Fido is the perfect travel companion. He doesn’t overpack and loves exploring new places. He also never complains, which is a wonderful quality on the road but not so great if he's dealing with an undiagnosed health issue. To keep your pooch feeling tip-top when he’s away from home, it’s important that you get a pre-trip checkup from his vet. We spoke to Dr. Whitney Miller, Director of Veterinary Medicine at Petco, to learn more about keeping your dog happy and healthy on his next big adventure.
Q: Why should a vet visit be part of your pre-trip preparations?
Dr. Miller: “Seeing a vet before a trip can help protect your dog from risks in new surroundings. I recommend taking your pet for a checkup with their vet no more than two weeks prior to your travel date to receive a clean bill of health. This visit is a good time to ensure all necessary vaccinations are taken care of and any health issues are addressed that could pose a risk in new surroundings. If you’re looking for a new veterinarian, or need another option, at Petco Vet Hospitals you can schedule appointments in advance to make sure you can be seen within that two-week window. If your vet has indicated your dog is due for a vaccination, you can also visit an on-site Vetco Vaccination Clinic, which does not require an appointment, to ensure your dog’s immunizations are in order.
“Just as you would with your own medication, it’s also important to ensure you have enough doses of your pet’s medications to cover the duration of your trip, plus a few extra doses just in case some are lost or damaged in transit. If you need a health certificate for where you are traveling to, check within what time frame it needs to be completed before booking your vet appointment as requirements can vary by airline, mode of transportation, route and final destination.”
Q: Why is it so important to keep records updated?
Dr. Miller: “Up-to-date records are essential for diagnosing your pet properly should any health issues arise on the road. Getting your pet checked before your trip can also help detect early signs of illness or medical issues that would be difficult or stressful to deal with while away from home.”
Q: What shots and vaccines are common before international travel?
Dr. Miller: “Dogs should always have updated Rabies and Distemper/Parvo combination vaccines, and depending on where you live, could also require others such as Leptovirus, Bordetella, or Canine Influenza. Your veterinarian may recommend additional vaccines for your dog based on the risks of the locations your pet will be traveling to, and through.”
Q: What do you check for when a dog is about to travel?
Dr. Miller: “Especially ahead of active trips, long flights or car rides, we want to confirm that pet parents feel prepared and their pup is in the best shape to handle travel. If a dog has increased anxiety or a tendency to get car sick, their veterinarian may prescribe medications that will make the journey easier. If your pet suffers from anxiety, try giving them Well & Good Calming Chews or Naturvet Hemp Quiet Moments to provide added relief. You should also feed smaller meals and don’t overdo treats before departing and while in transit, which will help avoid motion sickness.”
Q: What is the best advice you can give a dog owner before they walk out the door?
Dr. Miller: “Before hitting the road, research not only your final travel destination but also any stops along the way to see if there are any precautions you should take before bringing your canine companion there. Even if you don’t plan on spending much time at any given location, your pet will likely need to be in the environment for bathroom breaks and to stretch their legs, so knowing if there are issues affecting dogs in the area will help you know how to keep your pet safe.”
Q: Do you have any advice on how to prepare a dog for an active trip?
Dr. Miller: “Ahead of an active trip, make sure that your dog is in good physical shape, has received a clean bill of health from your veterinarian and is equipped with proper gear and apparel for any outdoorsy activities. Products from Reddy are ideal for pets on the go. The Reddy Collapsible Camo Pet Travel Bowl and Camo Canvas Dog Backpack are great for trips packed full of adventures.”
Q: Are there any best practices that dog owners should employ while on vacation?
Dr. Miller: “Traveling to new destinations can make pets a little nervous. Your dog is most comfortable in familiar environments, so while exploring new places can be an exciting adventure, it can also take a toll on them physically and mentally. You can help by providing a comfortable, quiet area to relax after a day on the road or exploring a new place. Because of this, pet parents often bring along their pet’s crate if they are crate trained. Keep familiar objects, like favorite toys, blankets and treats, in that space to help your pet feel safe.”
Q: What are your essential safety tips for dogs on the go?
Dr. Miller: “Along with bringing their up-to-date records, invest in a safety restraint for car travel or a travel-safe kennel . It’s always a good idea to have basic first aid materials available, too. Make sure to bring enough of their normal food, as sudden diet changes can cause upset stomachs . Finally, never leave pets unattended in a vehicle, especially in hot or inclement weather. Conditions can become life threatening for dogs in a very short time when left alone in cars, even if it doesn’t feel too hot outside.”
Q: February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Why does dental health matter for dogs when they’re away from home?
Dr. Miller: “Dental health is important for all dogs, especially those on the go. ‘“Doggie breath’” can be a symptom of a bigger problem, and developing a dental care routine helps prevent disease and supports your pet’s overall wellbeing. Products like Greenies Original Regular Natural Dental Dog Treats , Wholehearted Smart Smiles Dog Dental Treats and Whimzees Small Stix Dog Treats are incredibly helpful in supporting positive dental health and are a travel essential. Your dog’s dental health should be checked by their veterinarian at least once a year. Anesthetized dental cleaning may be recommended if there are concerns.”
Q: How can dog owners help you do your job?
Dr. Miller: “Checking with your veterinarian for trusted vet partners at your travel destination is a good way to give yourself added peace of mind. Planning for the worst-case scenario is never fun, but knowing that a local vet at your destination comes recommended by your pet’s own veterinarian is incredibly reassuring, and they will be able to work together to discuss any pre-existing issues. Your regular vet’s knowledge of your pet’s health history will be very helpful for a local vet to properly diagnose and treat your pet should the need arise.”
Follow Dr. Miller’s tips to make the most of your vacation with your pup. If you do run into any trouble on the road, Petco’s useful “Find a Vet
” feature means you’ll be able to locate a friendly and experienced vet more easily. Once Fido has received the all-clear, adventure awaits! Get ready to switch off from your day-to-day life and bond with your pooch in new surroundings.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Petco.