Q: Taking a short three-day trip during spring break and having to board my Springer Trixie reminded me of a question I would like help with. Trixie is only a year and a half old and is very energetic. We board her when we travel somewhere where she can have free-play a good part of the day. With all the weird weather what types of precautions do we need to take for her? My parents are both getting up there in years and they live out of state requiring us to take more short trips.
She has a collar and tags on it with both her and our information. We always leave several telephone contact numbers, but I worry in case she should escape or a tornado might come through. What suggestions do you have for upping our chances of her being found and returned to us?
A: The first thing I would recommend is to take her to your veterinarian and have her microchipped. Be sure the chip can be read by a Universal Scanner. She may lose tags, or her collar may be removed by children at play or someone who likes her as much as you and decides to keep her.
Having a microchip greatly enhances her return to you if picked up by a rescue group or animal shelter. Many veterinarians scan every new patient that comes in. This will help you get her back sooner.
Home Again has a “Bells and whistles” plan that when reported lost, a notice complete with all her information and a picture of her, if available, is sent out to all veterinarians and shelters within a 25-mile radius of where she was lost.
When you take her to the kennel, take an information sheet with you that lists her name, sex, breed and age, her shot record (required for boarding), any phone numbers for you, the name, address and phone number of her veterinarian as well as a name and number of a neighbor or relative that knows and will be responsible for her. Since she is so young there are likely no diseases or medical problems but if so, list them along with any medications, their doses and frequency of administration.
It is also a good idea to list her microchip number, rabies tag number, color of her collar and any identifying marks she may have. A picture of her attached adds a real bonus should she get lost.
Also attach a note that authorizes your pet sitter and veterinarian to treat her as needed in case of an emergency.
It is always a good idea to check what food the kennel feeds and if different from what she is used to eating, take her own food with her. This can save a bout of diarrhea from simply changing her food. If time allows before your trip, take her to visit the kennel and staff, or let her day care there a day or so, so she gets used to the new environment. Take any treats she is used to getting and leave instructions for them to be given on her normal schedule. If they will allow it, taking her own bed from home can help give her some comfort. If her bed is too large, sleep with a towel on your pillow and take it for her to have with your smells on it. This can offer a lot of comfort and help to stave off separation anxiety.
Be sure you make it clear what you want in case of a catastrophic situation such as a phone call, nearest friend or relative to pick her up or specific instructions for the nearest storm shelter if an in-home caregiver is in charge of her. Be sure to carry your cell phone and check it frequently while you are away. Occasionally bad weather can prevent a call from going through, but a message will be on your voice mail. With this advance planning both you and Trixie will rest better.
DR. M. MARGARET KING, a longtime Edmond veterinarian, is a guest columnist. If you have any questions for her, email them to email@example.com.