Give pets a happy howlidayPublished 12:03pm Friday, December 21, 2012
Figuring out how to fit pets in with the merry-making during the holidays can cause problems, but there are several options to ensure happy holidays – for pets as well as their owners.
“People should take (pet safety and accomodations) responsibly,” said Susan Martin, veterinarian at Wayside Animal Hospital. “They need to make sure the pet has somebody that’s going to feed them and look after them.”
For people who are traveling for the holidays, this means planning ahead for pet accommodations – which can involve boarding the pet or preparing for its travel arrangements.
“Dogs – I don’t know if I would leave them home alone,” Martin said. “It’s just like leaving a little kid at home: it may not be quite that bad, but you wouldn’t do it.”
Martin said cats are typically trustworthy when left home by themselves, especially if they have done it before, while dogs are more apt to cause problems or hurt themselves.
Angela Gavin Smith, veterinarian at Alexander City Veterinary Clinic, said one of the most important things to consider when taking a pet along on a lengthy car ride is whether the pet has traveled well in the past.
“Some pets will get carsick, so it’s not necessarily a good time to find that out,” Smith said.
Necessary travel arrangements differ for different pets, Smith said, especially when it comes to whether or not they need to be crated during the trip.
“You have to know your pet,” Smith said. “Cats should always be crated. Larger dogs sometimes are fine (left loose) – they don’t need to be up front with the driver, though. Small dogs are better crated.”
The number one priority is safety for the pet as well as the owner, which is why boarding may be a better option for some pets.
“If they tend to get overexcited, you don’t want to let it mess up your vacation by taking them with you,” Martin said. “Some travel well, and some stay at the clinic well … every (pet) is a little bit different.”
But Smith said boarding accommodations shouldn’t be put off until the last minute.
“Most vet clinics and boarding facilities fill up really quick during the holidays,” Smith said. “If it’s not a facility that your pet has been to before, they’re going to require proof of vaccinations.”
Wayside Animal Hospital and Alexander City Veterinary Clinic both offer boarding services, as do Southern Star Farm in Alexander City and Dadeville Animal Clinic and Howlin’ Pet Resort in Dadeville.
“You know that they’re going to be kept in a safe environment,” Smith said. “They’re not going to affect your Christmas plans at all.”
For those who choose to travel with their pets, another consideration is medicating. Smith and Martin both recommended consulting the pet’s veterinarian before using any kind of sedative or carsickness medication.