How to Handle a Pet Emergency Abroad

When travelling, an emergency can occur at any time. When an emergency involves your pet, it can become a bit more challenging to handle. Before you leave, you must think about the possibility of you needing to get your pet to a veterinarian overseas— but how? What if you lose him and need help finding him, but no one speaks your language?

How to Handle a Pet Emergency Abroad
What if you lose him and need help finding him, but no one speaks your language?

Well, don’t worry, because these are all the ways to handle a pet emergency abroad.

Identification Is Crucial

Your pet must have I.D. to travel overseas in the first place, but there are several forms you may not know about. You can obtain a pet passport, which situates all medical records and I.D. in one central place.

Placing I.D. tags on your pet’s collar is a great way to prevent him from getting lost in transit during the flight. It also allows you to easily locate him if he gets lost or runs away during the trip.

You should also consider microchipping your pet. If he gets lost and someone takes him to an animal shelter or vet, they can scan his microchip to reveal his unique identification number. A microchip could make your life easier– many vets even require this before your pet boards a plane.

Always carry a photo of your pet with you in case he runs away and you need to prove you are his owner. This photo should be small so you can easily tuck it inside a wallet or purse. You can keep photos of your pet on your mobile phone as well.

Locate a Veterinarian Beforehand

It would be wise to locate and contact a veterinarian in your destination country prior to your arrival. This will give you time to send over your pet’s medical records and make your new vet aware of any issues he or she might have.

dog getting checkup at vet
Be aware of your pet, his ailments, limitations, and behavior in order to keep him safe.

For example, if your dog has diabetes and has an attack during the trip, you can arrive at the vet’s office knowing they’re already prepared to treat him. If there is not a veterinarian in the area, then ask your current veterinarian what to do in case of such an event.

Advice may include packing extra insulin with ice packs for the road, or even a few more bags of treats to boost your pet’s sugar levels. Be aware of your pet, his ailments, limitations, and behavior in order to keep him safe.

Remain Calm

If an emergency does occur, either with your pet or with your environment, remain calm. Animals can register if you are stressed out, which will stress them out. There are different ways to help them with this:

  • Bring small treats to keep them focused on you and what you have. This will distract them from their current surroundings.
  • Invest in a thunder cap, which will filter a dog or cat’s vision to reduce environmental stimulants.
  • Refrain from using drugs prescribed by your vet that will make them lethargic and immobile.

Have a Plan in Case Your Pet Gets Lost

Your dog or cat runs off into the crowds of Florence in front of the Duomo. There are hundreds of people shuffling along and you lose sight of him. What do you do?

poster of lost dog
If your pet is lost for more than one day, visit local shelters or put up posters.

Of course, you can chase after him. However, it would be a good idea to have an emergency contact that you could call to help you track him down. Many major cities provide visitor centers which will contact authorities. You can inform them of your lost pet, show them your pet’s photo, and hopefully get help tracking him down.

If your pet is lost for more than one day, visit local shelters or put up posters. Ask the locals if they’ve seen him and be sure to bring a photo to identify him. If your pet is wearing his collar with I.D. tags, then finding him will be a lot easier. And always, always be sure to keep him on a leash.

Know Your Escape Route

In case of an environmental disaster, be sure to know your escape plan. If you’re in a hotel, ensure you review its disaster plans for things such as fires, tornadoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. The safest course of action will all depend on the event and where you are staying, but knowing your escape route is a good way to stay safe.

It’s a good idea to practice the route with your dog in order to help him acclimate to the new path down the stairs or through the basement. When animals are already comfortable with an area, then they’re likely to be less stressed during an emergency.

Train Your Pet Before Leaving

Taking classes with your pet to help him get over anxiety or stress can help prevent unnecessary emergencies during travel. It would also be helpful to teach your pet recall commands to ensure he will always be with you during such events.

Cats may be harder to train in this case, but it would not hurt to try. Making them comfortable with coming to you on their own instead of prying them out from under the bed will save you time, and perhaps save your lives.


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