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Vacations and Pets

This year we’re taking our dog on vacation with us. Any suggestions for traveling with him to make his trip (and ours) a success?

The veterinarian in me says remember to bring your pet’s flea, tick and heartworm medications, and make sure vaccinations are up to date prior to exposing your pet to strange places, people and dogs along the road.

Sedatives for travel, although a popular request from my clients, are usually not very effective. Either your dog loves to travel or hates it, and no drug is really going to change that. If you’re travelling with a high anxiety pooch, the best you may be able to hope for is that she’ll calm down once you reach your destination.

The overprotective daddy in me, adds to consider bringing a copy of your pet’s medical records in case you need to make an emergency stop at a veterinarian along the road, and make sure your pet’s microchip information is up to date (your pets do all have microchips, right?)

If you’re unsure how your dog will act on a long car trip, take a few shorter test trips around town far in advance to see how she reacts to travel. Always ensure your pets are all properly restrained, either in a doggy seatbelt or inside a pet carrier. Use a harness for walks, or a six foot slip leash that will automatically tighten and not fall off her head if she gets scared during potty breaks and tries to make a run for it.

Drive safe and happy travels!

Submitted by Greg Magnusson, DVM, Owner, Leo’s Pet Care Veterinary Clinic

I’m boarding my dog for the first time while our family goes on vacation. What do I need to look for in a quality kennel?

If I were going on vacation I would visit a couple different kennels to make sure the facilities were clean and odor free and ask a few questions:

How much outside time do the dogs get each day? It’s important for dogs to get outside as much as possible for potty breaks. This will keep the pet clean and ensure potty training habits remain intact. Green space is good! Ask about the daily routine. Daily structure and routine is important in a kennel environment. Dogs thrive on consistent routine. All boarding facilities are different. Get a feel for their daily routine.

How much one to one play time do the dogs receive? Interacting with humans is important for dogs. Dogs are dependent by nature and thrive on human interaction. Does the kennel offer any other personal one to one time? The more your dog interacts with a human the better.

What kind of playtime is offered and how long does it last? A dog who plays all day sleeps all night. A tired dog is a good dog. Is group play available as an option? Some dogs are more social than others. I would make sure group play is available but not mandatory.

Is your facility climate controlled? Summers are hot in Indiana and winters are cold. Extreme temperatures can be harmful in a boarding environment. How do you handle emergency situations? Every boarding facility should have a relationship with a local vet and a well thought out process for handling emergencies. Finally, ask if you can bring your dog’s own food? Most dogs board better on their own food and changing their diet can cause diarrhea.

Submitted by Kevin DeTrude, General Manager, Beverly’s Precious Pets, LLC

We would like to hire a pet-sitting service to take care of our animals at home while we’re away. I’m a little concerned about someone being in our house that I don’t know well. What do I need to consider before hiring someone?

That’s an excellent question. You need to make sure the pet sitter is insured, qualified and check their website for reviews/references. Be cautious of any pet sitting service that does this as a hobby rather than a profession. They should always offer a one-time free consultation before the homeowner agrees to the service. This gives everyone an opportunity to meet and get comfortable with each other.

The pet sitter should have the pet’s best interest in mind and want to become familiar with the pet’s daily routine. This will keep things running as normal as possible. They should want to make your house look cared for while you’re away. After your meeting with the pet sitter, do you and your pet feel comfortable with the sitter and is the sitter comfortable with you and your pet? Animals are the best judge of character; so trust them!

Submitted by Meg Westerman of Meg’s Pet Check

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