As the holiday season quickly approaching, there are more opportunities for traveling with your furry family members. While adventures in the great outdoors can make for beautiful memories, there are precautions pet owners should take to keep their pets safe and healthy while traveling.
Allow yourself time to visit your veterinarian to ensure your pet is up to date on vaccinations and healthy enough to travel. If your pet is taking medications, make sure you have enough medication with you for the duration of your trip, and allow for extra medications to be handy in case your travels are delayed. Make sure all medications are labeled properly and separated from your own medications. If you are going to be staying out of town for several days, take the time to locate an emergency veterinarian near your destination.
While out exploring with your pet, you may encounter naturally occurring toxins. Below is a list of natural toxins you may encounter with your pet if you are traveling to warmer areas:
Blue Green Algae
Cyanobacteria, also known as blue green algae, can be found in all types of water. These bacteria thrive in calm, warm, shallow water. While more common in the summer months, blue green algae may be present all year round. If you see a body of water with green algae floating on the surface, do not allow your pet play in the water. These bacteria can be fatal and can cause damage to the brain, liver, and skin. If you suspect your pet has been exposed to these bacteria, bring them to the veterinarian immediately and contact Pet Poison Helpline®.
Where there are flowers, there will be bees. While bees can initially seem like fun playthings, they do pose a risk for stings. Bees can sting any part of your pet, but stings are most commonly seen on the face and paws. For many pets, bee stings can cause mild symptoms of discomfort and swelling at the sting site. Some pets are allergic to bee stings, and one sting can cause a severe reaction, leading to difficulty breathing. If your pet has been stung, contact Pet Poison Helpline® for further assistance.
While caterpillars are fun to watch, they can cause serious health problems if ingested. Some caterpillars are harmless, but other species can cause severe irritation, toxicity, and difficulty breathing. If your pet ingests a caterpillar, contact Pet Poison Helpline® or bring them to a veterinarian.
Snakes can live in almost every part of the United States, so being aware of the potential species can help keep your pet safe. Make sure your pet is leashed at all times and keep them on designated walking paths. If your pet is bitten by a snake, try to take a photo of the snake to help with identification, and bring your pet to a veterinarian immediately.
These are only a few common examples of toxins you can encounter when out with your furry family member. Make sure to research the area you will be in to help identify other potential dangers. Preparedness is key and will help keep your pets safe, happy travels!
Written by Darren Yang, PPH DVM student extern, University of California Davis Class of 2023
Lizzy Olmsted, CVT, Veterinary Information Specialist