A: Appropriate preparation will help you avoid most of the common behavior problems associated with travel. The first step is to be sure your dog is properly crate trained. If not, take the time to make the crate a pleasant place for your dog to stay. As natural den dwellers, dogs can be comfortable acclimated to crates with positive rewards and frequent, short confinements. Crate training will allow you to bring your dog’s “den” on the road. Crates keep dogs safe and confined during car and airplane travel. Anxious pets wandering around a car are dangers to themselves and their traveling companions. Crates also ensure your vacation property will not be damaged by an anxious chewer.
If you have a particularly nervous or anxious dog, your veterinarian may consider prescribing a daily anti-anxiety pill for you to give for the next 6-8 weeks. It is important to start these drugs several weeks before the stressful event for the best result. You may also consider using “dog appeasing” pheromone sprays or collars that can help comfort a dog. These pheromone products can be brought along in the car or used in a vacation home.
If car sickness is a concern, speak to your veterinarian. A relatively new anti-nausea medication, called Cerenia, is highly effective at preventing vomiting. There are several other anti-nausea medications or tranquilizers that may be appropriate for your dog. Some are even over the counter. Since individuals respond quite differently to these drugs, it is usually wise to try a few test doses before you really need them to work.
When you are traveling, be sure to provide adequate fresh water, regular feedings, and appropriate chances to exercise and use the bathroom. Protection from extreme heat, cold, wind, and rain are also essential.
Many travel locations bring differences in the types of parasites or infectious diseases your pets may be exposed to. It is wise to discuss the best way to reduce the risks long before travel. Sometimes a certain vaccine may be advised for a particular region. Frequently, more waterproof insect and tick control may be desired for beaches and lakes. Camping and hiking may require a pet-safe insect repellant that may be different than the usual flea and tick control.
Finally, be sure you have a current health certificate from a USDA accredited veterinarian before you bring any animal across state lines. Many pet owners are unaware of the federal law that requires this paperwork. Health certificates are not just required for air travel. Ask your veterinarian if he is USDA accredited. If so, he will be happy to discuss the details of interstate health certificates with you. Generally, they must be issued within thirty days of travel.