Tips for Safe and Healthy Travel

Everyone wants to focus on the fun of a vacation, but a little advance planning of practical aspects can save a lot of fear and frustration (and maybe a life!) later, in case something goes wrong.

Not long ago I was traveling across the country with Pepper, my beloved pet Labrador. Pepper has been my close friend and traveling buddy since I got her as a puppy 3 years ago.

Healthy Travel

We were on a stretch of road in west Texas when Pepper started wheezing. She had never done anything like that before, and I was concerned. My concern turned to near-panic when her breathing became even more labored, and I could see she was in serious trouble. I pulled over to check on her, but she wasn’t choking on anything and I didn’t know how to help her. I grabbed my cell phone … no reception.

I had no idea what to do, but I knew out in the middle of nowhere I wasn’t going to be able to help her, so I got back on the road and rushed to I-didn’t-know-where. There was an exit coming up, and a little gas station there, so I pulled in. Thankfully, the attendant didn’t think I was crazy, started making phone calls for me, and put me in touch with a vet clinic that was less than 10 miles away.

I rushed Pepper there, and two men in white medical lab coats picked her up and carried her into the back. The story had a happy ending – it turns out Pepper was having an acute asthma attack, and while it WAS an emergency, they were able to stabilize her. Now I have medications to (hopefully!) keep it under control. Her attack was most likely triggered by something in the air that she hadn’t been exposed to before.

Healthy Travel

Of course, I’m so glad what could have been a tragedy turned out alright.

So, what can you do to protect your pets, your children, and even yourself when traveling in case of an emergency?

The National Institute of Health recommends the following precautions

Check with your insurance company before traveling to find out what coverages you have. Make sure to bring insurance information with you, and consider traveler’s insurance if needed
Make sure you have any medications you will need for the duration of your trip, and keep it with you in a carry-on rather than checking it
Try to research health care in the country you are visiting if you travel abroad, and if possible, know where you will go if you need help. (Often your hotel can be very helpful with this information)
Bring immunization and health records, and contact information for your physician(s) and pharmacist
Find out if you will need to update any immunizations 4-6 weeks before you travel
Know what precautions to take for the area you are visiting, such as whether any foods or liquids may be unsafe, prevention of mosquito bites, whether traveler’s diarrhea is common at that destination and how to prevent/treat it
When you arrive at your destination, find out how to contact emergency services if it should become necessary
A first aid kit and sunscreen are sensible items to pack as well.

And for traveling safely with pets:

Bring proof of the pet’s vaccinations, and contact information for your veterinarian
Pack enough of the pet’s regular food so that they don’t have to change during the trip, if it is a food that might not be available locally. It can be a good idea to bring jugs of water from home as well
Have a carrier for the pet and get them used to being inside it before they leave, so they have a safe haven to retreat to and you have a way to restrain them
Harnesses and leashes are a good idea for cats who might otherwise easily escape and run away in panic. Of course leashes are essential for dogs as well.
Never leave pets in a car when the weather is warm, as the temperatures can quickly become too much for them (and it may be illegal in some places as well)
Make sure to bring any medications the pet may need
A veterinary visit before traveling can be a wise precaution, since pets often hide early signs of illness until it becomes more serious
We hope these precautions help our readers to have a healthy and safe trip!