Taking a trip with your pet? Consider a pit-stop to the vet first
Should you travel with your pet? It’s a tough question to answer, even for vets. There are few good kennels in India where you can leave a pet behind in comfort and safety. It’s hard to find a pet-sitter you can trust.
Many people travel with their animals because they say they don’t know what else to do. But animals aren’t naturally suited to life on the move.
Aside from motion sickness, travel is generally associated with visits to the vet. “Cats especially often relate driving with the experience of being handled by strangers and given injections. Cars can mean, to an animal, that something unpleasant is coming,” says Dr Manilal Valliyate, CEO of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), India.
Animals that are introduced to car rides when young can get comfortable and enjoy travel, he adds.
They may still suffer from motion sickness, so frequent breaks and lots of water are key. A lot of animals also get over-stimulated or frightened by unfamiliar environments and disrupted routines. Brachycephalic breeds such as pugs, bulldogs and Lhasa Apsos can develop acute respiratory distress syndrome when anxious, says Nicole Rego, veterinary physician and surgeon from Mumbai. “These breeds should avoid travel unless cleared for it by their vet.”
Sudden variations in climate or altitude can cause health issues for an animal. “Changes in temperature and humidity cause stress, lower their immunity, make animals susceptible to bacterial, viral and protozoal infections,” says Valliyate.
The main question you should ask is, what is the comfort level of my pet, says vet and bird specialist Dr Rina Dev. “Birds, for instance, are extremely sensitive to noise. Don’t take them into loud traffic and blaring horns,” she says.
On the other hand, if your test trip goes well and your pet seems to be both healthy and relaxed, then you could have a road-tripper on your hands.
“Animals can travel,” says Rego, “if the right steps and precautions are taken.”