I love to travel. And, traveling with a disability has presented me with many interesting challenges and situations throughout the years. So, of course, traveling with an assistance dog has added additional scenarios that I have had to address.
During my most recent out-of-state travel excursions, my assistance dog, Whistle, had some minor medical issues that required professional attention. On one trip, he developed a deep cough that was diagnosed as tonsillitis. On the last trip, I noticed him chewing on his back paw. He had a blister in between the webbing of his pad.
My husband, Franz, and I found ourselves on each of these occasions in a hotel trying to locate a qualified veterinarian in an unknown community. I am happy to report that on both occasions Whistle received excellent care. And because of this excellent care, we were able to complete all of our planned travel activities. But, it was a stressful situation until we were able to find a vet clinic and get the medical care and medicine that he needed.
I did learn a couple of things that I wanted to share with you. First, from now on when I travel, I will do some additional planning by checking with my local vet to see if he knows of a vet in our travel destination. If not, then it’s up to me to do some research and create my own resource list.
By simply searching the Internet, I can determine if there is a 24-hour emergency clinic in close proximity to our hotel. It should also be pretty easy to identify one or two veterinarians in the area along with a local dog supply store. I can then compile this information onto a one-page resource list.
The resource list can easily be stored in a plastic sheet protector and filed in my travel folder along with airline tickets, rental vehicle information, etc. Using colored paper is another tip that will make the resource list easier to locate when I might be stressed. Keeping a copy available in a backpack or some other carry-on luggage for quick access is important. However, just to be on the safe side, I will probably place a second copy in my suitcase as a back-up.
It does add one extra task to the packing and planning process but it will give me a sense of calm knowing that I have this information available to me in case Whistle has an urgent medical need arise.
Another quick tip that I wanted to share with you occurred during our first trip this summer. After we had identified a vet and while we were driving to that local vet’s office, I contacted Whistle’s vet and asked his staff to fax Whistle’s medical information to the attending vet in this city. That was very helpful to the new vet and enabled him to quickly assess Whistle’s health needs and overall health.
If you are a traveler with an assistance dog, it is inevitable that your dog might need veterinarian care while you two are on a trip. With a little pre-planning, you can respond to any situation and keep your assistance dog happy and healthy and your travel plans on schedule!