vet trips easier is really about removing elements of stress at every step of the process. It’s unlikely that you’re going to arrive at a stage when your dog loves going to the vet, but you may get them to reach a stage of acceptance – just like people do!

Give Them a Safe Place

When traveling with a dog or cat by car, you need to secure them to keep them safe. Whether it be a carrier, crate, booster seat or harness, restraining your pet not only protects them but also the driver and other passengers in the car. Getting your pet used to its restraint is so important in keeping it calm. Your pet will feel more secure in a carrier or crate if you take the time to acclimate it. Practice, practice, practice, and don’t forget to give lots of hugs, praise and treats during this process.

Plan Other Adventures

If the only time your pet gets in the car is to go to the vet, then it will be hard to convince them that this will be a great experience for them. It is good to remove your pet from its day-to-day routine occasionally and give them the stimulation of a new environment. Take them to a dog (or cat) friendly place – the beach, a park, a pet store or restaurant so they will not always associate a ride in the car as going to see the doctor. If nothing else, just take them for rides in the car and give lots of love and treats when you return home.

Practice Calmness

As we all know, dogs and cats are so good at picking up on emotional cues, and if they can see you’re stressed before you even leave the house, they’re going to pick up that something “bad” is about to happen. Try to remain calm and comforting as most dogs and cats already know that they’re leaving their territory once they are in the car. Try to act as if everything is fine! Speak to them consistently in soft tones as much as you can.

Try a False Alarm

You can also try to visit the vet first – without actually seeing the doctor! Give your pets a few minutes to become familiar with the waiting room and exam room, give them a few treats, and head on home. Hopefully, when they go back to familiar surroundings, they’ll remember the treats they received!

Avoid the Crowds

Another issue your dog may face is with all the other animals in the waiting room. Depending on your schedule, try to pick a time when the vet’s office is a little on the quieter side. Of course, this is not possible in emergencies, but it may be worth keeping in mind for more regular check-ups.

Make it a Happy Ending

Another tip is to combine your trip to the vet with another happy experience. After your vet visit, go to a pet store or dog park, visit a friend or relative or just take a long walk. Be consistent though – your pet will remember the previous experience and expect the reward at the end.

Using these simple tips can get you both through the stress involved in a vet visit before traveling with your pet. Stay positive and know that your support will help your pet get through the experience.

Contributor to this article is Greyhounds As Pets, a non-for-profit initiative for the adoption of greyhounds.

Information on traveling with a pet can be found at PetTravel.com.

Airline Cargo Pet Crates: Is Your Dog or Cat Crate IATA Compliant?

pet crateIf your dog or cat will be flying in the cargo hold of an airplane, then the pet crate it will travel in will be subject to International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations for the transport of live animals.

If you have a crate for your pet, here are the requirements that your airline will be looking for when you check in your pet.

Your crate must be a closed container made of fiberglass, metal, rigid plastic, solid wood or plywood. This article will address rigid, plastic pet crates only. The specs for wooden crates depend on the animal being transported.

You should select your crate according to your pet’s measurements. Your cat or dog must be able to stand up and turn around in the crate. More details on measuring your pet for its crate.

Your pet crate must be well constructed and able to withstand freight activities. Your dog or cat is most at risk during travel if your crate is damaged allowing your pet to escape.

pet crate cornersAll hardware required to secure both halves of the crate must be present and installed. Most crates come with sturdy plastic hardware. Many airlines will require that your pet’s crate be secured with metal hardware. Openings should be present on each corner of the crate allowing the door to be zip-tied closed.
The interior of your dog or cat crate must have no sharp edges or protrusions that could cause injury to your pet. Do not put any toys, chews or other items in the crate with your pet.

The floor of the crate must be clean, leak-proof and solid. Absorbent bedding such as a pet pad must be provided. Pet owners should be aware of restrictions imposed on their destination country – straw, litter or wood chips are not advisable. Wheels must be disabled or removed prior to check-in.

The sides must be solid with adequate openings over the upper two thirds of the crate measuring a minimum of 1″ (2.5 cm) for ventilation. Openings must be 4″ (10 cm) apart (center to center). There must also be ventilation holes on the fourth side if your dog or cat is traveling internationally.

pet crate forklift riser ridgeOn larger crates where the total weight exceeding 132 pounds (60 kg), then 2″ thick (5cm) forklift spacers running down the sides of the crate are required. Smaller crates should be equipped with handles or means for handlers to move the crate safely.

The roof of your pet crate must also be strong. Ventilation holes are permitted but not if they compromise the strength of the roof.

pet crate door hingesOne end of the crate must be fully open for a door which can be sliding or hinged. Thick, welded metal mesh must have openings that are nose and paw proof. This will mean openings in the mesh of no more than 3/4″ (19mm) for cats and 1″ (25mm) for dogs. The door can also be made of plastic if the hinges and locking pins are metal and there is no way your dog or cat can compromise the strength of the crate door. The door hinge and locking pins must be seated in the container a minimum of 5/8″ (1.6 cm) above and below the door opening.

Water/food bowls must be present and accessible to handlers to refill. Bowls that attach to the door of the crate are ideal for this purpose.

Crates must be labeled with Live Animal Stickers as well as a Shipper’s Declaration sticker with feeding and watering instructions.

See more information on CR 82 crates for dangerous dog breeds.

All crates and accessories mentioned here can be found at PetTravelStore.com.

Flying with your pet? Here are 10 things not to forget to do.

airplaneSo, you are flying with your pet in a few days. There is so much to think about. Here are 10 things you should not forget to do before you fly.

1. Confirm reservations for your pet – contact your airline and tell them you are traveling with a pet. Do this whether your pet is flying in the cabin, as checked baggage or air cargo. Do this before you book your ticket to be sure your airline has not met its limits on the number of pets they will carry on your flight. If you can’t pay for your pet’s passage online, then you will pay at the check-in counter.

2. Book a window seat – if your dog or cat is flying in the cabin with you, reserve a window seat. This removes your pet from the traffic in the aisle so it will be less distracted, stay calmer and can focus on your reassurances. Also, with all the cabin redesigns of late, electronics powering seat back screens and such can wind up under the center seat, thus eating up any space for your pet carrier.

cell phones3. Stay connected – sign up for flight notifications from your airline via text and email alerts. You can also get the FlightStats app which gives you real-time flight status and is free for Android and iOS phones. Amazon Echo can monitor flight status of most major American-based airlines, provide wait times at security, weather at your destination, call Uber or Lyft and provide translations for foreign countries.

Don’t forget to add your airline’s reservation number into your mobile device in case any delays or cancellations occur. If your pet is flying as air cargo, add the number of your airline’s cargo facility.

4. Do your research – check your layover airport to see if there are any pet relief areas behind security gates. Many US airports have them but unfortunately, few foreign airports do. (carry spare pet pads) Find pet hospitals and veterinarians in your destination city. Be prepared in the case of emergencies. Also find pet friendly hotels, parks and restaurants so you and your pet can enjoy your stay together. If you are thinking about attending an attraction that does not accept pets, find a doggie day care and contact them for their requirements.

5. Get your pet microchipped – this is one of the most important things you can do. A pet microchip is your pet’s identification should you become separated from it. Don’t forget to register your chip with your cell phone number in the registration. No good if officials are trying to contact you at home when you are out of town.

pet documentation6. Don’t forget your pet’s documentation – if you are flying with your pet internationally, you should already have your pet’s rabies certificate, health certificate and other permits and tests that may be required to enter your pet’s destination country. More on international pet import requirements.

Take a selfie of you and your pet on your mobile phone for identification.

7. Check your equipment – your pet carrier should be clean, without tears, and zippers should operate correctly. Make sure you have everything you need to make your pet crate IATA-compatible if your pet is traveling in the cargo hold. Put your pet’s documentation in a plastic Zip lock bag and tape it to the top of your pet’s crate and mark it ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS – DO NOT REMOVE. Tape a bit of food as well if you are taking a long trip. Freeze water in your pet’s water bowl to minimize spillage during handling. Attach crate hardware and live animal stickers to the crate. Put a good pet crate pad in the crate to keep your pet dry and comfortable during the trip. More on preparing your pet’s crate for travel.

8. Assemble essentials – put everything your pet needs in one place: leash, collar, medications, treats, food, grooming items, wipes and anything else your pet will need. No toys or chews will be allowed in pet crates, so you will need to carry them with you.

9. Pre-Boarding exercise – leave extra time for walking your pet at home before leaving for the airport. This not only relaxes them but tires them out and helps to ease the stress of traveling. As always, be considerate to others and the environment and clean up after your pet.

Stay at Delta Sky Club when flying with your pet10. Relax – have a long layover in a US airport? Consider joining your airline’s club so you can relax in their lounge if they permit pets. Centurion Lounges for American Express Platinum card members permit well behaved pets in carriers. They are located in the following airports: Dallas/Fort Worth (Terminal D), Intercontinental Houston (Terminal D), Las Vegas McCarran (Concourse D), Miami International (Concourse D), NY LaGuardia (Terminal B – pre-security), San Francisco (Terminal 3) and Seattle-Tacoma (Concourse B). Members of United Club and Delta Sky Club can also enjoy their well behaved pets in their lounges. If your pet is flying as air cargo, this is a good time to contact the cargo office and request an update on your pet’s transport.

Much more information on flying with your pet can be found in our pet travel information section.

Pet Travel: Three Steps to a Pet-Safe Vacation

steps to a pet friendly vacation
When contemplating travel, few people imagine their animals as potential companions. Bringing pets can complicate traveling in numerous ways, such as trying to fit bathroom breaks in during short layovers or obtaining certificates and other documents for traveling to certain locations with pets.

However, if you are the kind of pet parent that loves experiencing new places with their four-legged family members, safe and pet-friendly adventures are certainly within reach. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure the health and safety of your pet for your next adventure.

1. Plan Far in Advance

Traveling with a pet takes plenty of planning. You must be sure to pack everything your pet could potentially need including any special food, medication, toys, leashes, collars, and other essentials. You will also need to take the time to prepare your pet for travel. Many animals will not take kindly to an upheaval in their routine and will need to be trained for safe, comfortable travel.

If you are planning to fly, contact the airline to confirm their rules about pet travel. Some airlines will not allow animals, and others only permit pets in the cargo hold. Each pet-friendly airline will have certain rules about carrier specifications.

Of course, most pet parents avoid placing their pets in cargo when possible. The cargo hold itself is typically safe; however, the hours spent on the ground waiting for the flight to leave may expose your pet to extreme conditions. If you fail to plan a flight far enough in advance, you may find your trip canceled.

If you’re traveling by car, you should map your route to ensure enough stops for your pet to get out, stretch, and relieve themselves. You should also take proper >safety precautions. Larger pets should have a seat belt harness to protect against car accidents, while smaller pets can benefit from a car seat.

2. Research Your Destination

Before traveling to a new place with your pet, you should be sure to research your destination to gauge pet-friendliness. Key things to look for include pet-friendly accommodations, parks, and businesses, as well as a nearby vet in case of an emergency.

Research is particularly important when traveling abroad. Each country has specific laws dictating the importation of animals. You may need a pet passport, blood test results, a microchip, or other documentation just to leave the airport with your pet.

Some countries have quarantine periods that last as long as several months. You must do your research before attempting to bring your pet to a new country, or your pet could end up in quarantine without you for an extended period.

3. Know When to Leave Your Pet at Home

Even if it is your life goal to bring your pet everywhere you go, there are some trips that just aren’t worth the risk. Frequent travel can be very stressful for animals that thrive on routine, and some countries’ laws are less than accommodating.

It is important to know that you can leave your pet in good hands while you travel. There are plenty of freelance pet sitters and walkers that would love nothing more than to spoil your pet while you are away. Though it can be upsetting to leave your travel companion behind, sometimes it’s in your pet’s best interests.

Pet travel may be more complicated than going alone. When you truly love your pet, it sometimes feels impossible to leave them behind. Your pet can stay safe during trips with careful planning and research, though there are some instances when a pet sitter may be a better idea. Whatever you decide to do, always prioritize your pet’s safety, health, and comfort.

Author: Jessica Brody, OurBestFriends.pet
Image by Pixabay by Tess deGroot

BVA Recommends Tick Treatments and Limits on Pet Imports to the UK

Ticks are not part of healthy pet travel.The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is calling for the reinstatement of regulations calling for mandatory tick treatments for all cats and dogs traveling to the United Kingdom under the Pet Travel Scheme between 24 and 48 hours of import. This request is due to outbreaks of Babesia canis, a disease carried by ticks that are not native to the UK. This requirement was abolished in 2011 to make pet import to the UK easier and more affordable.

Additionally, the BVA is requesting that tapeworm treatments be mandatory for cats entering the UK as well. Presently, a tapeworm treatment must be administered to all dogs only entering the UK from any country within one to five days of import.

Both of these restrictions would address the spread of zoonotic disease in the UK that is currently being experienced.

In an effort to address the increasing number of illegally imported puppies to the country, the BVA is calling for a revision to the number of pets to five per vehicle as opposed to five per person which is currently in force. Further, the number of puppies under six months of age would be reduced to two per vehicle.

This recommendation comes from mounting pressure on Defra to address the number of underage puppies being imported to the UK to meet public demand.

More info here.

Current regulations to import pets to the United Kingdom can be found here and will be revised should legislation be changed: http://www.pettravel.com/immigration/UnitedKingdom.cfm.

UPDATE – April 27, 2917 – Animal Health Groups declare Tick Awareness Month to apply pressure to reinstate tick treatment for dogs and cats entering the United Kingdom.

Pet Travel – Red-Eared Slider Turtle Ban in the UK

red eared slider turtleFor owners of red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans), pet travel regulations regarding this turtle when entering the United Kingdom (UK) and the EU will be affected after the EU Commission published its new list of species of EU wide concern, as part of the Invasive Alien Species Regulation. This regulation was mandated into EU law on the January 1, 2015, came into practice in the UK and the EU on August 16, 2016.

In order to qualify for inclusion on the list, a species must be non-native to the country, have the ability to thrive in the environment and also pose a risk for the ecosystems that exist in the country.

This breed of turtle has been banned for sale, exchange or breeding in the UK. Owners of this species who reside in the UK can keep their turtle; however, it is illegal to import, breed, sell or rehome it. Also, it is very illegal to release it to the wild.

These regulations pose a problem for owners of this turtle when they need to relocate. Because shelters and rescue organizations are subject to these regulations, they cannot rehome these turtles either, so surrender options may be difficult.

It remains to be seen how Brexit will affect the UK laws on invasive species and whether they will be adopted as they are written.

Find the regulations regarding EU invasive alien species here.