Did somebody say “road trip?” The dog days of summer are a prime time to embark on a weekend getaway or much-needed vacation. When your travel companion includes your sporting dog, though, be wary that high temperatures and humidity can quickly take a toll on him or her. So before you rev up the engine and hit the road, follow these tips for safe travels with your dog during the steamy summer months.
Primed and Ready
Make sure your dog is well-accustomed to travel before leaving on any trip. Start by taking him or her on short errands to condition your dog for riding in a vehicle. The more comfortable your dog is in the car, the longer he or she can ride.
Your dog also should be up-to-date on vaccinations, so keep a printed copy handy. If you plan to be away for a long period of time, research veterinarians in your destination area in case of emergency. Don’t forget to bring along a fully stocked canine first-aid kit containing items such as absorbent gauze pads, elastic bandages, tape, tweezers, antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, antihistamine, saline solution, and any prescribed or recommended medications by your veterinarian. You should also always pack a thermometer, especially during summer travel to ensure your dog doesn’t overheat.
Call ahead to hotels, campgrounds, or rental properties to make sure they allow dogs and what, if any, restrictions they may pose. Ask whether there is an area on the grounds to let your dog out. During your stay, take responsibility for your dog by cleaning up after him or her outside and ensuring he or she is quiet and well-mannered while on the property.
Last but not least, make sure your dog is microchipped and wears a collar with your contact information.
While riding in a vehicle, confine your dog to a crate or restraining harness to ensure his or her safety. A dog should never travel unrestrained in the bed of a truck. Sudden stops or sharp turns of the wheel can cause your dog to slide around, even out of the vehicle, and potentially become injured. If you leave the windows open, crack them just enough to allow air to flow through, but not enough for your dog to hang out.
Never leave your dog in the car or truck unattended or without proper shade, cooling ventilation and air flow. Dogs have a low tolerance to high temperatures, and the inside of a vehicle can quickly climb to life-threatening temperatures in minutes.
Boost H2O Consumption
Some dogs tend to stop eating or even drinking on the early legs of a trip, so try to eliminate variables as much as possible when traveling. Bring several gallons of water along from home or use bottled water for a consistent water source. A change in water source, especially going from hard to soft water, can upset your dog’s GI system, increasing his or her risk of diarrhea and potentially causing dehydration and overheating. On the road, you can encourage your dog to drink by soaking his or her food with water to create a light soup, giving ice cubes after exercise, and baiting water with low-sodium chicken broth. You can also keep a frozen water bottle in your dog’s crate so he or she can lick the condensation to stay cool and hydrated between stops.
Brake for Rest Areas
Map out rest areas along your route that are situated away from traffic and suitable for dog airing. Some Cabela’s locations even have a reserved area for dogs. Plan to stop every couple of hours to air and exercise your dog on a leash, and know that puppies may need more frequent breaks. Offer water and a small treat, but wait to feed your dog until after you’ve stopped traveling for the day.
Mind Your P’s & Q’s
Basic obedience is important at all times, but especially during travel. Avoid accidents, such as your dog being hit by a car or getting into toxic substances like diesel fuel, while stopped by training your dog to “stay” when you open the vehicle door or dog box. It’s also a good idea to keep your dog on lead in busy areas. If you find a safe, remote area to air your dog off lead, make sure you can stay in control of your dog and clean up any mess.
Boost Your Dog’s Immunity with FortiFlora
Traveling can cause stress that can affect a dog’s immune system. To help support your dog’s immune system health, keep a supply of Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets FortiFlora
canine probiotic supplement handy. Prescribed by veterinarians, FortiFlora contains a special strain of probiotic that works to restore normal intestinal microflora. After consulting with your veterinarian, consider starting FortiFlora a few days before leaving on a trip to increase levels of beneficial bacteria and promote a strong immune system, and continue administering it a few days after arriving at your destination.