Posts Tagged ‘travel’

There is a new strain of Canine Influenza making the rounds in the U.S., and with a nation of travelers, it’s a good idea to protect your dog before the flu arrives in town, according to Dr. Donald Miele, a Norfolk veterinarian.

H3N2 Flu vaccine now available at Little Creek Veterinary Clinic!

Both strains of Canine Flu (H3N8 and H3N2) are commonly contracted where dogs are grouped together for significant periods of time or have nose-to-nose contact, such as at boarding kennels, grooming parlors, doggie daycare, and dog parks. 

The original H3N8 Canine Flu vaccine has been available for a few years. Now that a vaccine for H3N2 is available, many boarding and grooming facilities are requiring it for their canine customers. In response, Little Creek Veterinary Clinic has begun making the new flu vaccine available for patients.

The H3N2 vaccine is given first as a two-dose series,  three weeks apart. After that, a single yearly booster is all that’s needed to keep your dog protected against H3N2. [Severely lapsed vaccines may require the 2-dose regimen to be repeated.]

Contact Us to schedule an appointment to get your pet protected against the H3N2 Canine Flu today!

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Canine Flu vaccine

If you think only people can catch the flu – think again. A flu strain known as H3N8 affects dogs all over America.

Get the facts here, then make an appointment with us to vaccinate your dog for Canine Influenza.

Some quick facts about Canine Flu:

  • Only affects dogs
  • First reported in March 2003, in Florida
  • Highly contagious, especially in kennels, shelters, grooming parlors, dog parks
  • Signs include persistent cough, fever, nasal discharge, lack of energy, lack of appetite
  • Nearly 20% of infected dogs will develop high fever and pneumonia
  • Spread through direct contact; cough or sneeze; contaminated hands, clothing, surfaces

My dog’s records say she’s received the Parainfluenza vaccine already.  That’s the same thing as the H3N8 Flu, right?
No.  Parainfluenza is a different virus, unrelated to the (relatively) newly discovered H3N8.  Your pet’s immune system will know the difference!

My dog is already vaccinated against Bordetella (Kennel Cough.)  Isn’t that the same thing?
No.  Although the symptoms may look the same, the organisms responsible are different.  Bordetella is caused by bacteria; Canine Influenza is caused by a virus.  Vaccinating against one does not provide protection against the other.

How can I tell whether my dog needs the Canine Flu vaccination?
The same situations that call for the Bordetella vaccine, also call for the Flu shot. Check this list* to see which situations apply to your pet:

  • Pet comes from a shelter, rescue group, breeding kennel, pet store
  • Pet boards at a kennel or goes to doggie daycare
  • Pet attends group training classes
  • Pet goes to a groomer, dog parks, or meets other dogs during its daily walks
  • Pet is entered into dog shows
  • Pet comes into contact with other dogs in veterinary clinic or pet store

How many Canine Flu shots does my dog need?
Initially, dogs should receive two Flu shots spaced 2-4 weeks apart; after that, one booster yearly is recommended.

So if my pet gets the Canine Flu shot, it won’t develop the disease?
The Canine Flu vaccine makes it much less likely that your pet will develop the disease.  And if he does get sick, he is more likely to have a mild case and recover more quickly than a dog that has not been vaccinated.

Why did the veterinarian give my dog antibiotics, if the Canine Flu is a virus?
The doctor may opt to treat suspected secondary bacterial infections with antibiotics.  Bacterial infections are often responsible for a thick yellow/green nasal discharge that can accompany the Flu, but there can be other symptoms, as well.   

Remember:  when your pet is sick, its immune system is fighting the primary illness, but it is still vulnerable to other diseases that come along.  In our clinic, we call those secondary infections “opportunistic” because they are taking advantage of the opportunity infect a pet with a weakened immune system.  And, unfortunately, Mother Nature has no law against people or pets suffering more than one illness at a time.

Learn more about reducing your dog’s risk of contracting Canine Influenza.

*Borrowed from “Canine Influenza: What do I need to know?” by Intervet Schering-Plough Animal Health. Pamphlet is available at our office.

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This article was posted on November 10, 2011 and November 14, 2012, and November 26, 2013.

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The heat and humidity are on everyone’s mind this summer. We’ve warned of the dangers of heat stroke in pets and most pet owners are keeping their dogs and cats indoors, where it’s safe. But suppose the A/C goes out? Or you just want to give your pet a little something extra to keep it cool? 

We’ve scoured the Internet to find products that are designed to help keep pets cool.* Click the links to learn more about each product and where they can be purchased.

Dog Cooling Paddog-cooling-pad

Dog Cooling Jacketdog-cooling-jacket

Crate Fan
Crate fanCooling Scarf

dog-cooling-collar-scarf

Hydro Bone Freezable ToyHydroBone

Remember, pets are safest kept indoors in an air-conditioned environment during the hot summer months. Heat stroke can occur under the right circumstances, even to pets using the above products. Pug-nosed, elderly, overweight, and infirm pets are especially at risk.

*These products have not been used or tested by the doctor or staff at our clinic, and we therefore make no warranties or guarantees as to the safety or efficacy of any product. Be sure any product you purchase is specifically designed for your pet’s species, breed, size, and age.  

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Nation’s Largest Pet Insurer Offers Pet Friendly Guidance for Summer Trips

Brea, Calif. (May 18,  2015) – Each year millions of pets accompany their families on vacation, and with summer approaching, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance, reminds pet lovers that the key to a safe vacation for our furry family members is preparation. To spread awareness about the potential dangers pets face during a trip, VPI sorted through its database of more than 525,000 insured pets to determine the most common travel-related pet injuries. Below are the results:  

Injury/Illness Travel Related Incident Average Cost for Treatment
Vomiting or Diarrhea Motion Sickness $226
Heat Stroke Pet Left in Car $575
Bruising or Contusion Sudden Car Stop $226
Sprain Jumping out of Car $185
Nasal Cavity Foreign Object Inhaling Debris while Head Out of Window $406
Laceration Hit with Debris while Head Out of Window $329

  VPI encourages people to plan ahead with these travel tips to ensure that their furry friends are safe during summer excursions:

  1. If traveling by car, secure your pet with a safety harness or well ventilated carrier to restrain them in case of a sudden stop or accident. 
  2. Never allow your pet hang out the window. Opening the window just a few inches will allow your pet to safely enjoy the breeze without the risk of inhaling debris or being struck by any objects. This will also prevent any temptation your pet may have of jumping out of the car.
  3. Feed your pet a smaller meal before your trip to prevent an upset stomach. Also remember to carry plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
  4. Bring your pets’ toys to accompany them during travel. The familiar smells can help comfort your pet and keep them occupied during the trip.
  5. Never leave your pet in a car unattended. Even with the windows cracked, temperatures in a car can increase drastically.
  6. Make sure your pet is wearing identification at all times in case she becomes separated or lost. Verify that your pet’s ID tag is up-to-date, durable, and includes your mobile phone number.
  7. Pack a recent photo of your pet along with current vaccination records. If your pet becomes lost, having a current photograph will make the search easier.
  8. Book a pet-friendly hotel. With more than 25,000 hotels in the U.S. allowing pets, there are plenty of properties from which to choose. Don’t assume all pets will be allowed, though: Some hotels place limits on the size of the dogs they allow. Call to check that your dog will be welcomed.
  9. Look up details about a veterinary hospital near your destination (phone number, hours, driving distance).  If your pet has a medical emergency you’ll be prepared and know where to go.

“Traveling with our pets can be fun, but it’s important to take the correct steps to ensure they are safe and comfortable,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “I recommend scheduling a pre-trip appointment with your veterinarian to confirm that your pet is in good health, and that your pet’s vaccinations are current. If your itinerary includes air travel, ask your veterinarian for a formal pet health certificate, which is required by most commercial airlines. Always consider your pet’s personality and determine if she or he can handle traveling, or if a change in surroundings may be too far outside the comfort zone for your pet.”

About Veterinary Pet Insurance

With more than 525,000 pets insured nationwide, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency (VPI), a Nationwide company, is the first and largest pet health insurance provider in the United States. Since 1982, VPI has helped provide pet owners with peace of mind and is committed to being the trusted choice of America’s pet lovers.

VPI plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. Wellness coverage for routine care is available for an additional premium. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, one in three Fortune 500 companies offers VPI Pet Insurance as an employee benefit.

Insurance plans are offered and administered by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and DVM Insurance Agency in all other states. Underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (CA), Brea, CA, an A.M. Best A rated company (2013); National Casualty Company (all other states), Madison, WI, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2014). Veterinary Pet Insurance, VPI and the cat/dog logo are service marks of Veterinary Pet Insurance Company. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and Nationwide Is On Your Side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. ©2015 Veterinary Pet Insurance Company and Nationwide. Pet owners can find VPI Pet Insurance on Facebook or follow @VPI on Twitter. For more information about VPI Pet Insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit petinsurance.com.

 

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All photos by Jennifer Miele.

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The Case for Vaccines

Whether you’re leaving your pet at a kennel or taking it with you for the holidays, ensure that your pet is up-to-date on its vaccines.  This isn’t just a good idea:  it’s also the rule in many places.

As noted in a previous installment, vaccines themselves do not fight disease.  Rather, they prepare the body to respond to an actual viral or bacterial onslaught.  The effectiveness of a vaccination protocol depends on the health of the pet’s immune system and its ability to respond to vaccines as designed.

Not all pets will develop the desired high level of immunity to disease.  (Titer tests are available to gauge how well a pet is protected against a limited number of diseases at any particular point in time.)  Vaccination is proven beneficial to communities as a whole, as well as to individual pets.  Where disease is adequately controlled, pets with weaker immune systems benefit because they are less likely to be exposed and therefore are less likely to have to combat disease.

Boarding kennels are small communities in which disease can spread like wildfire if vaccination rules are not enforced.  Canine flu first reared its head some years ago by running rampant through kennels and dog pounds.  Once researchers became aware of the disease, they were able to develop a vaccine to slow its spread.  You may think the boarding kennel’s long list of required vaccines is a bit draconian, but it is based on real-world experience with epidemics and the desire not to repeat them. 

Even if your pet is typically healthy, someone else’s pet may not be.  If your pet is a non-symptomatic carrier of an illness, another pet could develop a full-blown illness.  At this stage, the virus or bacteria will multiply rapidly and gain strength while taking advantage of the pet with low immunity.  The now-stronger organism can spread to the other pets housed nearby.  Faced with such a challenge from a fellow boarder, even a healthy dog or cat will likely develop some degree of illness while its body responds to the invading organism. 

Knowing this, it is everyone’s responsibility to adhere to the vaccine regulations for their pet’s health and for the health of the community.  Rabies-free countries (like England) and states (like Hawaii) are especially driven to prevent the introduction of disease.

Which vaccines are most often recommended?

For dogs:

*DAPPv (also called DHPP) – combines Distemper, Adenovirus, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza

*Rabies

*Bordetella – also known as Canine Cough or Kennel Cough

*Canine Flu – also known as H3N8.  It is caused by a different virus than Parainfluenza.

For cats:

*FVRCCP – combines Panleukopenia (Feline Distemper), Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Chlamydia

*Rabies

*Leukemia

Why does my pet need vaccines for a road trip?

Travel can bring stress and stress can lower immune response.  Coupled with outdated vaccines, that can make a pet more susceptible to illness.  Consider that you will likely walk your pet at some point during the trip.  Can you guarantee it won’t come across other animals or animal droppings? 

Why does my pet need vaccines for airplane travel?

Most airlines and destinations require only Rabies vaccine for travel.  Not all pet owners choose to inoculate their pets against airborne diseases such as Flu or Bordetella.  Your pet may be sharing space with unprotected animals, which leaves your pet exposed.  Again, combining travel-induced stress with a lowered immune response and outdated vaccines, your pet could end up with a severe illness.  Don’t take that chance.

As a final note… 

Immune systems need time to respond to vaccines and prepare the body to fend off illness.  For this reason, we advise vaccinating your pet at least one month in advance of traveling or kenneling.

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This is the final installment of the travel series.  Is there anything not yet discussed that you would like to know?  Leave a comment or send a private e-mail to dr_miele@yahoo.com

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So you’re going to visit Charlie, Linus, and the gang for the same old Thanksgiving dinner of buttered toast, jellybeans, and popcorn.  You do it every year.  And every year it’s dull as dishwater.  You decide to find a way to make this trip more exciting. Then it hits you:  what could be more exciting than driving 668 miles with a screaming cat in the car?

That’s right – this installment is all about Taking Your Pet With You (subtitle:  Great Idea or Medieval Form of Torture for You Both?)

Travel by Auto

Research rest stops and pet-friendly hotels along your route, if the drive is a long one. 

Stop every two hours to stretch, eat, and use the bathroom; it’s good for you and your pet.  This gets tricky if you’re traveling alone, because pets should not be left in cars in extreme temperatures.  So do you bring your pet with you into the restroom and use the handicapped stall for its roominess?  No one has ever told me what s/he does in this case.  If you have personal experience, please mention it in the Comments section.

Bring a sturdy harness and leash (this goes for cats, too) so you can exercise your pet at rest stops.

Identify your pet through ID tags and a microchip.  Add a cell phone number to the info, so you can be reached on the road if the worst should happen and your pet escapes.

Pack pet dishes, food and water, medications, and a favorite toy or blanket.

Remember to bring a litterbox for the cat and plastic bags to dispose of pet waste.

Also pack a crate if your crate-trained dog can’t sleep without one.

Transport your cat in a roomy hard-sided cat carrier.  Your cat should not be allowed to roam the car while you drive.  (For reference, see “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” by Flannery O’Connor.)

Invest in a canine seat belt/harness combo to protect your dog during the ride.

Use caution when tranquilizing a pet.  Some pets (especially cats) become more fractious when under the influence of tranquilizers.

Look into organic non-drug supplements to calm pets; many pet stores sell homeopathic remedies for anxiety and upset.

Make a copy of your pet’s vaccination records and any pertinent medical history and bring it along.

Crossing the border?  Canada and Mexico may require a health certificate and proof of Rabies vaccination, at the least.  Gather all necessary documents before you hit the road.

Information on bringing pets to Canada and Mexico can be found here.

Travel by Plane – Domestic Flight

You will need to bring:

Interstate Health Certificate*;

Proof of Rabies vaccination;

Crate or hard-sided carrier meeting airline size requirements, labeled with your contact information and a description of your pet;

Any needed medications in the original labeled vials;

ID tags;

Small supply of pet food for a long flight;

Any other item the airline requires.

*Hawaii also requires microchip ID, 2 Rabies vaccines and Rabies titer testing.  Pets that do not meet the qualifications are quarantined for 120 days.

(See http://hawaii.gov/hdoa/ai/aqs/aqs-checklist-5.pdf)

Don’t bother with:

Tranquilizers – airlines today deny boarding to tranquilized pets due to the increased risk of death or injury.

Find out:

Whether your pet will fly in a climate-controlled bay;

Whether your pet will be left unattended at any time during a multi-leg flight.

For more on US state requirements for importing pets, click here.

Travel by Plane – International Flight

Contact the embassy or official website of your destination country to learn its import and quarantine regulations and to download travel forms.

Most items listed under Domestic Flight apply, with a few additions:

International Health Certificate, rather than Interstate Certificate;

Foreign-language Health Certificate, specific to the country to which your pet is traveling;

Microchip ID (bring a scanner if your pet’s chip cannot be universally scanned).

Some countries have highly specific and somewhat complicated terms for avoiding quarantine, including specific timing of Rabies vaccination and Rabies titer testing.

Some countries may also require proof of flea, tick, and tapeworm treatment prior to arrival.

Careful research and adequate preparation time will prevent your pet being quarantined or even denied entry at the border.

For more on bringing pets to foreign countries, click here.

Next:  Holiday Travel Series Part IV:  Vaccinations

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In Part 1 of the Holiday Travel Series, we explored the option of hiring a pet-sitter to provide in-home pet care, so that your dog or cat can remain in its preferred environment while you’re away.  Another option is to place your pet at a boarding kennel.  Many kennels offer a cozy home-away-from-home experience for their charges.

 A kennel might be right for your pet if

1)  your pet suffers separation anxiety (SA):  A pet with untreated SA can destroy a room or a whole house when left alone.

2)  your pet needs constant entertainment:  Even if your pet does not have SA, it still may prefer the stimulation of an active environment.

3)  your pet requires nursing care:  A veterinary hospital which offers on-site boarding is your best option.

4)  you are uncomfortable allowing unsupervised access to your home.

How do I pick the right kennel?

Recommendations  Ask your veterinarian, friends, family, and neighbors which kennels they recommend.  Then consider…

Location  Is it important to you that the kennel be nearest your house?  Nearest the airport?  Sometimes the kennel that impresses you most is out in the country.  Since your pet’s first boarding experience will require you to make at least three trips (inspection, drop-off, pick-up), determine whether you are happy to make the drive.  If the location is especially remote, you may not be able to retrieve your pet until the day after your return, which will generate an extra day’s boarding fee.

Services  How often are the pets exercised?  Are dogs allowed outside?  Are pets kept separate from each other or will they have contact with other boarders?  Are pets groomed before going home?  Does a staff member stay overnight?  Is emergency veterinary care available?  Bonus – one local kennel offers a pet pick-up and delivery service while another sports a webcam so that pet owners can check in on their “babies” while out of town.

Policies  Visit the kennel’s website to research their requirements.  Some facilities want to meet your pet and evaluate its temperament first.  All kennels require up-to-date vaccinations.  Find out how much food to bring and whether to pack bedding, toys and food bowls.

Call early  Kennels have a finite number of cages and runs and they cannot just “double up” (i.e. put random pets together in cages.)  For this reason, you should start your search 1-2 months ahead of your trip.  “Reputable boarding facilities usually book for holidays typically 4 weeks in advance,” reports Jessica Molina, Manager at Bayside Kennels (www.baysidekennels.com).   In fact, Bayside has already filled its available indoor/outdoor runs as of November 1st.  Remember, many people leave town during the holidays and they’re competing against you for kennel reservations.  Don’t wait until the last minute to call.

Tour  Kennels offer tours for prospective clients.  See where your pet will be staying while you’re gone.  You won’t stay in a shady motel if you can help it, right?  Right.  So check out Fido’s “motel” before you hit the road.

How do I make the kennel’s job easier?

Familiarize yourself with the kennel’s policies, rates, and hours of operation (especially drop-off and pick-up hours) in order to head off misunderstandings and miscommunication.

Update your pet’s vaccinations as required by the kennel and furnish the records.

Provide food and medication in the amount and packaging required by the kennel.  Make sure all items are clearly labeled with your name and the pet’s name.  Consider adding your pet’s breed or some other identifier to the items, just in case another Mrs. Tom Jones is also boarding a cat named “Claws von Bulow.”

Also provide collar or harness, leash, and ID tags.

Leave as many contact numbers as you can muster (in case of emergencies) and take the kennel’s info with you (in case of travel delays.)

Notify your veterinarian that your pet will be staying at the kennel and ask whether a pre-boarding examination and fecal test are recommended.

Respect the kennel’s space limitations and rates.  It is unlikely that you’ll get a discount by requesting that your multiple pets share a cage.

Call the kennel if you must cancel or postpone your reservation, so they can give the spot to someone else’s pet.

Cancel the reservation if your pet develops a contagious illness, including skin disease such as mange or ringworm.

I followed all the rules and my pet still got sick after boarding.  What’s the deal???

Cough:  Dogs can develop a cough after boarding, even if vaccinated for Parainfluenza & Adenovirus (part of the Distemper combo vaccine), Bordetella (aka Kennel Cough) and Canine Flu. 

It is important to understand that the vaccine’s purpose is to prepare the body to fight disease; the vaccine itself does not fight the invading organism.  A pet must have a healthy immune system to respond to the vaccine as designed and then fend off viruses and bacteria.  Unfortunately, not all dogs will develop a high level of immunity in response to a vaccine. 

Also, vaccines are not available for every infectious microorganism in existence.  Your pet could be exposed to a strain of disease for which there is no protection.  So why vaccinate?  Vaccinations are proven to reduce the spread of disease and to lessen the severity of symptoms in pets exposed to infectious agents.

Diarrhea:  Animals can develop stress-induced diarrhea due to a change in their environment or diet.  Ask your veterinarian whether probiotics are indicated for your pet.

Have your pet examined by its regular veterinarian if you suspect an illness is in the works.  A respiratory illness is not likely to go away on its own; in fact, it will likely worsen and cause your pet much physical and emotional stress.  (More on vaccines and illness in Part 4.)

That last answer worries me.  Does that mean I should never board my pet?

No.  If your pet is immune-compromised, look into a pet-sitter service.  Otherwise, keep in mind that hundreds of pets are kenneled all over Hampton Roads every day, and few of them end up sick due to kenneling. 

Special thanks to Jessica Molina of Bayside Kennels for kenneling advice and information.  Learn more about Bayside Kennels here.

Next:  Holiday Travel Series Part III – Taking Your Pet With You

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Traveling for the holidays?  Now is the time to plan for your pet’s care while you’re away.  Pet owners who travel have three options:  hire a pet sitter, take the pet to a boarding kennel, or bring the pet along for the trip.

In Part I of this series, we will explore hiring a pet sitter and whether that choice is right for you and your pet.

A pet sitter can be a professional or a friend/neighbor/relative.  Types of pet-sitters include those who visit your house periodically to care for your pet; those who stay in your house; and those who take care of your pet at the sitter’s own home. 

A pet-sitter might be right for you if

1)  You feel your pet is not physically or emotionally suited for kenneling:

Some pets may be too susceptible to disease to risk kenneling.  Others may become severely withdrawn and refuse food during kenneling.  For these reasons, an owner may seek at-home pet care. 

Alternatively, your pet may be happy and healthy, but you as the owner prefer to keep him at home – that’s perfectly acceptable!

2)  You are comfortable allowing a person unsupervised access to your home:

Plenty of people do this on a regular basis with a maid service, home improvement company, or daily dog walking service and it works out well.  Ask prospective pet sitters whether they are licensed, bonded, and insured.  Professionals will have the necessary credentials and protection, but most importantly, they will respect your pets, home, and belongings.

How do I hire a professional pet sitter?

Start your search for a pet sitter well in advance of your trip.  Gather names and recommendations from your veterinarian, friends, and neighbors.  Steve Douglas, owner of Atta-Boy Pet Sitting Service, reports that he is already booked for Thanksgiving this year.  Steve recommends booking a professional sitter 1-2 months in advance of holiday travel.

Visit the pet sitter’s website to find out about rates and services.  Pet sitters may provide extra services such as collecting mail and newspapers, turning lamps on or off, and watering plants.

Schedule a consultation at your home so the pet sitter can meet you and your pets.  Services and rates can be discussed at the consultation.

Ask potential sitters how much time they spend with clients’ pets, on average.  Steve from Atta-Boy arranges a minimum of 30 minutes with pets, although some lucky dogs get a longer playtime when scheduling allows. 

Find out the types of pets a sitter will care for.  Dogs and cats top the list, but what about reptiles, birds, rodents and other exotic pets? 

How do I make the pet sitter’s job easier?

Stick to the key transfer arrangements.

Inform the sitter if you change a previously supplied alarm shut-off code.

Leave as many contact numbers as possible and take your sitter’s contact info with you.

Update the sitter if you will be arriving home earlier or later than agreed upon.  Failure to inform a sitter of early arrival can result in travel charges as well as an embarrassing encounter at home.  Late arrivals – by a day or more – can result in a hungry pet and a mess in the house.

Provide an adequate supply of food and medications to last your absence plus an extra week, in case of unexpected delays.  Bonus – if you arrive home on schedule, you won’t need to rush out for supplies.

Also provide a collar or harness, leash, and ID tags for your dogs; leave a cat carrier where it can be accessed in an emergency.  Instruct the sitter on the location of pet medicine and vet records.

Don’t forget your snake.  Maybe your snake won’t need to be fed again until you return, so you figure “No need to mention it, right?”  Wrong.  It’s a huge deal if the sitter has a phobia and comes face-to-face with her worst nightmare.  Never spring an animal – especially an exotic – on a pet sitter.  And don’t forget the silent ones:  your fish.  They need to be fed, too!

Notify your veterinarian of the duration of your trip along with the pet sitter’s name and contact info.  Find out if your vet requires a pre-signed Permission & Request To Treat form in case of medical problems in your absence.  Check the sitter’s and vet’s policies on how payment for medical care will be handled; in most cases, you are solely responsible for all costs of care.

What if a close friend or relative offers to do the pet-sitting? 

How well does your friend or relative know your pet?  Your dog or cat may be more comfortable with someone familiar.  An animal which aggressively protects its turf in the owner’s absence may not let an unfamiliar person inside.  This revelation can be a serious problem if the owner has left town and there is no one else available to feed the pet. 

If you do elect to allow a friend or relative care for your pet, consider the following questions:

*Is the sitter comfortable with your pet? 

*If you have a dog, is the sitter able to handle the dog on walks around the neighborhood?

*Can the sitter administer any necessary medications?

*Can the sitter transport your pet to a veterinarian for emergency medical care, if needed?

*Is the sitter known to be a mature, responsible person?  Your pet’s welfare and your home’s security are at stake.

(To see more benefits of hiring a professional pet sitter, click here and view the 25 Point Checklist on Atta-Boy’s homepage.)

What if the worst happens?

If your pet runs away, has a serious accident or dies while in the care of your friend or relative (whether due to negligence or unforeseen circumstances), will your relationship survive the incident?  If you are quite certain that the relationship would end or become permanently damaged, consider hiring someone else for the job.

In fact, if your pet is aged or sickly and there is a chance it could pass away while you are gone – assuming you have rejected the idea of boarding your pet at a veterinary hospital – it would be best to be frank with any sitter you hire, professional or otherwise.  Make sure the sitter understands you will not hold him or her responsible for death due to natural causes – and mean it.

Special thanks to Steve Douglas of Atta-Boy Pet Sitting Service for his insight and advice.  Visit http://www.attaboypet.com to learn more.

Next:  Holiday Travel Series Part II – Boarding Kennels

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     I am currently composing a Travel Series featuring information on pet sitters, boarding kennels, traveling with pets, and recommended vaccinations.  Subscribers to this blog will receive an e-mail when each installment is posted.  If you haven’t subscribed already, be sure to do it now!

     Is there a travel-related issue you’d like to see addressed?  Write a note in the comments section or e-mail me at dr_miele@yahoo.com.  ~~  Jen

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