Contributed by Adeena Ramos, Bergen County Veterinary Center
Summer brings many opportunities to travel and have fun with our pets. In order to do so safely, there are several tips you should follow. Whether traveling with a cat or dog, by plane or car, there are things we can do to make the experience less stressful. As we all know, cats are not fond of traveling no matter how “chill” they are. House cats feel most comfortable and safe in their home. However, if you must take them with you, there are some things you can do to create a positive connection to traveling. Help them acclimate to their carrier by keeping it out and open for them to explore it and go in and out of it as much as they want. Make the carrier inviting by placing comfy towels and yummy treats in it. Once they don’t mind their carrier, traveling becomes a lot easier!
Dogs may be a little more open to things outside of their comfort zone but they too often get stressed out with travel. Introducing them to the car with short practice trips and making sure they are secured while driving is extremely important. Keeping them confined is safest for them, the driver and other passengers. Above all else, make sure you NEVER leave your pet alone in a vehicle, even with windows down. Aside from having your pet stolen, overheating is a very real risk and can happen in a matter of minutes. If you are flying, it is imperative that you look for an airline with specific pet policies such as transporting pets in a temperature-controlled vehicle and knowledgeable employees on hand. Finally, regardless of the mode of transportation, there are sedatives, such as Trazadone, Alprazolam and Diazepam as well as anti-nausea meds, such as Cerenia, that your veterinarian can assist you with to make travel a calm and relaxing experience for all.
Once you have figured out the “getting there” part there are so many amazing things that you can do with your pet! We are very lucky today that many hotels, restaurants, bars, and plenty of outdoor activities are pet-friendly. As long as you are certain to pack the necessities for fun in the sun you can be sure you will have a blast with your best friend. If you will be out in the sun and water make sure to pack some UV blocking cloths, pet-friendly sunscreen, bug repellent, a lifejacket and of course a water bowl and enough water. Remember, they do not know when enough is enough so make sure to pull them out of the water when they are tired and to get them out of the heat when they’ve had enough.
Lastly, we know that summer brings about parties and fireworks. From the week before the 4th of July through Labor Day Weekend, families are celebrating. Fireworks not only cause physical harm to pets; they also cause pets to run away which in turn leads to them getting lost and often getting hit by a car. Keep your pets inside when there are fireworks and festivities going on outside. Consider some mild sedatives from your veterinarian to help ease anxiety. Be proactive and make sure your pet is microchipped, so in the event, they do get loose, they can be more easily reunited with their owner.
Our pets are part of our family and count on us to love and protect them at all times. Following these simple safety guidelines will make this and every summer a very memorable experience for all!