Must-have pet documents to bring on your vacation

From carrying a photo of your pet to having your local vet's contact details on hands, one pet expert shares six important things to keep in mind when travelling with your pet.

Must-have pet documents to bring on your vacation
You've purchased your dog's favourite food in bulk and have stocked up on toys for your cat's travel crate, but do you have your pet's health documents on your packing list?

Before you go on vacation with your four-legged companion, make sure you're prepared for the unthinkable—a pet emergency away from home. We spoke to Dr. Bernhard Pukay, a veterinary consultant and Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) council member, for a list of must-have documents to pack when travelling with your pet.

1. Your vet's contact details
It may seem unnecessary to carry your veterinarian's telephone number, fax details and email address when you're out of the province or country, but it's actually the first piece of information you need during a pet emergency. According to Dr. Pukay, if your pet becomes sick or is hurt in a holiday accident, the nearest animal ER or vet clinic may want to confirm your pet's medical history. These details will also allow the attending veterinarian to share the details of the emergency visit with your at-home vet.

2. Your pet's vaccination records
Can you name all of the vaccinations that your pet has received? Do you know when they were administered? Most pet owners have trouble recalling the complete list, so bringing this information with you is essential. Some jurisdictions, like the United States, won't let you into the country without inspecting a copy of your pet's vaccination records.

"The U.S. will want a basic rabies certificate," says Dr. Pukay. "Other countries have different criteria and may require a health certificate that states your pet shows no obvious signs of illness."

A few weeks before your departure, check your destination's official border agency website for pet entry requirements. This will also tell you if your pet needs any additional vaccinations or preventative treatments for health hazards such as Lyme disease or heartworm parasites that may be common in that region.

3. Your pet's medical history

Keep a medical history of past surgeries or health problems—such as heart murmurs and diabetes—handy in case your animal falls ill. "Before you travel, ask your vet if you can photocopy your pet's records covering the last two years," says Dr. Pukay.

If you're without a medical history for your pet, don't be surprised if the attending vet orders basic lab tests. "You might have to pay extra fees to establish a baseline for your pet's health," says Dr. Pukay. Having copies of your pet's medical history will save you time and money, plus it will get Fido or Fluffy treated in a timely fashion.

4. Prescriptions for your pet's meds

If your dog or cat takes medication regularly, it's important to carry written prescriptions from your vet. Replacing lost medications in a foreign country or province can be difficult without one. And don't be surprised if the attending vet still wants to see your pet to prevent forgery. "When you have the prescription as well as the medical records, they'll usually fill it if you come in for a brief exam," says Dr. Pukay.

5. A list of allergies
Depending on where you're staying (a resort or hotel), you might want to enlist a pet-sitting service to oversee your dog. Providing a list of allergies and food sensitivities with the sitter will help keep your pet out of the vet clinic and prevent diarrhea or vomiting. It's also important to include non-food allergens, such as grass, on your list. Pets with skin conditions can become very itchy and distressed after a romp on a grassy lawn.

6. A photo of your pet
Always keep a photo of your pet on hand. You can either have it in your bag, or on your smartphone in case of emergency. In the off chance that you lose your pet, this will be the quickest way for you to share a description of your furry friend with people around you.

For more advice on travelling with your pets, check out these essential 10 tips.

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This article is featured on The pet owner's guide to healthy, happy pets