By Dr. Laurie Hess, DVM, Diplomate ABVP (Avian Practice)
Happy vacation season!
While summer is the perfect time to take a trip, it’s important to create a game plan for your pet during your travels. Whether you’re voyaging on a cross-country road trip or escaping to a relaxing resort, keep these tips in mind for your bird’s best interest.
Choosing a Bird-sitter
Birds are creatures of habit, so it’s ideal to keep them in their own environment and ask a caretaker to come to your home while you’re away. Once you’ve called your bird-sitter’s references, invite him/her over several times prior to your departure so that you can show firsthand how you care for your pet and can practice feeding and handling together.
Updating Your Veterinarian
Be sure to leave your emergency contact information and your veterinarian’s contact information with your bird-sitter, in case of an emergency. If your pet needs emergency veterinary care, leaving a credit card or another form of payment with your bird-sitter can be helpful. Inform your veterinarian you’re leaving town and provide written consent for your caretaker to make decisions on your behalf if you’re unreachable during an emergency.
Getting Your Bird Acclimated
Many birds travel well with their owners, but given that birds are creatures of habit, it’s best to practice before you leave. Set your bird’s carrier out near your bird in the house weeks before you travel. Offer your bird treats in the carrier each day and let him move in and out of the carrier freely to get the treats. Then, he’ll associate the carrier with a pleasant experience.
On the Road
If you are going to be driving with your bird, take some shorter “practice” road trips before the big drive to acclimate your bird to the sights and sounds of the car. Like other pets, never leave your bird in a car unattended as that can be dangerous to their health and wellbeing.
If you are flying with your bird, check with the airline beforehand to see what kind of health certificate you’ll need (and how far in advance) before your flight. If you are flying internationally, check with the consulate of your destination country about any bird regulations in place. Some countries have specific restrictions and medical tests that need to be performed by veterinarians before birds can cross international lines. Be sure to alert your veterinarian about any tests and/or restrictions at least a couple of weeks before you travel to give your veterinarian enough time to order testing kits and provide a health certificate.