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Remember Pets' Needs During Holiday Travel
By Amy Woolfolk
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When it comes time to pack up the kids, the luggage and the gifts for that trip to Grandma's house, do not forget about family pets and their special needs.
Dr. Richard Hopper, veterinarian with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said that while most pets travel well, there are several things pet owners need to think about before leaving home.
"If you will be traveling through or staying in another state, find out it that state has special animal health requirements or requires that a copy of vaccination records accompany an animal," Hopper said. "This is especially important if you will be crossing the Canadian border. Ask a local veterinarian about requirements for states you will travel through."
While on the road, most pets should travel fine in a kennel for up to four or five hours, Hopper said. After that length of time, pets need to get out of the kennel for exercise and water. If a pet tends to get excited or sick when traveling, a veterinarian can prescribe a treatment for motion sickness.
"If your pet is on some type of medication, make sure you have enough to last the entire trip," Hopper said. "Your veterinarian can write a prescription for you to have in case of emergencies. For older pets with health problems, it is a good idea to keep a copy of the animal's health records with you when you travel."
Hopper said pet owners need to think about overnight accommodations for animals during the trip. Ask about hotel pet policies before making reservations.
"Many hotels allow small, house-trained pets to stay in rooms, but may have restrictions against larger animals," the veterinarian said. "If you will stay with family or friends who have pets, consider whether or not your pets and theirs will be compatible."
When traveling with pets is not an option, Hopper said there are other options for caring for pets.
"Boarding clinics and house sitters are probably your best option, but lengthy stays can get expensive," he said. "Instead, you might want to consider having a neighbor or a responsible person check on you pet twice a day."
Hopper said not to worry if hectic holiday plans will alter a pet's feeding schedule. One missed meal will not hurt meat-eaters such as dogs or cats, but try to avoid missed feedings. The veterinarian said older pets or pets with health problems may not be as flexible and may need special attention.
Contact: Dr. Richard Hopper, (601) 325-2194