Ah, Thanksgiving. Time for coziness and merriment, neighborly greetings and pie, winter sweaters and—what? The dog peed on the rug? Holiday time is full of love and laughs, but do you have your best pet friend’s needs in mind? Packing up the family can mean something entirely different when your dog, cat, or iguana is along for the ride! Here are some super tips to take with you this Thanksgiving and holiday season!
Several weeks before your trip visit your veterinarian to make sure your pet is healthy for travel and up-to-date on all vaccinations. Inquire if there are any additional vaccinations recommended based on where you’re headed.
Before you leave home, locate the nearest veterinarian or 24-hour emergency hospital in the town or area where you’ll be staying. Save the number to your phone. Hopefully you won’t need to visit, but being prepared in case of an emergency is definitely the way to go.
Make sure your pet is wearing a collar and current ID tags and has a microchip. Make and attach a temporary ID tag with the information of the place you’re staying as well. Make sure the info on it is current.
Pack up your pet’s favorite toy, blanket, and bed to keep him surrounded by familiar items while away from home. Don’t forget food, litter, litter box, bowls, water, treats, and any other things that are part of your pet’s regular routine.
If your pet is on any medication bring enough for a few extra days as well as a prescription in case you need a refill.
Make frequent rest stops to prevent accidents from occurring in the car. Remember to always keep your pet on leash when exiting your vehicle.
Do not leave your animal in a parked car, even with the windows cracked. Temperatures inside a car can soar to well over 100 degrees in less than 10 minutes—even on cooler-feeling days. This places your pet at risk for heatstroke and possibly death.
If you are travelling across state lines bring a copy of your pet’s medical records, specifically a rabies vaccination record. Some states require proof of vaccination at certain crossings.
During your pit stops be sure to provide your pet with some fresh water to wet their whistle. Occasionally traveling can upset your pet's stomach. Take along ice cubes, which are easier on your pet than large amounts of water.
Watch the food intake. It is recommended that you keep feeding to a minimum during travel. Be sure to feed them their regular pet food and resist the temptation to give them some of your fast food burger or fries (that never has a good ending!). Skip the car food. No pizza crusts or ice cream. Your pet may be tempted with table food while you’re visiting, so make sure he stays on his regular diet.
No heads out the window! Although many pets find that sticking their head out the window is the best part of the road trip, it's not safe. Your pet can easily be injured by flying debris. This should go without saying, but NEVER travel with a pet in the back of a pickup truck. Some states have laws restricting such transport and it is always dangerous—this holiday season some states are fining up to $1,000 for drivers with pets on their laps. Keep pets safely restrained inside, in a carrier, or in an area away from you, and with a seat belt if possible. This is for your safety as well as theirs.
If you're flying, research your airline. Some major airlines will now recognize your four-legged traveler. If you are flying to for the holiday, find out your airline's policy!
Enjoying your stay!
When you and your pet arrive, introduce him slowly to any other pets—after he has had a chance to adjust. For cats, keep yours in a separate room—perhaps where you are sleeping—for a few hours, and then slowly let him see the other pets in the house. When introducing dogs, make sure yours is on a leash and give them outdoor meeting space so all parties have room to check each other out.
Spend extra time with your pet before getting on with the party! Make sure he's had a chance to go to the bathroom outside before things get too exciting. Set up his bed, blanket, or toys in a place that he can call his own and then spend a few minutes in that space with him. Once he's had time to be with you and the familiar things you've brought along he'll be ready to go around the rest of the house and see what's going on. Take him exploring in a calm manner, and introduce him all the new people!
Check in with your hosts! Knowing how the people in house are doing can make a huge difference in keeping everything calm and happy. Ask about any pertinent restrictions like new furniture or rooms that are off limits. Make sure the hosts know that you want to help with anything that will make it easier to have your pet around. Ask if there's anything you can bring in advance (like extra bed sheets, blankets, or cleaning supplies) that will help be respectful and appreciative of being in their home.
Let family members, friends, and guests know if your pet has any behavioral issues, diet restrictions, medical conditions, etc., so everyone will know how to get along with him best. You want to create an environment where everyone can be informed and comfortable!
Do not feed your pets human food. There are many holiday foods, including fatty meats, gravies, poultry skin, bones, chocolate, coffee, and alcohol that can cause illnesses from vomiting, diarrhea and other toxic reactions. In large doses onions, grapes, and raisins are also toxic to your pet.
Take your dog on regular walks. This gives him a break from his new surroundings and is a way to work in some exercise. It will help reduce stress and allow you to both have some down time.
Do not leave your pet alone in the house with other guests unless you feel it is truly safe and comfortable for all. When your pet is away from you in a strange, new place, his behavior can change. You both want to be invited back next year!
Keep your pets indoors during extremely cold weather. Dogs and cats can develop a very low body temperature (hypothermia) and frost bite just like we can! Pets should not be kept outside for prolonged periods and should be brought in when the weather dips below 40F. When the weather falls below 20F it’s best for pets to stay inside.
Know when to leave your pets at home. Our pets are family, and the thought of leaving them behind is often heartbreaking. But as much as we all love to have the whole family together, there are times when it's better—and safer—to leave them in good care elsewhere. If your travel means they'll be spending the whole time cooped up in a hotel room or off-limits somewhere in the house, or if your pet is antisocial, aggressive, anxious, or has a condition that makes them fragile, then everyone—especially your pet—will be happier staying at home.
VESCONE wishes you all happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving travel. And we'll be open 24/7 for you and your guests if you have any questions or problems! Give us a call at 781-684-8387 if there's anything we can do. Warm wishes for a fantastic holiday!
Emergencies and disasters have affected many of us around the country this past year. This past week, the Midwest has had string of tornadoes. This past summer, in our neck of the woods, western MA also experienced tornadoes. As Massachusetts residents, we are used to unpredictable and bad weather.
March 9th 2012: Reunited with his beloved dog, Alabama tornado victim Greg Cook cries with joy. Photo Credit: AP Photo/The Decatur Daily, Gary Cosby Jr.
However, whether you have one pet or a household full of pets, it is important to be prepared for any emergency. We asked Dr. Amy Shroff, Practice Owner of VESCONE and Chair of the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association’s Emergency & Disaster Preparedness Committee to give us some tips on how to best manage a disaster or emergency with pets.
Here is a checklist of things you should consider before an emergency strikes.
- What is your evacuation plan for your family and pets?
- Do you have a pet first aid kit?
- Where can you stay for emergency or temporary housing?
- Do you know where your nearest 24 hour emergency veterinary hospital like VESCONE is located?
- Do you have 3 days’ worth of food, medication, bedding and supplies for your pet ready in the event you need to leave your home quickly?
- In the event something should happen to you and/or you are away from your pet, do you have an emergency contact who also knows your pet and his or her needs?
The better prepared you are, the better other aid organizations like the Red Cross or SMART (State of MA Animal Response Team) can help should you need it.
We also recommend that pet owners have:
- pet insurance
- be up to date on all of their pet’s vaccinations--including rabies
- have an accurately registered microchip
- have name and address tags on their pets collar
- carry a Pet ID info card on you at all times
A Pet ID card is a handy small card you can keep in your wallet or glove compartment that contains all of your pet’s emergency contact info, rabies back dates, and veterinary information all in one place.
VESCONE offers these cards at our Pet First Aid classes. Please see our website for more information about our First Aid Classes for Pet Owners http://www.vescone.com/for-pet-owners/first-aid-classes/.
For more information about emergency and disaster preparedness, please visit these websites: