It's summer time, and that means that a lot people are traveling. If you're a pet owner, that also means that you must decide what to do with Fido or Fifi when you go. Many owners simply board their pets at a vet clinic or boarding facility, and some owners pay for someone to watch their pets in their home. There are, however, still owners who opt to take their pets on vacation with them.
If traveling by car, there are a few measures you can take to assure a safe and enjoyable drive. The safest place for your pet to travel is in its crate. Sitting on your lap is probably the most unsafe place for your pet to travel...for both you and your pet. If your pet is not used to long distance traveling, do a few quick test runs before your actual trip, gradually increasing the length of the car ride. If your pet is not used to being crated, leave the crate out well before your trip, with the door open so your pet can go in and out freely. Alternatively, there are specially designed seat belts and other equipment to keep your pet safe and secure in the car. If you know your pet gets car sick or overly anxious on trips, your veterinarian will be able to prescribe medications for your pet to relax their tummies and minds. Also, withhold food from your pet several hours before traveling to help prevent any upset tummies (don't withhold food from young puppies and kittens or other pets that cannot physically tolerate fasting).
If traveling by plane, make sure your airline of choice will also transport your pet. Each airline will have specific requirements for flying your pet, including specific climate conditions, crate types, and even the size of your pet. If it is too hot or too cold, most airlines will not fly your pets. Check with your specific airline for their requirements.
If traveling out of state or out of country, your pet may need a health certificate, certain vaccinations, or even to be quarantined on arrival. Check the laws of your destination (or ask your veterinarian to help you find this information) to make sure you have the appropriate health papers and records for your pet.
Check hotels and other lodging prior to your vacation to make sure they are pet-friendly and that you know the details of their pet policies.
The most important thing to remember about traveling with your pet is to plan ahead.
June is Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat-Month, so here are some random kitty tidbits:
Cats meow at people, but they often don't meow to each other.
Tortoiseshell cats are almost always female because the genes that determine whether a cat will have black or orange (red) fur are found on the X chromosome. A cat cannot have both colors without having two X chromosomes. Calico cats are just tortoiseshell in which the colors form patches with white.
A male cat is a tom (or gib if neutered). A female cat is a queen.
Despite being domesticated, cats have undergone few major changes from their wild counterparts. They are arguably the least domesticated domestic animal.
Tylenol (acetaminophen), among other things, is toxic to cats.
White cats with blue eyes are commonly deaf (kittens are born with blue eyes, but this can change as they get older).
Cats are not small dogs. Medications and foods appropriate for dogs are not necessarily appropriate for cats. Cats should only eat cat food. Dog food lacks taurine and has a lower protein content than a cat requires.
In Ancient Egypt, cats were regarded as sacred.
Cats are prolific breeders, with a female cat able to produce two to three litters a year. This makes it very important to have your pets spayed and neutered. Animal shelters are overrun with kittens, and many will not find a home.
Go out and adopt a shelter kitten (or even an adult cat).
It's June, and that means it's National Pest Control Month. So, from a veterinary perspective, what pests do we want to control? How about fleas, ticks, biting flies, and pterodactyls...I mean mosquitoes. Not only are many of these bugs a menace to your pets, but they can cause serious diseases in your pets (and you!).
Fleas are, by far, the most common external parasite of pets, making flea allergy dermatitis the most common skin disease of cats and dogs. The most common species of flea found on our pets is Ctenocephalides felis. The most successful way to control fleas is to disrupt their life cycle. That means that owners must treat both their pets and the environment (house, yard, etc). Adult fleas live on your pet, where they eat and reproduce. The fleas seen on our pets make up only about 5% of the total flea population...the other 95% is found in the environment. Flea eggs, in general, fall off the host shortly after they are laid. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae develop, feeding on digested blood (poop) that has fallen from the host from the adult fleas. The larvae grow, finally making cocoons (pupae). The pupae can remain dormant for months, and emerge when suitable conditions are present. Vibrations, warming, and increased carbon dioxide can all signal to the pupae that a suitable host is present for them to inhabit. This entire life cycle can take as few as 16 days. The best control methods are treating pets to prevent them from bringing fleas into their environment and to treat the environment. Many products are available and include monthly topicals, pills, and sprays.
In addition to the itching fleas can cause pets (and even you), fleas can also lead to anemia in animals (especially in young puppies and kittens), tapeworms (from ingesting fleas), and diseases like plague (that last one is pretty rare around here, but it is a disease that can also occur in people).
Ticks are another pesky little parasite, but, unlike the other pests on this post, they are not insects. Ticks can act as vectors to transmit many diseases that people and animals can both acquire. A couple of examples are Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. They can also cause a syndrome known as tick paralysis, in which the nervous system is affected by the presence of a tick. Ticks can be controlled by various products, including monthly topicals, sprays, and PrevenTic collars, among others.
Biting flies tend to like chewing on dogs' ears and open wounds. They can be controlled with creams that can be applied to the pets' ears, some monthly topicals, and sprays.
And, finally, we reach the mosquito. Aside from being a nuisance by biting and making us itch, mosquitoes can cause a wide variety of conditions. Around here, in the Mississippi Delta, the biggest condition they lead to is heartworm disease. Recommendations for controlling these giant six-legged monsters include leaving no standing water for the mosquitoes to lay their eggs. Many cities have trucks (or small planes) that release chemicals meant to kill the mosquitoes. Some monthly topicals and sprays are labelled to repel mosquitoes, but, at least around here, there doesn't seem to be much that makes a dent in their population. It is critically important that pets remain on heartworm preventatives year-round.