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Jun 19 2014

Planning a Pet-Friendly Summer Vacation

Worked hard all year long? Looking forward to a well-deserved summer vacation? Taking the entire family along….including the family pet? If this sounds like your plan, here are a few tips to make your summer vacation one to remember:

  1. Consider your pet when deciding on a mode of transportation.  If you are traveling by car, make sure your pet has a comfortable, safe place to lie down. Cats and small dogs travel well in pet carriers. Cats especially like the cozy, quiet environment of the carrier. If your dog prefers to sit on the seat, restrain him with a car safety harness. Unrestrained pets become flying objects in the event of a collision and can injure not only themselves, but their human passengers, too.  For air traveling pets, the safest place is inside a pet carrier that fits underneath the airplane seat. Traveling in cargo during hot weather can be risky. Soaring temperatures and inadequate ventilation inside planes and on the tarmac put a pet at risk for hyperventilation and heat stroke.  Check with airlines for specific regulations prior to departure.
  2. Allow time for frequent bathroom breaks. Build extra time into your travel schedule to allow Fido to “take care of business.” For extended car trips, it’s wise to map out rest stops or welcome centers and plan bathroom breaks accordingly. To keep rest stops clean, bring along waste control items such as plastic bags to pick up after your pet. For cats traveling in cars, have a small litter box prepared to place inside the pet carrier. Since the kitty will be in close quarters, it’s important to scoop the box frequently in order to keep it fresh.
  3. Be smart at meal time. Provide frequent small snacks instead of large, heavy meals.  Have fresh water available at all times. Stick to your pet’s regular diet. Vacation is not the time to try new foods.
  4. Avoid gastro-intestinal upsets. If your pet is prone to car sickness or stress induced diarrhea, bring along his prescription medications. There are effective drugs available that will decrease the misery of car sickness. Nausea is not fun for your furry friend and cleaning up the mess is not fun for you either. Some dogs develop diarrhea when in a new environment or when their schedule is changed. Vacations include changes in both, so if your dog suffers from bouts of digestive disorders or colitis, have his medication on hand for flare ups. Your doctor may even ask you to give the medicine as a prevention tactic.
  5. Find pet-friendly places to stay overnight. When making hotel reservations, verify that pets are allowed to lodge with you. Also ask if there are convenient areas to walk your dog. If you are staying at a camp ground, familiarize yourself with pet rules.
  6. Be prepared for weather changes. If visiting locations that have dramatically different climates, be prepared for extreme changes in temperature and humidity. Short nosed breeds have difficulty breathing in humid areas and dogs of any breed can have shortness of breath at high elevations. Arid dessert conditions can quickly dry out the surface of the eye which may contribute to the formation of a corneal ulcer. Bring along natural tear solution to moisten your dog’s eyes if vacationing in dry destinations.
  7. Get ready for hikes. If your dog will accompany you on long hikes, bring a good water supply for both of you. Collapsible bowls easily fit in a backpack and can be quickly filled with bottled water. Stop for frequent water breaks rather than waiting until your dog looks thirsty. Check your dog’s foot pads regularly for cuts or abrasions if hiking in rocky terrain. Have antibiotic ointment and bandage material on hand for emergency treatment of abrasions.
  8. Carry the proper paperwork with you. For vacations that require interstate travel, you should bring along a health certificate signed by your veterinarian. This health certificate verifies that your cat or dog will not transport infectious diseases or parasites across state lines. It’s also a good idea to bring a copy of your pet’s medical records. In case of emergency, you will be prepared with important information such as past medical history and immunizations records.
  9. Bring enough food and water for the entire vacation. Changes in diet are usually not well tolerated and an upset stomach while on the road is no fun for anyone….pet OR pet owner. Purified water will help avoid any problems with local water supplies.
  10. Pack your pet’s routine medications such as heartworm preventive and flea/tick control products. If you anticipate staying in a wooded area, tick prevention is really important. And if you walk your pet in designated green spaces, he may pick up fleas left behind by previous canine or feline visitors. If your pet is a nervous traveler, ask your veterinarian to prescribe a tranquilizer to make the trip more bearable for all concerned.
  11. Make sure your pet is adequately identified in case she becomes separated from your family. Two forms of ID are better than one. Attach an ID tag with your cell phone number to your pet’s collar and have him microchipped as well. If he already has a microchip, confirm that your registration is up to date with the monitoring service. Again, provide your cell phone number so you can be contacted wherever you are.
  12. Take time for a rest AND exercise. Vacations can be hectic, so provide ample down time for your pet. You will enjoy spending a few quiet moments together during a busy day of sightseeing. On the other hand, don’t neglect his normal exercise routine. Keeping his routine exercise schedule will help his attitude, his joints, and his GI tract.


With a little preparation, you can make this summer’s vacation the best ever for your family AND your family pet. Make vacation 2014 a trip to remember!

At the Coon Rapids Pet Hospital, we proudly strive to offer you and your pet the highest quality veterinary services possible.  Serving Coon Rapids, Blaine, Anoka, Andover, Ramsey, Oak Grove, St. Francis and all of the surrounding metro area cities. Please call our office with any questions, comments or concerns regarding your dog or cat.