Pet on Vacation: Travel Hazards and Safety Tips

dog-smilingEach year millions of pets accompany their families on vacation, and with summer approaching, Nationwide reminds pet lovers that the key to safe travels for our furry family members is preparation. Last year, Nationwide members spent more than $36 million to treat the most common travel-related pet injuries and illnesses affecting dogs and cats.

The nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance analyzed its database of more than 750,000 insured pets to determine the most common travel-related medical conditions. Below are the results:

Nationwide encourages pet owners to plan ahead and consider these travel tips to ensure that their dogs and cats are safe during vacation excursions:

  • Pack a recent photo of your pet along with current vaccination records. If your pet becomes lost, having a photograph will make the search easier.
  • Feed your pet a smaller meal before your trip to prevent an upset stomach. Also remember to carry plenty of water to prevent dehydration and offer it at regular intervals. If your pet has severe motion sickness, talk to your veterinarian about medication that can help.
  • Book a pet-friendly hotel. With more than 25,000 hotels in the U.S. allowing pets, there are plenty of properties from which to choose. Don’t assume all pets will be allowed, though as some hotels place limits on the size of the dogs they allow. Call ahead to check that your dog will be welcomed.
  • If traveling by car, secure your pet with a safety harness or a secured, well-ventilated carrier to restrain them in case of a sudden stop or accident. Never transport a pet in the back of an open pickup truck.
  • Never allow your pet hang out the window. Opening the window just a few inches will allow your pet to enjoy the breeze safely without the risk of inhaling debris or being struck by any objects. This will also prevent any temptation your pet may have of jumping out of the car.
  • Bring one or two of your pets’ toys to accompany them during travel. The familiar smells can help comfort your pet and keep them occupied during the trip.
  • Be exceptionally careful about leaving a pet in a car, even for short periods of time. Even with the windows cracked, temperatures in a car can increase drastically.
  • Make sure your pet is wearing identification at all times in case he or she becomes separated or lost. Verify that your pet’s ID tag is up-to-date, durable, and includes your mobile phone number. A microchip is an important addition: it can reunite you with your pet even if a collar and tag are lost or removed, but only if you keep your information current.

“Traveling with our pets can be fun, but it’s important to take the correct steps to ensure they are safe and comfortable,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for Nationwide. “I recommend scheduling a pre-trip appointment with your veterinarian to confirm that your pet is in good health, and that vaccinations are current. If your itinerary includes air travel, ask your veterinarian for a formal pet health certificate which is required by commercial airlines and follow airline and FAA guidelines for your pet’s safety.”


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