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How to Care For Your Pet's Medications While Traveling

Published on: March 3, 2017  |  Author: Starwood Animal Transport

How to care for your pet's medications while traveling.It’s not uncommon for dogs and cats to take prescription medications, for chronic or age-related conditions. Giving them their meds simply becomes part of our daily routine. But what if you will be traveling with your pet?

What are your pet travel plans?

Are you taking your pet on vacation with you, to visit friends, or some other round trip itinerary of relatively short duration? Or are you moving your house to another country?

If you’ll only be gone a few days, your primary concern is packing enough of your pet’s medications to last – plus a bit more, in case your plans change. If the medication must be refrigerated – insulin, for example – you can use a small, insulated travel cooler with a frozen ice pack to keep the drugs cool. This is especially easy if you’re driving to your destination. It’s a good idea to pack a few Ziploc bags, too, in case you need to replenish your ice supply along the way.

But you have to think ahead. The friend you’re visiting will certainly have a refrigerator, but if you’ll be staying in a hotel, be sure to book accommodations with an in-room fridge. In some places, in-room refrigerators automatically shut off when the room is unoccupied to conserve electricity, so you’ll need to make other arrangements for your pet’s meds.

It gets trickier if you’re flying.

“Medication is ok to place in your carry-on or checked luggage in any form.” That’s the official word from the Transportation Security Administration, the folks responsible for inspecting passengers and carry-on luggage at American airports. Oddly enough, they don’t even require that medications be labeled. 

Normally, the TSA doesn’t allow liquids to pass through security checkpoints, but they make exceptions for liquid medications. Your ice pack is OK, too – as long as it is frozen. Melting ice becomes an unauthorized liquid. So plan accordingly. If your flight is lengthy, ask for some fresh ice cubes to replenish your supply. Or ask if your pet’s medication and ice pack can be stowed in the plane’s fridge until it’s time to depart. (DO NOT forget to retrieve it, though!)

You can carry a Sharps container on board, too – the small travel sizes are most convenient. If you have specific questions, you can call the TSA Cares line at 855-787-2227.

It gets even trickier if you’re traveling internationally.

Pets are extremely popular all around the world. If you’re moving to a foreign country, you may be surprised (or relieved) to see brands of pet foods, common medications, etc., that you recognize from home in the US or the UK. Of course, the packaging may be printed in another language. On the other hand, veterinarians in one country may recommend a different brand or type of product than the one you’re used to.

So, although you want to pack a comfortable supply of your pet’s prescription medicines, don’t overdo it. Instead, make it a priority to find your pet a new vet as soon as you arrive in your new city, so you can get acquainted and maintain your pet’s medication regimen without a hitch.

Quarantine presents additional challenges. Every country has different pet importation requirements. Countries considered to be rabies-free often require a quarantine period for incoming pets, depending on where you’ve been living, even if your pet has a current rabies vaccination and has passed a blood titer test. (This test confirms the vaccine is actively working within your pet’s body.)

So what happens with your pet’s medical needs while he’s in quarantine? That also depends on where you’re headed. For example, Australia handles pet medications this way:

  • If your cat or dog requires prescription medication, his import permit application must include a letter from his veterinarian, stating the type of medication and the dosage.
  • Quarantine personnel will administer your pet’s meds, but you have to supply the medication.
  • Meds are only administered during certain hours. If this doesn’t match your pet’s current schedule, you’ll need to discuss alternative scheduling or treatment options with your vet before you leave home.
  • Any medicine left over when your pet leaves quarantine will be destroyed, not returned to you.

This is just an example. But it underscores the critical importance of learning as far in advance as possible exactly what is required to bring your dog or cat into your destination country. Assembling all the necessary documents can be confusing and time-consuming, especially of your kitty or pup must receive additional immunizations, tests, etc.

Our experts at Starwood Animal Transport can handle all the documentation for your pet’s travel, freeing up your time and freeing you of unnecessary anxiety. You will still need to discuss your pet’s medications and travel plans with your vet, but early preparation will give you untold peace of mind.

Check out our previous blogs on what medications to bring for your dog or cat when traveling abroad.

Flying with your Dog