Planning will make travel easier for all

Published 3:18 pm Monday, September 12, 2011

By DR. FRED SELF / Veterinarian

Thinking about taking a last-minute summer vacation or starting to plan a winter trip? Maybe you are about to make a big move. There are important things to consider if you plan to take your pets along.

First, how will you travel — by road or by air? Second, do you have all the requirements for your pets to make the trip? Depending on how you plan to make the trip and where you will end up, the requirements are different.

If you plan to make a trip by car, the rules are pretty simple. Get a health certificate for your pet. The degree to which this is important varies. If you are driving to Atlanta for Thanksgiving with the family, Spot is legally required to be accompanied by a health certificate. Interstate transport of animals, regardless of type, requires a previous health check.

However, is it common for owners to be stopped and their dog’s papers checked? No. So what then is the right thing to do? If you plan to travel by car with your pet, it is always the right thing to have a current health certificate.

If your plans include traveling by plane within the continental United States, contact the airline or airlines you intend to use and ask for their requirements for pets. It is likely that they will require a health certificate. It is possible that they will also require some other permission form if the pet is to travel alone or as cargo. The requirements for pets to travel as cargo are pretty well set but can be altered on an individual basis. Altering these requirements can be bad. Doing so can make it easier on the airline but harder on the pet, especially during colder and hotter times of the year. Always adhere to published flight requirements.

If you travel to or move to another country with your pets, start your planning a year in advance, if possible. Certain countries and Hawaii have tough import requirements. They often require the application of topical flea and tick medications. Some force testing for heartworms and other internal parasites as well as requiring the pet be on a preventative medication. On occasion even an isolation period is required. All of these requirements are timed and have to be performed within a certain period prior to travel.

For health certificates and information regarding international travel, contact your veterinarian long before your pet’s expected travel date.

Dr. Fred Self is a veterinarian at Shelbiana Animal Clinic in Columbiana, along with Dr. Charles Thornburg. You can reach them at 669-7717.