Pets get sick. We hate to even think about it – yet, it’s part of our responsibility as pet parents. Illnesses or accidents that require a visit to the vet are hard enough when you’re home, but it’s a bit more complicated when you’re traveling.
Over the years, we’ve had to make plenty of trips to the veterinarian with Ty and Buster. A little advanced planning has saved us a lot of stress … we hope these tips give you something to think about … and that you’ll never have to use them!
1. Pack a good first aid kit. Whether you purchase one, or assemble it yourself, you’ll have everything you 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. Talk to your vet about the proper dosages for common medications (like antihistamine or aspirin) that your pet might need to take. There are also some handy books and videos out there that walk you through the steps to help your pet in the most common emergency situations.
2. Take you pet’s medical records. In an emergency, remembering your name, much less the details of your pets’ medical history, will be a challenge. Before you leave, scan their medical records and store them on a flash drive. It’s easy to pack, and the attending veterinarian will be able to access all the information they’ll need with no problem.
3. Don’t forget your veterinarian’s contact information and fax number. The attending veterinarian may have questions for your vet, or may want to send follow up reports and instructions. Providing the contact information will save time that could be dedicated to your pet’s care.
4. Have a muzzle that your dog is comfortable in. Many emergency hospitals don’t allow you to accompany your pet into the exam area. Some dogs, when they’re in pain, in an unfamiliar setting, and surrounded by strangers, may react and “defend” themselves. If it’s necessary to use a muzzle for the safety of the staff, having your dog used to wearing “his” muzzle will help reduce his stress.
5. Know where the emergency veterinary hospital is located. You probably know right where to take your pet in an emergency when you’re at home, but when you’re traveling you’ll need to research the area’s veterinary hospitals, and make note of their location and hours. If you’re using our pet friendly road trip planner, it’s easy to locate veterinarians along your route, and it will save you time when every minute counts.
6. Rely on friends or your social network for veterinary recommendations. A few years ago Ty came down with a fever and was dehydrated while we were visiting a major city. There was no trouble finding a vet – in fact, there were so many we didn’t know which to choose! Having a personal recommendation always helps, so we posted our dilemma on Twitter, and within minutes got a suggestion for a local vet. The doctor was able to squeeze us in on a Saturday morning, and the care we got was fantastic.
7. Determine the visitation policy. Though emergency veterinary hospitals are unlikely to accommodate you in the trauma area, they may allow you to visit your pet when she’s stabilized. Once, when Ty needed to be observed overnight, the hospital staff allowed me to sit with him outside the kennel any time they weren’t treating another emergency case. It made us both feel better!
The emotions and stress of an emergency often make it difficult to think clearly, but a little preparation will ensure you’re able to give your pets the best care possible. And, we hope it’s kind of like grabbing an umbrella on a day with a chance of showers – if you take it, it won’t rain for sure!
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