Feline good for the dog days of summer!
We have all been waiting…. And it’s finally here!! Nice warm summer weather. With summer weather comes traveling and fun road trips. Traveling with pets has become more and more common.
Here are some tips and ticks to keep your furry friends safe while having fun traveling on your summer adventures.
Step 1: Familiarize your pets with riding in a vehicle
The movement of a vehicle is not 2nd nature to some pets. The movement of a car can be stressful and confusing. Here are some tips to make it more comfortable.
1. Exercise Pets Before Drives – Even a 15-minute walk before travel can reduce the stress response and create a more calming state of mind for learning or experiencing new things. They can also get all their “business” out of the way so they can focus. For cats you can have them chase a toy or short walk in the yard on a harness with a leash.
2. Bring Familiar Toys or Blankets – A pet’s home is their safe place. Having something that smells like home will help them feel more comfortable.
3. Begin with Short Drives – Before traveling for long distances, it can be beneficial to travel very short distances to begin with. To start, you could drive around the block and come home. Then once comfortable with that, you can drive around town for a bit. Extend the amount of time each drive and adjust according to how your pet is responding. Sign of anxiety can be panting, pacing, whining, and barking. We have some products that can help with anxiety at our vet clinic for cats and for dogs. Give us a call and we can suggest which one would best suit your pet.
4. Play Light Music – Just as playing music in your home can create a nice calm atmosphere, it can also have the same effect on your pet in the car. Even having your own mental state of mind calm, your pet can sense that, and it will help them relax.
5. Praise your Pet – Lots of verbal praise while traveling is great. If you have a passenger, they can pet and scratch to have some physical contact. Try to avoid praising with treats as this can cause stomach upset and nobody wants to be cleaning that up on the side of the road. Once you are home, you can offer a treat reward that is special to car rides. So they know “If I go in the car, I get something REAL good” Remember that distracted driving is dangerous, so always stay focused on the road.
Step 2: Treat Pets Like Passengers
1. Engage Child Locks on Doors and Windows - just like children, pets can push those buttons just as easily. Suddenly Fido has unlocked the doors AND is rolling the windows down all the way…. And you are scrambling to try and correct the situation.
2. No sticking heads out the window – I know…. Booooo. Why would we say that? There can be debris that flies around not always seen by the naked eye. Have you ever ridden on a motor bike? Those bugs that smack you in the face hurt! A bug, rock, dirt, etc… in the eye can cause a lot of damage. Not fun for our furry friends.
3. Don’t let pets sit in your lap – It’s illegal. Distracted driving is a fineable offence. If Fido the dog or Fluffy the cat is sitting in your lap, it will cost you $300 fine and 3 demerit points in Alberta.
4. Avoid the front seat – It’s just to easy for them to hop over on your lap and distract you. Back seat is the safest option.
5. Don’t Keep Pets In Pickup Beds – We don’t recommend letting pets travel in the bed of a truck that is open. There is no safe way to secure them, and the bed can heat up to dangerous levels in the summer. But if you have no other option here is some information from the Alberta SPCA: According to the SPCA Alberta website, Animal Protection Act regulations state, when transporting animals in the back of a pickup, the box of a truck must be high enough and strong enough to keep the animal contained and protected at all times. The animal must also be protected from the elements, including injurious heat or cold. For more information, please check out their website at https://www.albertaspca.org/animal-care/companion-animals/dogs/dogs-pickup trucks/#:~:text=Animal%20Protection%20Act%20regulations%20state,including%20injurious%20heat%20or%20cold.
6. Plan Pit Stops and Breaks – Just like their hoomans, pets need breaks too. Plan to stop every 2 hours for a drink of water, a potty break, and to exercise a little bit. You can offer some treats or feed them a half meal if it’s time. Try to avoid feeding them while the car is in motion. This can cause an upset tummy. And nobody wants to clean that up on the side of the road.
7. Do not leave pets in an unattended vehicle – According to the Alberta SPCA website: Dogs have limited ability to sweat so the effects of a warm vehicle are exacerbated for our canine friends. This means a dog can overheat and go into medical distress quickly. A warm vehicle creates a potentially lethal environment in a very short period of time.
For more information, please visit their website at https://www.albertaspca.org/animal-protection/common-animal-distress-complaints/dog-hotcar/#:~:text=Dogs%20have%20limited%20ability%20to,very%20short%20period%20of%20time
Step 3: Consider Pet Safe Restraints
Just as distracted driving is very dangerous, having an animal wandering around the back of your vehicle can also be very dangerous. A lose cat can get under your feet or get stuck under a seat and start screaming for help. A lose dog can scavenge the back in the grocery bag and help themselves to some treats that may or may not be for them.
1. Harnesses and Restraints – We have seen a variety of options from big dogs to small dogs. Small dogs have a cute little bed that can be buckled in and it hangs from the head rest so they can see our the window. Big dogs have a harness that can be buckled into the sea belt receiver just like their hoomans.
2. Barriers – Barriers can be installed in the back of a vehicle to prevent the dog from accessing the front. We have seen mesh ones as well as metal bars, depending on what style car you have.
3. Pet carriers or crates – This is also a great option for keeping your furry friend safe while driving.
What to bring?
Keeping a folder of important information will be very helpful if faced with having to take your pet to a vet clinic while traveling.
Here is some information they may need:
1. Microchip Information
2. Vaccination Records
3. Health Record – Your pets health record can be emailed to you, and you can print it out to have the information available if needed.
4. A list of medications that your pet is taking; include name, mg strength, and current dosing.
5. It’s also a good idea to research ahead of time and google veterinary clinics along your route. Include phone numbers and addresses. That way in an emergency, you will not have to struggle to find information or rely on your cell service that may or may not be working well.
Some other things to consider taking:
1. Dewormer, tick and flea prevention. Depending on where you are traveling to, it may be recommended to protect against ticks, fleas, and maybe heartworm. Give us a phone call and we can discuss what products we would recommend for your traveling adventures.
2. Pet first aid kit. Check out this website for some ideas: https://www.aspcapro.org/resource/how-make-pet-first-aid-kit
3. Temporary information tags – if you are staying at a relative’s house for a couple weeks you could get their address and phone number on the tags.
4. Pack water – a travel dish for water is also a great idea for convenience.
5. Pack treats and food.
6. Pack a couple potty pads or towels. They come in handy if you have an accident on a blanket, it’s a quick change out. (Maybe even a garbage bag to put the soiled laundry in)
7. Litter and litter box for cats.
8. Poop bags for dogs.
We hope all the memories you make this summer traveling with your family, friends, and furry creatures are happy and healthy. Be sure to take a picture and share it with us along your travels. You never know when you will make an appearance on our website?!?!
Pictures are courtesy of https://www.shutterstock.com/