Sparky, a Labrador retriever, is a devoted four-legged family member. Sparky’s family is planning a camping trip in Colorado, and contemplating whether taking him along is a good idea. Sparky loves the outdoors, is a great hiking companion, and would alert them if anyone came into their camp. However, his family is concerned that Sparky may get lost, pick up ticks or diseases, or become ill. After careful deliberation, they decide to bring him along. They used the following six tips to include Sparky in their travel plans.

#1: Explore travel accommodations for your pet

The first step for Sparky’s family was to ensure he would be welcome at their trip destination. Sparky’s family checked the bring fido website to search for dog-friendly campgrounds, and to find dog-friendly motels or restaurants en route. Once they decided on specific locations, they called to verify that Sparky would be welcome. Sparky’s family also purchased a collapsible travel kennel to keep him contained whenever they could not fully attend to him.  

#2: Schedule a pre-travel veterinary exam for your pet

Sparky’s family made an appointment at Somerset Animal Hospital for a wellness exam, and to ensure protection from infectious diseases. Sparky received an update on necessary vaccinations, flea and tick preventives, a heartworm test, and heartworm preventive. Because they would be crossing state lines into Colorado, Sparky required a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) no more than 30 days before entry, and a current copy of his rabies certificate. If Sparky was traveling by air, or overseas, additional certification would be required.

#3: Provide good identification for your pet

Sparky has a microchip, and his family contacted the microchip company to confirm his identification information. A microchip can be easily scanned by a shelter or veterinary clinic if Sparky went missing and lost his collar. They examined his collar for excessive wear, and got a new name tag because the old one was barely readable. Sparky’s family also added a temporary tag, with the name and phone number of the campground where they would be staying. Lastly, they brought along a current color photo of Sparky in case he got lost.

#4: Ensure safe car travel for your pet

Sparky likes to ride in the car, but tends to move around, and enjoys putting his head outside the window. Sparky’s family bought him a sturdy travel harness to secure him with a seatbelt in the back seat. They first tried on the harness during short car rides, checking that Sparky could sit or lie down comfortably. The family made a note to ensure his water bowl and water were in the car, and planned to make extra stops for Sparky. They knew that leaving him alone in the car could put him at risk of heatstroke, and planned to keep him with them at all times.

#5: Pack travel supplies for your pet

Sparky is on allergy medication, and his family securely packed an adequate supply for the trip. When they brought Sparky for his pre-travel appointment, our Somerset Animal Hospital team prescribed medications for possible car sickness and stress-related diarrhea, and suggested items that should be included in a basic pet first aid kit. Sparky’s food for the trip was measured out to accommodate his normal meals, with a few extra days’ supply in case they were delayed. Sparky’s travel bag included his food bowl, leash, bed, chews, and favorite toys. 

#6: Be prepared for pet emergencies

An essential part of planning for Sparky’s travel included research on local veterinary hospitals in case of an emergency. Sparky’s family used the AAHA hospital locator and found a veterinary hospital only 30 minutes from the campground, as well as additional hospitals en route. Sparky’s travel file included a copy of his complete vaccination history, pertinent medical information, the Somerset Animal Hospital phone number, and contact information for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

How was the camping trip? Sparky and his family had a great time, and the careful planning prevented any serious problems. Sparky’s family was grateful for the car sickness medication when Sparky showed nausea signs on the mountain roads, and was also relieved that Sparky’s updated identification allowed for a speedy reunion after he chased a squirrel from their campsite. Sparky is now a seasoned traveler, and his family is looking forward to another trip with him next year.

If you are considering travel with your pet, don’t hesitate to contact our Somerset Animal Hospital team for a pre-travel appointment. We are here to help your four-legged travel companion stay healthy and safe.