Dr. Julie Bailey offers insights on how travelers can keep their pets safe during air travel. She is medical director and dean of Becker College’s School of Animal Studies & Natural Sciences, where she holds the Allerton Chair of Animal Health Sciences.
Most importantly, Bailey notes, travelers need to plan ahead--and too many air travelers with pets fail to anticipate the need for advance planning. “For any air travel you will need a health certificate signed by your veterinarian, in most cases, issued within 10 days of travel,” she says. “International travel requires significant advanced planning, including a USDA health certificate--and it is critical that you check with and adhere to both the airline’s rules and the regulatory rules of the country you are flying in to.”
While some airlines have similar rules, she says it’s best to always check with the airline on specific requirements as they vary, and can sometimes change, since your last flight.
Thinking about sedating your dog or cat? Last-minute drug plans are a bad idea, according to Dr. Bailey.
“Talk to your veterinarian about sedative options well before your date of travel if you are worried about anxiety or disruptive behavior in your pet during travel,” Bailey advises. “Any sedative needs to be tried prior to the actual trip as every pet reacts differently to sedatives and some pets even become more anxious or disruptive.”
Also, she says it is wise to avoid feeding your pet just before or during travel to reduce the likelihood of motion sickness. “Do bring food and water bowls with you so that you will be able to offer your pet food and water when you arrive,” she says. “Typically for shorter trips it is best to avoid placing any food or water in the carrier with your pet as it will likely spill.”
The animal-studies scholar says to also keep in mind that temperature fluctuations happen on flights. “Follow guidelines of both the airline and your veterinarian in terms of suitable temperatures for pets to travel,” she says, noting that uncomfortable travel is bad for pets, just as it is for humans. “Always travel with a comfortable, secure carrier for your pet,” she adds, emphasizing the importance of keeping your pet secure all times during travel.
“Consider a microchip for identification in case your pet ever escaped and was lost,” she says. “Always keep your contact information current that is associated with your pet’s microchip, and remember that a microchip is only useful if the contact information that they have on record for you is accurate.”
Becker College’s Animal Studies program http://www.becker.edu/academics/departments-programs/animal-science has earned a reputation as a leader in the field. Nationally, Becker College is one of the top 10 largest producers of undergraduate veterinary technology degrees among four-year institutions, and is one of only two private colleges in New England to offer AVMA-accredited undergraduate programs in veterinary technology.
More information on Dr. Julie Bailey, DVM, of the School of Animal Studies and Natural Sciences at Becker College in Leicester, Mass., can be found at http://www.becker.edu/academics/departments-programs/animal-science/faculty-staff/julie-bailey