There are a lot of challenges when travelling with a small dog, ranging from making the arrangements with airlines to finding pet-friendly hotel rooms (or pet-friendly friends to stay with). From worrying over a crated dog in the cargo area of a plane to having your darling become the bawling baby of a flight with incessant barking, to worrying over the wisdom of a sedative bringing your stalwart companion with you can be both rewarding and exhausting.
Still, with careful planning all of these obstacles can be overcome. Unfortunately, many people fail to take one final step that can make all the difference between a wonderful trip filled with memories (and fantastic pictures of your doggie discovering a New World) and a tragedy: Making sure you know where the emergency veterinarian services are in your destination.
Planning for the Unexpected
Even if your pet is healthy and in the prime of life, you simply never know what is going to happen, and travel can be very stressful on a small dog. Assuming that everything will be fine is not actually a plan of action, and don't forget that you're not at home where you know exactly where every vet is within a ten-mile radius. Throw in the possibility of a foreign language and culture and a medical emergency for your dog can quickly become a serious situation. The key is to plan ahead, and know what resources are available.
If travelling in the United States, you can get a listing of emergency vet services from a variety of resources: dogfriendly.com maintains a listing or you can use the search function at myveterinarian.com, maintained by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Find a 24-hour emergency vet that's in close proximity to your hotel, and keep a backup list of other 24-hour emergency vets in the general area in case you are out of your hotel when something happens.
When travelling outside the U.S. with your dog, there are fewer options for searching. Your best bet is to contact either your travel agent, who may be able to help you with general information, or your hotel if you're staying at one. The concierge may be able to put you in touch with come local resources. Of course, if you are staying with friends or family or have friends in the area, you can appeal to them to gather local information for you.
A final consideration is language. Vets are local businesses and if you're travelling in a country where English is not the dominant language and disaster strikes, you may find yourself trying to communicate with a Vet who can't understand you. Learning a few extra phrases that are specific to your dog may be helpful, and a small phrase book might be all you need to dig up the words for "vomiting" or "listless" and get the ball rolling.
This process can be time-consuming, but making an emergency vet part of your trip planning is an important step towards ensuring that you and your dog enjoy a wonderful adventure, not a stressful and possibly tragic chapter. The worst time to do your research on emergency veterinary care is when your beloved dog is suffering or exhibiting alarming behaviour. Plan ahead and be prepared!
About the author: Jackie McLellan and her family are based in Scotland and are animal mad, living with dogs, cats, rabbits and sheep. Jackie breeds beautiful Australian Labradoodle puppies and regularly has labradoodle puppies for sale in the UK.
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