Magazine article USA TODAY

Keeping Family Pets Safe for the Holidays

Magazine article USA TODAY

Keeping Family Pets Safe for the Holidays

Article excerpt

There is more to making sure feline and canine friends are happy this holiday season than just wrapping up a bone or catnip to place with the other presents. "Whether you are leaving your pet at home or traveling with them during the holidays, planning is necessary to ensure they are safe," asserts Steve Thompson, director of the Wellness Clinic at the School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.

Animals that travel by airplane are required to receive a health certificate from a veterinarian within 10 days of the flight. It confirms that the pet has current vaccinations and is free of infectious diseases. Moreover, one is required if entering Mexico or Canada by car. Those driving with their animals to a holiday destination also should consider contacting their veterinarian in advance, as pets enduring long car trips can be given a mild sedative. However, Thompson stresses that the drug and its dosage should be tested on the animal ahead of time.

Packing a summary of a pet's veterinary records and a copy of its immunization schedule for any trip is wise as well. If a pet is turned away from a hotel or needs to be placed in a kennel during an emergency, the information already is accessible.

Animals should receive standard inoculations at least two weeks before they are boarded to ensure they have developed antibodies. A nose drop vaccine for canine cough--known as kennel cough--provides faster protection, but still should be administered at least three days prior to boarding, not just on the evening they arrive at the kennel.

Pet owners who travel and leave their pets at home have the option of boarding the animals or finding someone to watch over them. Veterinary records should be accessible for pet sitters in case of an emergency. "Cats are often fine when left home," Thompson assures. …

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