Spring is just around the corner and that means that some early birds are already preparing for their outdoor trips. If you’re planning to include your dog in the upcoming adventure it will only upgrade the event. But before you whistle to your dog to come along, you ought to read Dr. Kreiner’s guidelines for traveling safely with pets.
The first and foremost important factor in planning a trip with your dog is the health aspect. When you cross geographical borders, even if it’s just for a couple of weeks, you will have to begin an import/export process and that means that you will need to check the rules and requirements for pets’ imports and exports relevant to both countries at arrival and departure points. You will need an international microchip, a dog’s vaccination report and you will also need to make sure the dog is vaccinated according to the requirements in both countries.
When you travel with your dog to a new environment you are exposing him to new diseases, and hazards that are unfamiliar to his immune system. Even if you plan on taking your dog to the lake or the mountains just a few hours’ drive away, a visit to the vet is mandatory. Most common vaccinations and preventive treatments are the rabies, de-worming (including park worm), DHLP, cat flu and kennel cough. The types of vaccinations depend on the environmental conditions and the dosage depends on your pets’ weight and medical condition. Only a certified vet can determine the kind of treatment and dosage that will meet your pets’ medical needs.
When it comes down to medical procedures there are “musts” (countries’ requirements) and “nice to haves;” in this case, professional advice from your veterinarian, who is familiar with your pet’s medical history and knows precisely what’s right for him according to your specific plans. While some pet owners refer only to their local vets, more and more people are seeking pet traveling solutions by referring to flight veterinarians (especially when an international trip is on the agenda).
If you’re planning a trip which includes domestic or international flights, ask your vet to perform a flight-related health assessment to make sure your dog will not suffer from medical complications throughout the journey.
Many pet owners tend to think that it’s in their pets’ best interest to sedate them before the long drive or a flight but that is an urban myth according to Dr. Kreiner: “Every time a pet is sedated it is exposed to a medical risk and that is why we, the veterinarian community, perform anesthesia only when it’s mandatory; when performing an invasive procedure or when a pet experiences severe pain after an accident, a surgery etc.”
According to Dr. Kreiner, the low oxygen level and dry air inside the aircraft reduces blood circulation and may increase hypothermia, dizziness, stomach ache and more diverse side-effects. In that case drugs are most likely to worsen the condition and may even create a threat.
Dr. Kreiner advises to refrain from feeding the dog before the long drive/flight (at least three hours before leaving the house) but to provide him with lots of water before and during the journey. During the vacation itself, make sure you bring his food, vitamins and medicine with you and keep feeding him according to his everyday habits. If you change his diet nourishment routine it might lead to psychological and or physical reactions. And last but not least – find out if there is a veterinary hospital or a veterinary emergency center in the local domain so you’ll know where to turn just in case….
Dr. Kreiner is the head of the Veterinary Flight Division at Animal Airways Ltd., a global pet flight and relocation company that provides comprehensive services geared to ship pets safely, legally and comfortably worldwide. The company assists private pet owners as well as global mobility organizations that handle worldwide employee relocations with their pets.