Medical Travel and Pets — Difficulties and Benefits


One of the biggest questions we get asked is how medical travel works when you have pets.

Just like anything, there are pluses and minuses. You have to weigh the benefits with the potential difficulties to decide if you want to bring your pets along or leave them with a friend or family member.

Here’s what you need to know and medical travel with your pets.

1. Adventurous Pets — Dogs Especially — Are Going to Love Visiting New Locales

As any pet owner knows, all pets have their own quirks and personalities. Some are more adventurous while others are homebodies.

Some pets, dogs especially, are known for loving to explore. The new scents they’ll constantly discover as you move from one assignment to the next will keep them excited and happy for the whole time you’re traveling.

If you have a pet that’s adventurous and loves to explore — from a big ole’ Saint Bernard to a tiny hampster — then they’re going to love medical travel.

What’s really cool about having a pet like this is that you can explore the new environment together.

If you’re going to downtown Baltimore, they can come along and experience the big city. If you’re hiking in Asheville, NC, they’ll get to experience the mountain winds and forest smells with you.

Basically, you’re gonna have a friend with you everywhere you go, and it’s hard to beat that.

2. Some Pets Will Struggle with All the New Environments — Even if They’re Inside Pets

They say that dogs connect with people while cats connect with places, and it’s pretty true. Cats — even outdoor cats — tend to be homebodies. They have their territory, and they like to stick to it.

Some pets — cats are a great example — aren’t going to like traveling much.

If you’ve ever driven in a car with a cat, you probably know what we’re talking about.

That being said, there are cats that act more like dogs and dogs that act more like cats, so it might be the case that your cat is going to love exploring the new locale while your dachshund cowers under the bed.

The important thing is to know your pet and their preferences and limits before you start traveling. This way, you can make the decision whether they’d have a good time traveling with you or if it would just be too much to bear.

Keep in mind too that even inside pets might struggle with being in a new environment. Because you’re constantly moving from apartment to Airbnb to hotel and back again, your pets might not like constantly having to explore a new set of rooms.

Using cats as an example again, there are many cats that, in a new apartment or house, will hide under the bed for days before even beginning to explore — and even then, it might take a week or two for them to get fully acclimated.

So use your best judgment before you bring your pets with you. Make sure it’s not going to be too hard on them.

3. With the Constant Changes in Your Social Circle, Having a Pet Can Be a Huge Uplift

Another thing to consider is that you can seriously benefit from having a pet around while you’re doing medical travel.

Some travelers will travel with their significant other, but many travel alone. Because you’re constantly moving from one place to the next, it’s pretty hard to develop a social circle.

Sure, there will be staff everywhere you go, and there will usually be other travelers who you can connect with and who will understand the life you’re living, but in a few weeks or a few months, you’ll have moved on, which means your social circle has suddenly become you.

It’s great to maintain connections with friends and family through telephone and video calls as you travel, but sometimes having that in-person connection is just super important.

That’s where a pet comes in. Pets can be hugely beneficial to your mental health because, when you come home from a long day, they’re there to greet you — and with the unconditional love that pets are known for, it can be a huge comfort when times are a little tough.

You might have to pay for a pet sitter while you work long shifts, but in the end, if they’re happy and you’re happy, it’s worth it.

4. Having to Change Vets Constantly Can Be a Pain

Something a lot of travelers don’t consider until they’ve already begun traveling is that you’re going to have to change vets — a lot.

Now it’s possible that your pet is healthy enough and you visit home enough that you won’t have to change your vet, but if you’ve got a young animal that still needs a lot of vaccinations, or if you have a pet with a chronic illness or who just gets sick a lot, then regular vet visits are a must.

That means going to a new vet every time you go to a new assignment, which can be a huge pain.

You’ll have to fill out new patient paperwork every time you go to a new vet, and they’ll all want vaccination records, which can start to pile up. You’ll end up with a ton of paperwork.

However, as long as you stay organized, you’ll be able to make it work. Keep all the paperwork in a single folder. If you have multiple pets, create sections for each one.

It’s also helpful to write down, on a single sheet of paper, all the vaccines and treatments each pet has had. That way, you’ll be able to give that info to the new vets right away.

If your pet needs medicine regularly, your vet back home might be able to provide it even if you travel. Every vet and state is different, so check with them before you go to a new vet for more meds.

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