It’s August already?! I can’t believe how quickly this summer is passing us by. We have been very lucky to have incredible weather over the past few months and many of my furry friends have been taking holiday, along with their two-legged human companions. I thought I might take this opportunity to address a few things every pet owner should think about when traveling with pets, whether out of town, or just around the neighborhood!

Whenever I think of dogs in cars I picture the happy dog with his ears flapping in the wind and his tongue hanging out – loving the breeze from the open window. Of course, in reality, this isn’t really the safest way for your pet to travel in the car. There are now a variety of seat belts made just for dogs so that your furry companion can be strapped in safely should there ever be trouble on the road. Remember as well that, depending on your vehicle, the airbags in the front of your car can be very dangerous to your smaller dog, the same way they can be with small children. Sometimes it is safer for very small dogs and of course cats to travel in a carrier where they are enclosed and more protected for the journey.

Depending on where you are traveling with pets, there could be dangers lurking that your pet is not normally exposed to. Be sure to have the proper heartworm, flea and tick medication on board to keep them safe no matter where you end up, and remember that being up-to-date on vaccines is not only critical for their safety as they make new furry friends but also mandatory if traveling to the US or overseas.

If you are flying be sure to check well in advance that the airline will allow your pet to travel with you. Also look into additional restrictions and requirements like mandatory titres for vaccines, airline approved carriers and destination specific requirements (usually found on the embassy website).

If you are going out-of-town be sure to confirm that you have pet-friendly locations to stay. Many hotels now promote this feature and some even go a step further and advertise themselves as a holiday destination for you and your pets. You can get a list of pet-friendly travel spots by checking out www.aaawa.com/petspot.

Anytime you are away from home there is the possibility your pet may get lost. I always encourage microchipping as a fast and easy way of guaranteeing your pet can be identified should they ever become lost or stolen. As the chips we use are universal, they can be scanned anywhere and still help to reunite you with your companion.

Of course, while traveling is fun for us, our pets don’t always agree. If you have a pet who gets anxious in the car or even car sick, please ask us for solutions available to make the ride comfortable for all! There are many options to keep your pet happy and stress free and we can work with you to identify what’s right for you!

Lastly, as a veterinarian it breaks my heart every year to hear stories of pets being left alone in vehicles on hot days. Every summer I hope that this will be the year we don’t hear about a single case, but sure enough, the news will report on a dog in a mall parking lot and I feel terrible thinking about what that dog must have gone through. This year the OSPCA has launched a “No Hot Pets” campaign and I am a proud supporter of this movement. Along with the campaign they launched a new phone number that can be used anywhere in the province, 24/7 for people to report a neglect or cruelty issue. I encourage all of you to keep this number handy and use it should you ever worry about an animal in distress. 310-SPCA is easy to remember and will hopefully enable everybody to help keep pets safe across the province!

I hope that all of you enjoy the last few months of summer with your pets whether you are vacationing or “stay-cationing.” Please don’t forget to post any great travel or holiday pet pics on our Facebook page and remember, our team is always here to answer any questions or concerns you may have.