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What To Do If Your Pet Gets Sick While Traveling

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!

Tips If Your Pet Gets Sick While Traveling

What To Do If Your Pet Gets Sick While Traveling

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.

GoPetFriendly Road Trip Planner

Locating Veterinarians on Road Trip Planner

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!

Ty in Hospital

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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  • I’m so glad you’ve found our tips helpful, Jessy! We’ve been traveling full-time with Ty and Buster for almost six years now, and we’ve made several visits to veterinarians along the way – it’s always worked out really well. The dogs have gotten great care, and we’ve been really happy with the service. There are a lot of wonderful veterinarians out there – but hopefully you won’t need one! Waggin’ trails!

  • Jessy Shaw says:

    My husband and I love to travel with our dog but I am always worried about him getting sick. We haven’t ever had too many issues but being prepared definitely helps. Knowing where the nearest animal hospital is wherever you are going can offer so peace of mind in case something does happen. We will use these tips on our next trip, thank you for sharing! http://www.chadwellanimalhospital.com/about-us/the-hospital/

  • Thanks, Ash! That one comes from personal experience. =)

  • Helpful and practical. Especailly with the muzzle suggestion. Good point, gal!

  • That’s always the hope. Being a worrier by nature, planning ahead is always helpful. Now, i need to find places along the way that would actually board my birds, should it be ME that becomes ill along the way!

  • Thanks, and that’s a great point about finding vets that treat birds, JMarilyn. It’s definitely something to be aware of – hopefully you’ll be prepared, but never need it.

  • Great advice! I had not thought about my birds getting sick if I travel with them. And some vets do not treat birds. Researching Avian vets beforehand, would certainly put my mind at ease.

  • Great article! I have a question: the Road trip planner is only for trip in US? Thanks. Treasure of Travelers

  • Melspetpals says:

    I can see where this might be overlooked. Not because it’s not good, but because it’s one of those serious topics people tend to avoid until they have to think about it – usually when they need it most. Very good advice. I hope people notice it this time around. 

    • Thanks Mel. I agree, there are no gorgeous photos or descriptions of quaint places – it’s definitely not as much fun as most of our other posts. But, having the dogs get sick while we were traveling was really stressful and I was hoping to help a few other people by passing on what we learned.

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