VCA Animal Hospitals

Are you bringing your dog on vacation?

Published: Aug 09, 2012

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For many people, pets are part of the family. So when it's time to plan a vacation, they go out of their way to find a place where their animals can go as well.

In fact, a recent survey of travelers conducted by revealed nearly half (47 percent) of all leisure travelers own a dog, and about 40 percent of these dog owners have taken their furry friends on vacation in the past two years.

While taking your pet on vacation can be fun for you and the animal, experts say research and planning are needed to ensure traveling with your dog is a fun and safe experience for everyone.

The first consideration is how you will get there. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, whether you'll be traveling by car or plane, you should take steps ahead of time to get your dog acclimated.

Those traveling by car should first figure out the logistics of transporting a dog in their vehicle. Experts say that restraining your pet is important for his safety and that of the driver and other passengers as well. Restraint options include crates, harnesses and special seatbelts.

Start by slowly conditioning your dog to wearing the restraint or spending time in his crate, using his favorite treats as rewards. Then, progress to taking short trips in the car.

If you're planning airplane travel with your dog, you should also get him used to being restrained. According to a recent article in the New York Times, dog training expert Cesar Milan recommends using lavender oil beforehand to help the pet relax on the plane. Help your dog learn to associate the smell with positive feelings by placing a drop of it on your hands at meal time and letting him pick up the scent. That way, when he's on the plane, "the positive association will allow him to calm down and remain relaxed," Milan explained to the newspaper.

There are other considerations for air travel with pets, including researching the airline's pet policies and fees as well as requirements for pets upon arrival at your destination.

Experts also recommend taking your dog for a long walk or run prior to the plane trip so the animal is more likely to fall asleep. However, medication that helps sedate the animal may be necessary.

Veterinarians often suggest trying a new medication at home or at the vet's office before using it when traveling, as the correct dose and duration of effects may vary greatly between individuals and some dogs actually become more agitated or anxious with these drugs. A trial run will help your vet determine the correct drug dose and ensure the medication has the desired effect.

Before you leave, make sure your animal is healthy and that his dog vaccinations are up to date. You'll need proof that the animal has been vaccinated to stay at places. And if your pet needs any medications, you'll need to make sure you have an adequate supply for your trip.

Other things to bring include food and water bowls, a leash, an adequate supply of food, bottled water and toys. Bringing a first aid kit for your pet may also be beneficial. Your vet will be able to tell you what you'll need, based on your pet's history.

Losing a dog while traveling can turn a vacation into a nightmare. Bring a picture of your pet with you just in case he or she wanders off. Keeping your dog leashed at all times is important as is keeping a collar with identification on him or her. It's a good idea to include your cell phone number so anyone who finds your pet can get in touch with you immediately. In addition, some pet owners opt to have their dogs implanted with a microchip to make identifying them easier in case they're lost.

It's also important to plan your lodging accordingly. Make sure ahead of time that your hotel or is dog-friendly and research doggie day care options for outings in which pets are not allowed.


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.