There’s no place like home for the holidays, especially here in the Hudson Valley! We are blessed with fresh, wintery cold air that makes for excellent snuggling conditions with our four-legged family members in front of a warm woodstove or under the blankets. Our surroundings receive a frosty makeover as the first snowfall of the season blankets the landscape. Why even the thought of joining the throngs of holiday shoppers in search of the perfect gift isn’t as daunting, when there’s a cup of hot chocolate to look forward to afterward. However, if wanderlust gets the better of you; and you find yourself packing your suitcase in pursuit of adventures abroad, I hope you find the following information useful as you prepare for your seasonal travels…be it with or without your furry friends!
The first thing to consider is whether you will be taking your pet(s) with you. For those of you hitting the highways with your pets, evaluate your vehicle. Pets should never be allowed to roam freely in a moving vehicle. Similar to securing ourselves in the car, pets should either be placed in a carrier or secured with a pet-friendly seat belt. If you are travelling by air, consider a pet-friendly airline. Avoid placing your pet underneath the plane. Poor ventilation, extreme temperatures, and the loud noise generated by the plane’s engines can have devastating, and sometimes deadly, consequences.
If you know that your pet becomes anxious while travelling, consult with your veterinarian about administering anti-anxiety medication during the trip so that both you and your pet have a less stressful experience.
Always bring your pet’s regular food with you to avoid stomach and intestinal upset. It is also a good idea to carry an extra supply of your pet’s medication and a copy of your pet’s medical records. Lastly, for all interstate and international travel, whether by land or air, a health certificate, provided by your veterinarian, is required. This certificate serves as your pet’s vaccination record and states that your pet is free of all contagious diseases.
If you choose to travel without your furry family members, consider whether it is best for them to stay at home with a pet sitter or to stay at a local boarding facility. Young, active pets may benefit from staying at a kennel that offers playtime with other pets that are boarding. Anxious pets, may be most content if left at home with a pet sitter where their daily routine can be closely adhered to. Elderly pets or those with serious medical needs may be safest if they board at their veterinarian’s clinic/hospital. Ask your veterinarian for reliable pet sitters or kennels in your area.
Wherever you choose to board your pet, make sure that they are fully up-to-date on their vaccinations. As many of you may already know, respiratory infections, such as infectious tracheobronchitis (a.ka. “kennel cough”) and canine influenza, have been widespread among our canine population this season. Upper respiratory viruses, such as herpesvirus and calicivirus, have also been particularly virulent amongst felines this year. In order to provide maximum protection against these respiratory diseases, have your pets vaccinated by your veterinarian 1-2 months prior to boarding. This will allow your pet’s immune system to mount an adequate protective response against these diseases. Vaccines administered immediately prior to your pet’s stay at a kennel provide little protection.
Lastly, always provide your pet sitter or kennel staff with a permission letter should they need to seek medical care for one of your pets while you are away. Alert your veterinarian of your wishes for your pet’s medical care should they need to provide medical assistance/advice in your absence.
Regardless of where you may roam during this festive season, may you and your family, be they four-legged, furry, scaly or feathered have a wonderful, safe, and healthy holiday season! Seasons Greetings to you and your precious ones!
Dr. Downing has been a general practitioner and emergency veterinarian at the Valley Cottage Animal Hospital since 2005. As a co-owner of the hospital, Dr. Downing oversees the emergency side of the practice. She grew up in upstate New York, completing her veterinary education at the NY State Veterinary College at Cornell University. Her professional interests include emergency medicine, ultrasonography and surgery.