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What to do when you're traveling and your pet isn't

What to Do When You Are Traveling During Your Pet’s Chemotherapy Protocol

By Ann Schramm, LVT, CVPM

Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, if your pet is currently receiving chemotherapy and they are NOT traveling with you, here is some food for thought.

In addition to the typical feeding, watering, and potty schedules, your pet sitter will need to be able to answer the following questions:

How Did Your Pet Do After Their Last Chemotherapy Treatment?

This is vital information. If your pet had a significant reaction or pronounced side effects to the previous dose of chemotherapy, we need to know this so that we ensure dose adjustments are made or potentially change the protocol to avoid this medication in the future.

Were Any Supportive Medications Given Following the Previous Treatment? What Medications Is Your Pet Currently Taking? Has Anything Changed? Are Any Refills Needed During the Appointment?

As with the previous question, we need to know which medications were given and why. If we need to add additional supportive care to the protocol, we need to know this. We all want your pet to have quality time with you while undergoing chemotherapy.

It is important to let your pet sitter know if any refills are needed in advance. We want to make the appointment as convenient as possible for your pet’s caretaker; in particular, we want to avoid causing them to run additional errands looking for medication or having to call an emergency vet because they did not know they needed more medication until we were closed for the day.

Does Your Pet’s Caretaker Know All the Details Pertaining to Appointment Times, Dates, and Addresses?

In order to ensure that we have adequate time to treat your pet during its appointment, it is important for your pet sitter to arrive on the right day, at the right time, and at the right location.

Is Your Pet Sitter Allowed to Make Medical and/or Financial Decisions for Your Pet?

If your pet sitter is allowed to make medical and/or financial decisions (and they are not already a co-owner on your account registration), you will need to provide this approval to our practice in writing in advance of your trip. Please be explicit in what permissions you are granting and what permissions you are not willing to share.

If this is something that you are uncomfortable with, will you be available to discuss any changes to your pet’s health with our specialists during the time of the appointment? While we do not want to interrupt your trip, we do want to ensure that your pet receives timely care and that we can make treatment adjustments with your approval.  

How Will Payment Be Provided?

This is never the fun part of the visit, but it is still necessary. You are welcome to send your pet sitter with payment, or if it is easier, we can send you a remote payment link so that you may take care of payment from anywhere.

Have You Advised Your Pet Sitter on How to Safely Manage Handle Chemotherapy Medication (if Given at Home) or Post-Chemotherapy Side Effects?

It is imperative that you warn your pet sitter of their safety risks, provide them with information on what precautions they will need to take, and how to safely give chemotherapy medication or clean up waste. If you don’t have a copy on hand, please share our Pet Chemotherapy Guide with them online. There is a section on how to take care of your pet in the second half of the page.

While it is fairly obvious if your pet is actually vomiting or having diarrhea, your pet sitter may need to know what signs to watch for if your pet is feeling unwell in a less obvious fashion. Does your pet have typical ways that they show you they are nauseous – do they just stop eating, do they smack their lips, do they go to the food dish but walk away without eating anything?  If your pet is feeling unwell (not related to gastrointestinal side effects), how do they typically show this?

Does Your Pet Sitter Have Our Contact Information in Case Your Pet Needs Support?

Please be sure to keep a copy of the following contact information on hand so that they may reach us as needed.

  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Website

Does Your Pet Sitter Know How to Reach an Emergency/Urgent Care Veterinarian?

Oncology patient or not, your pet sitter should ALWAYS have contact information for the local emergency veterinary hospital, and these days, they should have multiple contacts (in case the local hospital is not accepting patients). Please see this list of emergency and urgent care veterinary hospitals.

We want your pet to have the best outcome and for your trip to be as stress-free as possible.

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