traveling with a sick pet

What to Consider When Traveling with a Sick Pet

Traveling with any pet requires prep work before you hit the road. Traveling with a sick pet (one with a chronic illness or motion sickness) can make traveling more complicated.

You’ll want to make travel as smooth as possible to ensure your pet’s safety and comfort. In the case of infectious disease, you must also factor in the safety of others. Let’s explore the steps to take and other scenarios that may come up when traveling with a sick pet.

When You Must Go, Check with Your Vet First

Have your veterinarian do an assessment of your pet’s readiness for travel. Some pets may be safer if left with a trusted pet caretaker or boarding facility, so consider all of your options. It’s hard to be away from a pet, but it may be in their best interest to leave them in good care.

Your vet team can advise whether it is safe for your pet to travel and any additional medications or cautions needed for the journey. If your destination is overseas, across state lines, or requires air travel, your pet will also require a certificate of health from your veterinarian.

Top Tips for Safe Travels with a Sick Pet

If you and your veterinarian decide that it is okay for your pet to travel, take the following precautions to make the trip enjoyable (or at least less painful).

  • Take all medications with you and make sure prescriptions are up to date, in the event you must refill them while traveling.
  • Have a list (or app in your phone) for local animal emergency hospitals that are within range of where you’re staying or along your way.
  • Keep a copy of your pet’s medical records with you.
  • Have a Pet First Aid Kit on hand, which is useful, whether pets are ill or not.
  • Plan to stop more frequently for rest and potty breaks, and to check on how your pet is handling the travel.
  • Pack for comfort – a favorite blanket, plenty of cushy pads, a carrier or crate, anti-nausea medications, Bach’s flower essences for anxiety, etc.
  • Pack your pet’s regular food and treats, as any disruption in what your pet eats may result in digestive upset.
  • Monitor your pet’s comfort (or discomfort). Are they cold, warm, anxious?
  • You may need to pack a supply of puppy pads, floor liners or seat protectors since an ill pet may become incontinent. Have wet wipes handy.

Traveling with a Contagious Pet

If your pet has an illness that is contagious, you will need to take additional steps to keep from spreading disease to other animals. Consult your veterinarian for information on the rules of travel with contagious pets. It may not be legal to do so in some situations.

If your pet’s immune system is compromised, keep in mind that travel can expose them to new illnesses and parasites. Decide whether your destination is a safe place for your pet or whether it is best that your pet travel with you.

Traveling with a Dog That Gets Car Sick

If you dog is susceptible to being sick in the car, try a few of these tips:

  • Have your dog face forward in the seat
  • Lower car windows to equalize pressure
  • Keep the car cool
  • Limit food and water before and during travel

If your pet’s motion sickness is triggered by anxiety, gradually build up their tolerance and acceptance of car rides, if possible, before your trip.

Traveling with a Chronically Sick Pet

The reality is, many pets are living for years with chronic illness or conditions. A diabetic pet, for example, may need injections or a special diet to maintain a good quality of life. But there is no reason that a pet dealing with a chronic condition must be relegated to staying at home. If you manage your pet’s condition, they’ll be a lot happier traveling with you.

The important thing is to make sure you cover all of your bases before travel and keep a close eye on how your pet is doing along the way. Your team at OVRS can give you additional recommendations if you contact us or get a referral from your veterinarian. Depending on the nature of your pet’s illness, we can provide the expertise and information to make sure that your pet travels safely.

Safe travels and bon voyage!