In the wake of recent tragedies in which animals died in transit, Dr. Jessica Merk of the Ashworth Road Animal Hospital in West Des Moines appeared on WOI-HD today to discuss safe travel tips for pets.
A high-profile incident involved the death of Simon, a giant rabbit en route from England to Iowa. Simon was set to be certified as the world’s largest rabbit when he died under at-yet-undetermined circumstances in the care of United Airlines personnel.
Whether in the family car or on an airliner, there are “a lot of considerations to take into account,” Merk said.
“You need to make sure your pet is comfortable with travel. Some pets just can’t handle travel because of their age or temperament or because they might be sick or injured. If they are traveling, make sure they have ID tags with up-to-date information,” she said. “You should make sure they are implanted with a microchip, too. Of course, you need to make sure it is registered with your current contact information, especially your cell phone number. And, if you’re taking your pet across state or international borders, you just might be required to have a health certificate and other documentation.”
Merk had other advice, too.
“You can help comfort your pet by familiarizing them with your carrier beforehand. Letting them explore the carrier days before. Even placing their favorite toy or blanket in the carrier,” she continued “Check your flight options before booking and book a non-peak time. Less people and less commotion can help reduce the stress. Also check for extreme weather conditions. It’s important to withhold from feeding your pet four to six hours prior to departure in case your pet does get nervous to reduce the odds they get sick and have a serious health issue. You can also trim your pet’s nails before your trip so they don’t get caught on the carrier or in its crevices.”