According to a recent American Automobile Association (AAA) study, 56% of traveling Americans take their pets with them. If you plan ahead, the journey can be safer and more fun for everyone.
Before you leave on your trip, you should take your pet to the veterinarian to make sure he or she is in good health and up-to-date on vaccinations and rabies shots. You can also ask the vet for a health certificate which is required by the airlines and some hotels. Inquire about sedatives if the animal is especially nervous while traveling. Be sure to test any new medications ahead of time so you know if your pet can tolerate it.
Your pet won’t need to remember his swimsuit, but he will appreciate a supply of his regular food and some local or bottled water. Don’t forget current medications and a familiar blanket or toy is always welcomed.
If your pet gets away from you, you will want to be sure to:
· Be certain he or she is wearing a collar with tags that give his name, your name, your cell phone number, and information about where you are staying. Proof of recent rabies shots should also be with the ID tags.
· Bring a recent picture of your pet to show people.
· Think about purchasing a microchip which is a more permanent form of ID.
Research things like dog parks and walking routes at your destination to keep your pet exercised when you are away from home.
To bring a pet across the border of Mexico or Canada, for example, you must have a health certificate for the animal dated within two weeks of your travel date.
10 tips for traveling in an automobile with your pet
· If your pet is not used to traveling, let him or her sit in the car in the driveway with you, then progress to short trips.
· Stop every two to three hours for exercise and a bathroom break. Be sure to clean up after your pet.
· Keep the car well-ventilated.
· Let your pet travel on an empty stomach. Do not feed him or her while in motion, but provide plenty of water.
· Do not let your pet stick his head out the window. This can cause eye, ear and lung damage.
· Tell children not to annoy the pet.
· Don’t leave your pet unattended in a vehicle. The inside of a car can get extremely hot or extremely cold. Someone should always stay with the pet when making stops during travel.
· Restrain pets inside the vehicle. Only about 16% of travelers said they do. This is dangerous for everyone. In a crash your unrestrained pet acts like a missile and can cause injury.
· When you and your pet meet strangers, keep your pet under your control and discourage adults and children you don’t know from petting him or her.
· Remember trips are stressful for everyone, including your pet.
If you or a member of your family is bitten by a dog while traveling, there are some actions you should take. Try to find the owner of the animal and ask for proof of recent rabies inoculation. Go to the emergency room or a doctor to ascertain the seriousness of your injury. Keep records of all doctor visits and ask how long you may need treatment.
Sources: American Kennel Club, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, American Automobile Association
This article was written by Attorney James W. Slater of the Akron, Ohio law firm of Slater & Zurz LLP.
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