Traveling with a special needs pet requires special pet travel plans

Hitting the road with a special friend can be amazing, especially when that co-pilot has four legs. There are times, though, when it may not be as easy as packing up and leaving town. Traveling with a special needs pet requires some extra consideration, but The Pet Experts at Wheaton Animal Hospital are prepared to help you achieve travel success.

Recognizing the Risks

Understanding which pets might be considered special needs is half the battle. If you are not aware that your pet may be open to extra risks, you cannot do anything to help protect them. When planning a trip with your faithful friend, be sure to make an appointment to discuss your travel plans with us and allow us to perform an examination to be sure your pet is up to the task.

Pets who may be considered special needs include:

  • Very young animals, especially prior to the completion of a full vaccination series
  • Geriatric patients due to lowered immune systems and concurrent health issues
  • Immunosuppressed patients such as those undergoing cancer treatment, on immunosuppressive medications, or those suffering an illness
  • Those with mobility issues or other physical impairments
  • Animals undergoing treatment for a major health issue such as cancer, autoimmune disease, or organ dysfunction

These pets often are vulnerable to things that others may not be. They often require special planning in order to have a safe and fun trip.

After Careful Consideration

There’s no doubt that you are the best person to care for your pet. You know what they need and when, what is normal for them, and what is cause for alarm. Sometimes, though, the risks of traveling with a special needs pet outweigh the benefits.

Consider boarding your pet with a capable facility such as ours that can provide care in your absence or finding a pet sitter who is comfortable with your pets needs if:

  • Your pet will be very anxious or stressed by travel
  • You do not feel confident that you can protect your pet’s exposure risk (for instance if your pet must be quarantined or travel in the cargo area of an airplane, you may not be able to dictate care)
  • You will be unable to provide the treatments and care that your pet needs while on the trip
  • You will not be able to access appropriate veterinary care for your pet while on your trip, whether for planned care or unplanned emergencies

Tips for Traveling with a Special Needs Pet

If you do choose to bring your pet along with you, you have a little extra work to do. Traveling with any pet requires some extra planning and packing, but when that pet has special needs, there will likely be extra leg work involved.

Be sure to:

  • Obtain copies of your pet’s current medical records so that you can provide them if care is necessary while on the trip
  • Map out facilities along the way and at your destination that are capable of caring for your pet just in case
  • Fill enough of your pet’s medications to last the length of your trip (you may wish to bring along extra in case you are delayed at all)
  • Pack comfort items to help your pet rest more comfortably
  • Anticipate any nausea or anxiety your pet may need medication for during travel
  • Check your calendar to be sure that your pet is not slated for any vet visits or treatments during your absence
  • Have a plan to minimize potential disease exposure, especially at places like rest stops and airport pet areas
  • Avoid contact with unfamiliar animals and potential sources of contamination such as shared water bowls or toys
  • Check with us to be sure that your pet is up to date on all vaccinations and parasite preventatives that are safe to be administered in the face of other needs

With some planning traveling with a special needs pet can be done successfully Whether your pet is headed to Grandmother’s house for a holiday feast or across the country for a business meeting, we are happy to help you develop a plan for a fabulous trip!