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 is included on the list of invasive species and owners must submit to additional regulations.  An import license is also required for pet owners looking to import red eared slider turtles.

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 may 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.

How Brexit Will Affect Pet Travel

English BulldogUPDATE: See this post for most recent information concerning Brexit and how it will affect pet travel

The recent Brexit vote by the Brits to leave the European Union will have little effects on pet travel in the near term. The current import requirements for cats, dogs and ferrets will remain intact. (Find them here) What will change is the ease that EU-Member State pet owners will have traveling to and from the United Kingdom.

More concerning is that the UK will not be bound to EU legislation and may strengthen their requirements for pet import. This is likely to happen in some form considering the pressure the government is receiving from animal welfare and rescue organizations struggling to handle abandoned and unwanted dogs as well as problems they are having with the illegal puppy trade.

EU Pet Passports will either be rendered useless or will need to be reissued in the UK, and their status for entering the EU are in question. Will they be universally accepted by the EU or will the Annex form, which is only good for 4 months, will be required?

The UK will need to apply to the European Commission for consideration to be included as a non-EU listed country (otherwise known as a Third country). This is likely to happen as the UK is considered a rabies-free country by many countries in the world and their status with the World Organization for Animal Health is in good standing.

Pet travelers need to be informed of any changes that will happen in the next year as the UK readies itself to divest. We will post all changes in legislation, so stay tuned!

Pet Travel USDA Endorsement of Forms in New York

USDA endorsement in New YorkUser Tip: Pet Travel USDA Endorsement of Forms in New York State

Recently, we heard from one of our pet owners, Nick, who was traveling from New York and needed USDA endorsement of his pet’s documentation.

I came to the vet yesterday for an international travel certificate, which then needed to be certified by the USDA. We had gone to the office at JFK airport logistics center one in the past and went again yesterday. They were totally overwhelmed, and despite waiting for 5 hours I was unable to be seen.

I had to make an unexpected trip to the USDA office in Albany, which was able to help. They said that the JFK airport logistics center location is not to be used except in emergencies (and really not relied on at all) and that all future request should be sent to them (the Albany office) with prepaid return overnight shipping.

Anyways just wanted to pass the word along. It will save others some extreme aggravation.

Thanks for passing this along to other pet owners, Nick! We appreciate your feedback.

More information on importing your cat, dog or other animal to the United States.

The Pet Travel Team

Tips on How to Keep Your Pet Calm on July 4th

man and dog with fireworks

Whether the event is New Years Eve, Fourth of July or just a celebration, fireworks, flashing lights and loud booms can be pretty scary for many cats and dogs. So how do you keep your pet calm on July 4th amidst all the noise and flashes of light?

Did you know that more dogs run away on the evening of the 4th of July than any other day of the year?

Studies have shown that almost half of dog owners reported that their dog  showed at least one behavioral sign typical of fear when exposed to noises. This fear can begin in puppies or surface in middle-aged or older dogs. In houses with multiple pets, fear can spread as learned behavior from one pet to another.

Dogs and cats have pretty sensitive hearing, and, unless they are oblivious to loud noises and flashing lights, you can wind up with your pet under your feet, in your lap or on your head pretty fast. 

Try these tips for keeping both you and your pet calm on July 4th or any other evening where celebrations occur.

  • Stay at home. Taking your pet to a fireworks display is not a good idea. Stay at home with them. The comfort and security that you can offer them will make a difference, despite the fact that it may appear that nothing will calm them. 
  • Stay on schedule. On the day of the celebration, keep to your pet’s schedule as much as possible. Pets can sense a change in schedule and that can bring on feelings of anxiety.
  • Tire them out. Give your dog or cat plenty of exercise before the fireworks begin. Tiring them out may encourage them to rest during the show. Also, make sure they are have an opportunity to do their business so you don’t have to take them outside later.
  • Bring them inside and close all the doors, windows and shades before the merriment begins. Although that won’t eliminate the noise, it will help to bring it down a notch.
  • Make some noise of your own – turn up the television or music. Turn on the fans. Although your pet’s hearing is better than yours, the sounds may be a distraction and lessen their attention on the booms they hear outside.
  • Create distractions. If you can redirect the focus off of the loud noises and flashes of light by playing laser tag or tug of war with your pet, then great. Pick a game with lots of interactions and talk to them all the while you play. 
  • Watch out for signs of distress like change in behavior, lack of interaction, pacing, excessive grooming, labored panting, shaking, drooling, crying, barking, spraying, scratching, nausea, aggression or loss of bladder control, pooping or or changes in appetite.
  • Don’t discourage or discipline them for their behavior. Abnormal actions such as peeing, pooping, licking, chewing are reactions to stress. Be understanding of these mishaps. 
  • Give them places to hide if that is what they want to do. Their pet crate, your bed, a closet, the basement or the shower can offer security for your pets. It can be confining if they are comfortable with it. Hide with them if you can fit.
  • Wrap them up in a blanket with your scent on it or a large t-shirt if they will let you. The bundling can lessen anxiety in some dogs.
  • Lavender is a great scent for calming both you and your pet. You can find it in oil, lotions, air fresheners and other products. Apply it to a towel and wrap your pet in it. 
  • Be a role model. Your behavior will play a large part in your pet’s comfort. Stay calm yourself and don’t reinforce their fear by going overboard with comfort. Long strokes and even tones are best.
  • Consider training. An animal behaviorist may be able to help your pet conquer its fears. Additionally, you can work with your dog using background noise resembling thunderstorms while offering treats and engaging your pup in various games. Over time, they will make the connection when they hear loud noises.
  • ID your pet. Make sure your pet has ID tags on their collar with your cell phone number. Better yet, microchip your pet and register your information in the manufacturer’s database. Always keep that information current. Speak to your vet about rabies vaccination registration.
  • What else to do? You can try pheromone diffusers and calming collars which may or may not work. If you feel that your pet suffers despite your efforts, you can talk to your vet about a tranquilizer, Benadryl or an all natural pet calmer.
  • When the fireworks are all over, tell them so. “All done” is something everybody understands.
  • Give them a treat to celebrate and have a great holiday together.

Hopefully, these tips for how to keep pets calm on July 4th will help you both get through the merriment.

Find more great tips on your pet’s health and happiness.