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Veterinarians Offer Simple Tips for Safe Travel

Moving or traveling with a pet usually involves more than putting the animal in a car and driving off, especially if you’re moving or traveling far away. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) offers these tips to help you prepare for a move and make it go a little smoother.

Remember that your veterinarian is a good source of information. Before you move, ask your veterinarian to recommend another doctor in your new area. You also can call the American Animal Hospital Association at 800/883-6301 or e-mail AAHA for the names and phone numbers of AAHA veterinarians near you.

Check out the new facility before an emergency strikes. Make sure it meets your expectations in the areas of cleanliness, caring and well-trained staff, reasonable fees, and convenient hours.

Have your current veterinarian’s phone number handy in case of an emergency or if your new veterinarian needs more information about your pet.

Travel with a copy of your pet’s medical records, especially if the animal has a difficult medical history.

“If there is any medical problem, the pet may need to be examined before travel,” says Dr. Walt Ingwersen, AAHA veterinarian in Whitby, Ontario. “Some countries require a full exam and health certificate, and the United States and Canada require a valid rabies certificate. Discuss this with your veterinarian.”

If your pet is on medication, be sure to have plenty for the trip –and then some. Dr. Ingwersen points out that veterinarians cannot write a prescription without a prior doctor/patient relationship. This means that in order to get any drugs, your pet will need to be examined first by its new doctor. This may be inconvenient if you need medication right away. You may ask your current veterinarian for a prescription before you move.

If your pet is on a special therapeutic diet, purchase an extra supply in case you can’t find the food right away in your new area.

Carry a first aid kit for your pet. While first aid is no substitute for veterinary care, knowing basic first aid could save your pet’s life.

If your move involves driving, book ahead hotels that accept animals. “Vacationing with Your Pet” by Eileen Barish is a directory of pet-friendly lodging throughout the United States and Canada. Order a copy by calling (800)496-2665.

Thinking of using a boarding kennel? Get recommendations from your veterinarian and make sure your pet’s vaccines are up-to-date. You also can call the American Boarding Kennels Association at 719/591-1113 for the names of kennels in your area.

If traveling by plane, call the airline in advance to check out regulations and services and to make reservations. Some airlines will allow pets in the cabin, but you will need to purchase a special airline crate that fits under the seat in front of you.

Some pets travel better while tranquilized. Discuss this with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may suggest giving your pet a tranquilizer three to four weeks before your trip to check the dosage and adjust it if necessary.

Learn more about your new area. Your veterinarian can tell you if there are any diseases like heartworm or Lyme disease and vaccinations or medications your pet may require. Also, be aware of any unique laws. Some places have restrictions on exotic animals (ferrets are not allowed in some cities), and there are restrictive breed laws in others, such as no pit bulls allowed. Your pet could be affected by these laws, so call ahead to the city or travel information bureau for more information.

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