Memorial Day Travel: Bring Fluffy, Fido and pet carriers

If you’re planning to travel with pets this Memorial Day weekend, here’s an important tip: Let them ride in pet carriers.

This might sound unnecessary, because your pets probably seem secure in the back of your sedan or SUV. But Dr. John Gicking of BluePearl Veterinary Partners said pet carriers provide extra safety to your travel plans for this weekend or this summer.

“For one thing, if you get in an accident, this is an extra level of protection for your pets,” said Gicking, who is board-certified in veterinary emergency and critical care.

Also, a cooped-up dog or cat might dart outside of your car at the first sign of an open door. This can be a disaster if you’re in an unfamiliar area. Having your pet in a carrier adds additional control.

A carrier might not be practical for some especially large dogs, but many pets actually like the comfort of a smaller enclosed space.

“If you’re traveling with more than one pet, have more than one carrier,” Gicking added.

Here are some other tips for anyone traveling with pets on Memorial Day or later this summer:

  • Stop at least every two hours and let your pets drink water and walk during each rest. This is not the time for a driving marathon.
  • Bring bowls, food and water.
  • Don’t feed your pets a large meal before leaving; simply allow periodic snacking.
  • Make sure your pet has a tag and is microchipped before you leave. This is extremely important if your pet gets lost in an unfamiliar place – or for that matter, even at home.
  • Pack plenty of your pet’s normal medications – in fact, bring extra to be on the safe side.
  • Pack a first aid kit for your pet: tweezers to remove ticks, bandaging material for any cuts, hydrogen peroxide, etc. Click here for a full list of items
  • Don’t forget pet documents! Keep your pet’s medical records handy in case of an emergency. Here’s a list of which documents to keep.
  • If your dog is prone to travel sickness, ask your veterinarian about an anti-vomiting medication called Cerenia.

Special considerations for kitty
Cats can be particularly sensitive to traveling. Here are tips for keeping your cat calm:

  • Try spraying “Feliway,” a synthetic feline facial pheromone, in the carrier about 30 minutes before leaving to help calm the feline traveler. Placing some catnip in the carrier may also serve the same purpose.
  • Don’t use tranquilizers or sedatives in cats for travel without checking with your family veterinarian due to potential complications such as hypotension or paradoxical hyper-excitability.
  • Always keep your cat confined in a carrier while traveling. A frightened feline can easily escape through an open car window or door without anyone noticing.
  • Be sure to carry some moistened and dry paper towels and plastic bags for potential carrier accidents.