Pet Travel: What If Your Dog Gets Sick?

Pets get sick. We hate to even think about it – but it’s part of life. Illnesses or accidents that require a visit to the veterinarian are hard enough when you’re home, but when you’re traveling things are even tougher.

Buster and Ty Ready to RollBuster and Ty Ready to Roll

We’ve made plenty of emergency vet visits, and discovered that a little advanced planning can relieve a lot of stress. Here are our tips … but we hope you’ll never need them.

Pack a good first aid kit. Whether you purchase one or assemble it yourself, it should contain everything you’ll need to deal with minor cuts, splinters, and stomach upset. Take some time to become familiar with the contents of the kit and with basic first aid procedures before you need to use them. There are some handy books and videos available that will walk you through the steps to help your pet in the most common emergency situations.

Take you pet’s medical records. In an emergency, remembering your name, much less the details of your pet’s medical history, will be a challenge. Before you leave, scan their medical records and store them on a USB or “thumb” drive. It will be easy to pack and the attending veterinarians will be able to access the information they’ll need.

Take your veterinarian’s contact information and fax number. The attending veterinarian may want to call your vet with questions or to fax reports and follow up instructions. Being able to provide them with the contact information will free them up to focus on your pet’s care.

Pack a muzzle and have your pet accustomed to wearing it. Some emergency veterinary hospitals will not allow you to accompany your pet into the exam area. A dog in pain, in an unfamiliar setting, and surrounded by strangers, may react and “defend” himself. If it’s necessary to apply a muzzle for the safety of the staff, getting your pet used to wearing it in advance will help reduce their stress.

Find a vet at your destination. Knowing where the closest emergency veterinary hospital is will save time when every minute counts.

GoPetFriendly Road Trip PlannerLocating Veterinarians on Road Trip Planner

Use your social network to get recommendations. Last year in Minneapolis Ty came down with a fever and was dehydrated. We reached out to our Twitter friends and within minutes got a recommendation for a local vet. The doctor was able to squeeze us in on a Saturday morning and Ty was back on his feet in no time.

Ask for a recommendation at a local pet supply store. I’ve never been a fan of picking a vet out of the phone book and putting Ty or Buster in their hands. Getting a personal recommendation is better – even if I don’t know the person doing the recommending! Last year we were at a remote fishing camp in Ontario when Buster got an eye infection. We were an hour from civilization and had no Internet service. As we headed into the nearest town we saw a pet supply store and dashed in for some help. The clerk we spoke to had pets herself and was able to recommended a vet just down the road who took great care of Buster – even though we showed up with no appointment.

Ty Supporting his Big BrotherTy Supporting his Big Brother

The emotions and stress of an emergency often make it difficult to think clearly. Nailing down a plan in advance means we can give our pets the best care possible. And, we hope it’s like grabbing an umbrella on a day with a chance of showers – if you take it, the rain will hold off for sure!
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