How to Keep Your Pet Healthy While Traveling

Pet Pests

When traveling with your pet, you should take a copy of the animal's medical records with you -- including vaccinations -- and learn about the diseases present in the area you'll be visiting.

In the northeast United States, you must inoculate cats and dogs against heartworm, a mosquito-borne disease. Tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis are also on the rise. This danger is highest during the summer months, when many vacationers head to mountain resorts and country houses. Dogs are more susceptible to these diseases than people, since they're close to the ground and their fur makes an attractive location for ticks to bury themselves [source: Sacks].

Lyme disease is conveyed by ticks so minute, they can elude many topical flea and tick repellents. If you're looking forward to hiking in the woods with Rover, a flea and tick collar is not a sufficient preventative measure. Consider asking your vet to administer the Lyme disease vaccine.

Lyme disease is a serious malady that can cause lameness, seizures, kidney failure and neurological damage in cats and dogs. It often goes undetected in its early stages. If your pet is eating less, lacking energy and seems to have aching joints, these could be the early warning signs of the onset of Lyme disease [source: James].

The Lyme vaccine has been criticized and questioned for its safety and effectiveness since hundreds of patients developed arthritis and joint swelling after receiving it. Some natural remedies include spraying your pet with a citrus-based solution and feeding it tonic herbs like garlic. These may be less effective -- but more benign -- than the vaccine [source: Sacks].

Conscientious grooming is key to the prevention of tick-borne diseases. Even if a tick attaches itself to an animal, it usually takes no more than two days to spread the disease. Make grooming part of the daily schedule during your travels. Check your pet all over for pests buried beneath its coat.

If you do find a bloodsucker attached, use tweezers to remove it. Make sure you extract the tick's entire body, including its tenacious jaws. While you're at it, you can search for fleas or for the tiny brown droppings they leave behind.