Jasper and Napoleon go everywhere with me. Even before we hit the road full-time, they were both experienced travelers. Napoleon used to road trip with me to visit family, and even joined us on a family camping trip one year. The trip was complete with him checking out a pontoon boat, which he very promptly jumped off and ran back to the cabin. And ever since he was adopted, Jasper has gone on almost every hiking and camping trip with me.
But when I hit the road full-time, I had to sit down and think about what extra precautions I could take to ensure both of their safety on the road. Below are the 5 key safety items I ensured were set and ready for our life on the road.
1. ID Tags and Microchips
I learned the importance of proper ID, especially microchips, when I volunteered for Hurricane Harvey rescue in Houston, TX. As the lost pets came in, each and every one was scanned for a microchip. If they had one, the owners were called immediately to come and pick up their lost pet. Therefore, both Jasper and Napoleon are microchipped. Jasper was chipped at the rescue I adopted him from. When I took Napoleon in for his annual vet check-up, I asked them to microchip him as well. It was a very quick procedure. This is a huge peace-of-mind knowing that if either lose their collars, which Napoleon does constantly, they can still be ID’d.
2. Vaccination and Vet Records
This is the most frequently used item on this list. Just the other day I took Jasper into a pet store to have his anal glands released, and the first thing they asked me: “Do you have his vaccination records with you?”. If you travel with pets, you will find their these extremely helpful to have along! Vet records may be required for any new vet you visit, pet groomers, kennels or doggie day care, as well as crossing state or country lines. Also, I recommend making sure you always have an up-to-date certificate of their Rabies vaccine.
To ensure I always have a copy of their records along, I ask each vet to print out a summary of our most recent visit. This printed copy is added to a folder that remains in the 4Runner. Then I also ask for an emailed version which I can save in my phone. This way as long as I either have the 4Runner with me, or have cell signal, I can always get to their records.
3. Preventative Medicine
When traveling throughout the country, your pets will come in contact with a wide variety of environments. You could encounter anything from fleas, ticks and mosquitos to different types of bacteria. It’s important to be as prepared as possible for what you may run into. Before hitting the road, check in with your vet and see what type of prescriptions or vaccinations they recommend.
Both Jasper and Napoleon are on flea and tick preventative medicine. Jasper takes an oral version, and Napoleon has a topical one. Jasper also takes heart worm prevention. Depending on our travel schedule, I talk with my vet each year to see what type of regional vaccines we should also consider. He’s had vaccines from snake bite when we were in Texas to Lyme disease when we were heading to the Northeast. Your vet will be the most knowledgeable as to what types of preventative medicine or vaccines to consider.
4. Seat Belts
Living on the road full-time means a lot of time in the car. In under two years we have already driven over 50,000 miles. Although we have been extremely blessed and haven’t had any type of car accidents, there have been a few times we had to stop suddenly. It’s important to consider seat belts for your traveling pets for times like this.
Seat belts not only protect your animal, but they also protect you. In the event of a crash, a pet who is unsecured could potentially fly through the vehicle. If they hit you during a high speed crash, this could be extremely dangerous. Therefore, for everyone’s safety, seat belts are a great and relatively inexpensive item to consider. If you are interested in what we use, check out our Pet Seat Belts & Safety post.
5. Vet Plan – Annual visits & Emergencies
Even though you are traveling around, the annual vet visits still need to occur. We have yet to be in the same place around the same time of year, so Jasper and Napoleon’s annual vet visits are always at different practices. So far, this has actually been pretty easy. I just open Google Maps and search for “vet” in the area. After reading their reviews and ensuring we only consider the highest rated, I then check out their website to see what type of experience the vets have. Once I feel comfortable with the practice, I just give them a call to book.
Remember that folder of vet records I keep in the truck? This is another time when they become extremely handy. I just walk in with the folder and the vet has all of the animals’ history, from their vaccines to any illnesses they may have had.
Another item to consider is what will you do in an emergency? What if the animals get sick or have an accident and you need to rush them in? Luckily, this has not yet happened to us, but it is good to have a plan in place. Our plan is to use Google to search for emergency vet or animal hospital in the area. Typically these type of practices have some sort of 24 hour call line.
Although we have been very lucky and haven’t encountered any issues on the road, the above five items are what I did to prepare for a nomadic lifestyle with my pets. I would love to hear if you have had any other experiences or any suggestions. Feel free to comment below!