(BPT) - Did you know 30 million people travel with their pets each year? Whether by plane, train or automobile, if you're planning an upcoming trip with your furry family member, it's important to plan ahead to ensure you both stay safe and healthy while making memories that will last a lifetime.
'Traveling with pets has never been more popular,' says Dr. Christina Fernandez, Medical Director of the SGU Small Animal Clinic in Grenada and Associate Professor Emergency Critical Care at St. George's University. 'To ensure you both have a wonderful time without experiencing unexpected hurdles and headaches, be proactive. A little forethought goes a long way to keep everyone safe and having fun.'
Dr. Fernandez suggests five simple steps to prepare when traveling with pets:
Prevent bug bothers
Planning a trip to a cabin or lake home? These popular destinations are ideal for people traveling with pets, but being outdoors can mean lots of insects. Plan to visit your vet at least a month prior to your departure to discuss flea and tick treatments, as these can take several weeks to start working effectively. Especially if your pet is not already receiving routine preventatives.
Slather on sun protection
Everyone wants great weather while on vacation, and sunny days are ideal for all types of activities. It's important to be careful, though, as too much sunshine is dangerous for both people and pets. Pack sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher for yourself but be aware that sun block sold for human use can be potentially toxic to your pet. Look for pet specific sun block instead or ask your veterinarian if there is a suitable product that could be used to protect your pet while having fun in the sun. While you're out, remember to wear light clothing, a hat and sunglasses. Always take frequent breaks in the shade with your pet to cool off.
Properly prepare prescriptions
No matter where you're traveling, be sure to plan ahead and pack enough medication to last the entire duration of your trip. Properly label all medication for you and your pet, and consider carrying a written prescription from your doctor just in case you need a refill while away. Bottles can get lost, damaged or stolen, so having a backup plan can be a lifesaver. If your pet has major medical conditions it's never a bad idea to request a copy of the pet's medical records to have with you, especially if you are going on longer trips.
Snacks stave off hunger
Both you and your pet will need nourishment while traveling, so don't forget to pack snacks. Staying properly hydrated is important, too, making bottled water a must. If traveling by car, ice cubes are a mess-free treat for your pup. A few healthy snacks for you and a small bag of food for your pet will keep you fueled throughout any journey so you're ready to roll when you arrive at your destination.
Verify perfectly pleasant pet accommodations
If you're staying at a hotel or resort, verifying your reservations before leaving is always a smart step, yet when traveling with a pet it is even more important. The last thing you want is to arrive and find out they don't allow animals or all the animal-approved rooms are taken. Make a call now to provide peace of mind and avoid trouble later.
'Vacationing with pets isn't a trend, it's something people will continue to do more and more,' says Dr. Fernandez. 'As long as pet owners think ahead about what they should do for themselves and well as their furry family members, there's no reason Fifi or Fido can't come along on the journey.'
If you are interested in a career in medicine or veterinary medicine, learn more at www.sgu.edu/future.students.