Period Pets 2- Packing and Travelling With Your Pet
(This is second in a series that was originally printed in the newsletter of the Principality of the Mists. Reprinted with permission of the author)

Period Pets is a three-part series on enjoying the SCA with your furry companion(s). While dogs are used as the primary example, the same basic concepts can be applied to other animals as well.


If you are planning on taking your pet to the event, it is important to pack for the pet as well as yourself. While it may be period to have pets eat human scraps and sleep on the open ground, modern pets have higher standards and live much longer due to better care. These items can easily be packed into a "pet box" or bag so everything is together and only a few things need to be replenished after every event.

Collar or harness, ID tags and lead: these are vital for every event, even just a day-trip.

Current "pet passport": get a good, clear, reproducible photo of your pet in case it does get lost en route or at the event. With the photo, list any identifying marks or patterns, and microchip number if your pet has this permanent form of identification.

Health certificate and records: the veterinarian who has been giving your pet their vaccinations should be able to print out a copy of those vaccines in an instant. This can be very handy if you have to cross state borders or if your pet nips anyone. A health certificate is usually required for airline flights, and entails a physical exam by the veterinarian as well as reviewing current vaccination status.

Medications: if your pet has chronic problems which require ongoing medication, bring it. Some medications require refrigeration, so place them in a sealed container and make room for them in the icebox. If your pet has chronic problems, it is also a good idea to bring along a copy of their medical records in case of emergencies.

Waste disposal: for cats, this can be in the form of a "disposable box"or litter pan liners as well as their normal litter. For dogs, several plastic bags is enough.

Food and water dishes: if your pet is particular about their china, be sure to bring their usual food and water dishes. If not, you may want to have a set of "travelling bowls"packed which are nonbreakable and can hold a sufficient amount of food and water for your pet.

Regular food and water: one of the fastest ways to a case of diarrhea is to abruptly change the pet's diet. Be sure to pack enough food for all meals planned, and then pack two extra meals in case of spillage or unforeseen delays. Some animals are also sensitive to water changes, and as we all know the water is not potable at every event. Pack at least one or two bottles of house water for your pet. Some pets are very anxious and will refuse to drink & adding a small amount of low-sodium beef or chicken broth to flavor the water can encourage hydration.

Bedding and shelter: if an overnight event is planned, think about where your pet is going to spend the evening hours. Are they accustomed to sleeping with you, or do they have a regular bed of their own? Is the weather likely to rule out sleeping under the stars? If the pet has a regular bed or pillow, bring it along. If your pet is accustomed to a crate as a "home away from home"then set it in the appropriate location. If the weather is likely to be wet or cold, be sure to prepare for that as well by packing extra blankets and possibly an extra tent or tarp.


First-Aid Kit

Just as you should pack a basic first-aid kit for yourself, you should have one prepared for your pet as well. Many of these common items can be used for both yourself and your pet.

• Roll gauze: This can be used as a bandage or as a muzzle. Most dog books have a section on how to make a muzzle out of a piece of rope or gauze. If your animal is injured or painful, a muzzle may be necessary prior to any other treatments. Use 3"or 4"gauze.

• Gauze sponges: These can be used for cleaning wounds or bandaging abrasions. 3"or 4"can be used, depending on the size of the dog.

• Adhesive tape: Used to secure bandages in place. If necessary, duct tape can be used though fabric adhesive tape is preferable.

• Scissors: To cut tape, gauze, long hairs, etc.

• Tweezers or blunt-tip forceps: for removing splinters, foxtails, and other foreign bodies.

• Penlight or flashlight: This is vital when you have an injury at night. It also allows you to evaluate the interior of an animal's mouth and ears well, as well as checking pupil size and reactivity if there is head trauma.

• Ice and plastic bag: For superficial burns. Be sure to wrap the improvised ice pack with a towel or cloth before applying to skin.

• Betadine antiseptic solution and antibiotic ointments: necessary to clean out and treat mild abrasions. Remember that your pet is very likely to lick off any antibiotic ointments applied, so only apply a thin layer so they don't ingest too much ointment.

• Rectal thermometer: Be sure to label this one very obviously as for the pet. A small container of lubricant is also advised.

• Large syringe: Important to measure out treatments for ingestion of toxins. Also can be used as a handy basting device for cooking.

• Measuring spoons: Needed for the following medications. These are administered with the syringe above.

• Activated charcoal: This is used to neutralize toxins that may have been eaten. Give 1 gram per pound of body weight dissolved in 1/2 to 1 cup of water.

• Emetics: You should have at least one of the following.

• Syrup of ipecac -- give 1/2 to 1 teaspoon by mouth

• Hydrogen peroxide -- mix with an equal amount of water and give 1-2 teaspoons by mouth

• Dry mustard -- 1-2 teaspoons or 1 tablespoon in 1 cup of water by mouth

• Acid ingestion treatments: If your pet has eaten or drunk an acidic solution, it should be neutralized with one of the following.

• Baking soda -- Mix baking soda with water until no more can be dissolved. Give 1-2 teaspoons by mouth.

• Milk of Magnesia -- Give 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds body weight by mouth

• Alkali ingestion treatments: If your pet has eaten or drunk a basic solution, it should be neutralized with one of the following.

• Vinegar -- 1 to 5 teaspoons by mouth

• Lemon juice -- 1 to 5 teaspoons by mouth


Your pet should be used to some trips in the car by this time, and feel comfortable in the harness and/or crate that you have been training it in. If your pet suffers from travel sickness, consult with your veterinarian prior to the trip about getting medication to treat this problem. The medication is likely to be pills, which need to be given 30 minutes to an hour prior to effect. The medication may also cause sleepiness, which is considered normal. It is also a good idea to withhold food for 3-6 hours prior to travel to prevent vomiting. Do not withhold water, however.

Try to encourage your pet to go to the bathroom prior to your journey. One way to do this is to confine your pet to a crate for a few hours prior to departure, then allow them access to their normal facilities 30 minutes before you leave. Multiple layers of towels and newspapers in the carrier should absorb any accidents.

If your pet is traveling in a carrier or crate, ensure that the temperature is kept comfortable. In hot weather, consider wrapping an ice pack in a towel and placing it in the carrier to cool the critter down. In cold weather, a hot-water bottle can prevent chills. In either case, be sure the carrier allows the pet to move away from the pack or bottle if it is uncomfortable.

When traveling, stop every 2-3 hours for a bathroom and exercise break. For dogs and the few rare cats that walk on harness, taking them outside on a lead fills both purposes. For most cats, placing a litterbox in the back or floor of the car and placing them in it usually is enough. Offer the pet a small amount of water at this time. Make sure the pet is not overheated or chilled. Do not use the little plastic dishes that clip onto the pet's carrier door for food and water -- inevitably they spill and cause a mess. Once you get to the site, give your pet another exercise and bathroom break before setting up your camp.


Part 3 of Period Pets will deal with on-site hazards, first aid and petiquette .

Lady Original Nightshade is a dropout of the Salerno School of Medicine and travels with a mercenary band as chrirurgeon for both animals and people.

Dr. Shanna Compton is a small-animal veterinarian who practices in San Jose.

Return to the Calafia Homepage - Return to the Calafian Library

Last updated on 8/23/00 (P)