On the road with furry family members

BY JESSICA WELSHANS

For The Express

Time to take that family vacation — and often it’s the whole family that goes, including the pet dogs and maybe even the cat.

Dr. Danielle Bernal, veterinarian with Wellness Natural Pet Food, has some sound advice for pet owners when it is time to make a short, or long, trip with the family pet.

TRAVELING

First and foremost, whether it’s by plane or car, make sure your pet is comfortable. If driving, she said, make sure the pet can move easily and has plenty of access to fresh water.

“You will also need to take regular bathroom breaks during the trip; use this time so that they can stretch their legs,” she added.

If the pet is not being crated in the vehicle, make sure it is safely harnessed into the seat.

PLANNING AHEAD

While planning the trip remember to make a checklist, to make sure you will have everything a pet needs.

Bernal also recommends a vet visit, or a check-in with the vet to make sure pets are up to date on vaccines and they have their own ID that has pertinent information.

“Make sure their microchip is registered with all your current contact details, check that their ID tag and collar are secure, and if you are going overseas, make sure their passport is completed as to the governing body of both the USA and your vacation destination’s needs,” she said.

With clear identification and a full bill of health, a lost pet has a chance to be reunited with the owner as soon as possible.

Getting lost is one emergency a pet owner should be prepared for — and they should make sure they are prepared for any kind of emergency.

“Before you leave home, do your research. Find out where the closest veterinarian is to your accommodations, check what hours they are open and if an emergency clinic is nearby. During the panic that often ensues when something goes wrong, knowing these details can be helpful in making sure you get to the vet faster and with a whole lot less stress,” Bernal said.

PACKING

When packing, be sure to pack the essentials for your pet, too. This will help your dog or cat be content and happy while on vacation, the vet said.

Bedding is something pet parents may not think to bring. If the destination doesn’t have, or possibly may not have, comfortable bedding accommodations for the pet, make sure to take your pet’s bed and blankets.

“Packing your pet’s bed and some blankets is essential to making sure that they feel at home and comfortable when you all arrive,” Bernal said.

Another essential is food and water, and Bernal said keeping pets healthy while traveling can be trying if they get sick or anxious. Pick a good diet to travel with.

“Some pets can get naturally anxious when they travel and subsequently get increased stomach upsets or loose stools. Feeding a natural grain-free diet reinforced with intestinal support like Wellness Core a couple weeks prior to departure can help promote a healthier bacterial balance to minimize the impact of the pet’s stress during the travel and holiday,” Bernal said. “Once you hit the road, pet parents should continue to feed the same diet for the entire trip to keep them healthy and minimize any sudden upsets.”

Don’t forget to pack some type of food or water bowls, and enough bottled water for the journey.

VISITING

When you get to your destination, don’t be tempted to feed your pet people foods.

“As tempting as it is, try not to feed your pet the barbecued leftovers or special treats off your plate. Their big brown eyes may be telling you one story, but their tummy will soon tell you another,” Bernal said. “The higher fat levels in our food can often result in diarrhea or vomiting, and if they get hold of some bones or skewer sticks, the end result could be far more extreme, with a trip to the veterinary clinic.”

Those who like to take their dog with them to all destinations on vacation need to remember a good leash and those poop bags to clean up the mess.

“Whether it is a new walking trail, brunch at a great cafe or relaxing at your new home, you will want to make sure you can take your dogs with you wherever you go on the trip, so pack their leashes, some bags for easy clean-up and their favorite toys so they know what they can and can’t play with,” Bernal said.

If you are taking your cat, Bernal said, make sure you bring its litter box.

“And kitty litter,” she added, “so they can comfortably use the bathroom. Should you want to use a portable litter tray that can collapse down, don’t forget to let your cat use it for a couple weeks before you leave so that they can get used to it.”

Crates are a good idea when traveling. Some places may require them; be sure to check before you go. A crate also is a failsafe way of making sure your pet is safe when you’re not with them, or even at night, Bernal said.

“For pets who have undergone crate training, this can also provide a great sense of comfort to them while you are away,” she said. “Don’t forget that accidents are bound to happen, so throwing in some cleaning supplies and cloths can make for swift and easy clean-ups.”

Aside from finding the nearest vet, make sure if your pet takes medication that you don’t forget it.

“Should your pet be on set medication from your veterinarian, pack it in the hand luggage to make sure it doesn’t get misplaced, and most importantly, set reminders to make sure that you stay on the same schedule as you would at home,” the vet recommends. “Packing a simple pet first aid kit is also a great tip. Whether it is just a quick check of their temperature or mending a simple scratch, the first aid kit will come in handy should you need it.”

And don’t forget to give your pet exercise while away or traveling.

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