You would never dream of hitting the road unprepared for emergencies. You have your personal protection – your wallet, health insurance, auto insurance, cell phone, roadside assistance. And you probably carry emergency car equipment like extra water, a jack and spare tire, tool kit, and snow chains. So why wouldn’t you take the same care for your pet?
Follow the Boy Scout Motto - Be Prepared
If you have a problem on the road, you’ll need to take care of more than just yourself and your car. Your pet will need consideration, too. And because emergencies are times of high stress, it’s always wise to prepare for every situation in advance, so you can act quickly when the problem moment arises.
First, consider what you’ll need if you and your pet have to leave your vehicle for a night or a few days. You might put together a small duffle bag that contains your pet’s food, medications, a spare leash and collar, a food and water bowl, plastic bags, and a copy of your veterinarian’s card or contact information. Include a copy of your pet’s latest vaccination records – you may need to present this at a hotel or campground. Familiar items like a toy, blanket, or favorite treat can help your pet feel at home in new surroundings. And if your dog gets chilled easily, be sure to have a doggie sweater or jacket handy.
Second, make some pet-related additions to your RV or car first-aid kit. For your pet, include a 50-foot rope, a can opener, leash, blood stopper, solar blanket, drinking water pouches, plastic bags, and extra food. Your veterinarian can suggest equipment like bandage tape, scissors, cotton bandage rolls, ointment, alcohol, saline, and a good pet first-aid reference book. You may also want to carry spare flea and tick medication. And you’ll certainly want copies of all medical records and extra medication, if your pet takes any. If possible, keep a pet carrier in your vehicle. Small pets can use soft-sided, collapsible carriers that are easy to store.
Third, plan ahead. Be sure your pet always wears a collar with identification tags and (for dogs) a rabies tag. If you’re traveling and don’t have a permanent address, you might put your cell-phone number on the tag, and perhaps the address of a trusted friend who knows how to contact you in an emergency. Your veterinarian may also be willing to act as your pet’s emergency “home base.” Every few months, it’s smart to take pictures of your pets with you. This will not only help in the event that your pet gets lost and you need to post pictures, but it also provides proof of ownership in case the two of you become separated. And microchipping is an excellent back-up measure, since this form of identification works even if your pet loses its collar and tags.
Fourth, consider a variety of possibilities. Imagine some situations you and your pet might be in. A flat tire in the mountains? Out of gas in the desert? Broken down on the highway? Think through what you would do in these circumstances and what would be best for your pet. Then you can take steps to prepare in advance, so you’ll be ready just in case. Your pet would always prefer to be where you are, so do everything you can to make sure you’ll be able to stay together in an emergency. That way you’ll have a cheery companion in a tough situation, and your team can be safe, happy, and secure together.