Have a pet? Prepare now for a worry-free vacation

Vacation planning for your pets

While walking down to the supermarket one Sunday, I noticed a passenger plane flying overhead and immediately started imagining all the exciting places that those passengers were heading off to. This daydreaming led to an overwhelming feeling of freedom combined with the desire to “escape” which in an instant transported my mind to all corners of the globe. I began thinking how much a little unplanned escape would allow me to relax and leave my everyday cares behind. I imagined a whole week of not to have to fix things, solve problems, answer phone calls, respond to emails, meet deadlines, or having to set any alarms.

Recognizing that my absence from work on such short notice could create a small problem, I started coming up with excuses and rebuttals: Isn’t it my right to take a vacation? Doesn’t everyone take a vacation? Why do I even bother working if I can’t take a vacation once in a while? Fired up with these feelings of entitlement, I immediately sent an email requesting the time off. The reply back was short and to the point: “Okay, Eddie.”

Yippee! Now that I had the time off, I quickly logged on to my bank site and checked my savings that had been building up just for a time like this. Why was I stressing about this? It would be easy! I then picked up the telephone and called my girlfriend Abby, and with excitement that I could barely contain I started singing the lyrics to one of my favorite John Lennon songs from the 80s: “Why don’t we take off alone? Take a trip somewhere far, far away. We’ll be together all alone again like we used to in the early days. Well, well, well, darlin’?”

“I will tell you why it may not be such a great idea” the voice on the other end of the phone said in an aggrieved tone. “With this short notice what do you suggest we do with Daisy, Duke, Midnight, Harley, Livey, the other Daisy, Leo, and Fluff?” Between two of us, we have a small menagerie of pets! After much back and forth we finally decided to have a family member sit with the cats and to take the dogs to a local “pet resort.” One of our cats, however, has to be dosed daily with methimazole which our house guest was not comfortable doing. So, we also had to have a certified pet babysitting service come by once each morning to help administer the medication and lend a hand with the litter cleanup.

During our preparation, I compiled a few tips that we found useful and that may help reduce the last minute stress for pet owners who like to take out of town vacations:

  • Research the pet boarding choices in your area, in advance. There are large differences in costs and comfort between various places — some seem like prisons while others are more like a vacation resort for pets. If you prepare now, you’ll have time to visit the facility in person, and even bring your pet to become familiar with the place. Before settling on a facility or pet sitter, be sure to ask for referrals.
  • Have all pet vaccinations current. You must plan for this as it takes several days after vaccination before your pet is fully protected, and most places will not board a pet without up to date vaccinations. Make sure you have a copy of the vaccination record to prove that all the vaccinations are current.
  • Prepare an instruction sheet for your pet’s caretaker that includes your itinerary and contact information as well as the name and phone number of your veterinarian.
  • Make sure your pet has current identification tags and/or microchip information. Take a clear photo of your pets before going on vacation which you can use in the unlikely event your pets become lost or missing.
  • If the facility allows for it, bring a favorite toy and comfy pet bed, blanket or even an old tee-shirt with your scent on it for your pet. Also, providing a supply of your pet’s regular food can help prevent digestive upsets while you’re gone.
  • Make sure that all pet medications and instructions are left with the person responsible for your pet; make certain that this person knows the dosing schedule and is comfortable with administering the medication. Some medications such as enalapril, digoxin, furosemide, among other used for cardiac and blood pressure control, can be dangerous if skipped. Many other medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and other pain meds also may create a danger or severe discomfort if not given for the duration of the trip. The bottom line is that prescription medication should be taken as prescribed and doses should not be skipped.

As always, if you have any concerns about your pets, making an appointment to discuss these with the veterinarian is the best way to get a proper diagnosis and the required treatment. If you have any medication related questions, your 1800Petmeds pharmacist is also available to answer those for you.

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