Many of us who travel to national parks, campgrounds, the
wilderness and other outdoor recreational locations take our dogs
along. Are you among them? To make the most of adventurous family
outings, we need to know the do's and don'ts of traveling in nature.
It is a good idea to do some preliminary training at home.
Go for daily walks and gradually build endurance. Increase duration
and intensity, continually assessing your dog's abilities. It is
also good to anticipate the type of activity you will be doing and
to achieve the needed level of fitness. Make a trip to the vet and
get a physical exam and clear bill of health for your dog.
Prior to your departure, make certain you pack the
necessary items for the activities you plan to do with your dog.
Plenty of water, sufficient food and first aid, and life preservers
for water activities are a must. Doggie backpacks are available so
that your dog can share the burden of carrying the supplies.
Avoid extreme activities during hot days as well as prolonged exposure to the sun. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are common health problems. As I mentioned in a previous column, dogs do not sweat and therefore have limited defenses from heat. Depending on where you go, there are many dangers out there.
Fleas and ticks are everywhere. Making sure your pet is
protected from the pests is a must. Consider Lyme disease
vaccination and verify that Rabies and Parvo/Distemper vaccinations
are current. Of course, all dogs should be treated with Heartworm
and intestinal parasite medications.
Be on the lookout for poisonous bugs and snakes, and keep
your dog in site at all times. Dogs are very curious. Encounters
with aggressive wildlife such as badgers, porcupines and skunks are
common. Check your dog periodically for injuries such as swellings,
bleeding punctures and lameness.
Ingestion of poisonous plants or poison ivy exposure, along
with man-maid substances (insecticides, gasoline, alcohol etc.), are
common outdoor hazards. Make a note that grapes, wild or cultivated,
may also be toxic to your dog if ingested.
Sharp objects (rocks, nails, cans and broken bottles) and
plants (tree branches, twigs, foxtail and cacti) are frequent
causes of injuries. It is important to brush and inspect the feet as
well as the head area (mouth, ears and nose) frequently.
Accidents do happen. Falling down a mountain, getting hit
by falling rocks and debris and drowning are only a few of the many
If you notice embedded thorns, spines, foxtail, porcupine
quills or other objects, remove them and disinfect the wound. If the
object cannot be removed, go to the nearest veterinarian. Ice- pack
insect bites, snake bites, bruises and blunt injuries. Be sure to
clean and disinfect open wounds. Snakebites are major emergencies.
Your dog should be rushed to the vet ASAP. Severe injuries, such as
massive trauma from falls or large objects, as well as broken body
parts, should be stabilized and medical attention sought as soon as
Finally, in the event your canine pal comes back from the
bushes wearing skunk "perfume" (you will know...), wash the animal
with skunk-off, tomato juice or diluted vinegar multiple times, then
Your pet travel pack should have a major and a minor kit.
The major kit stays in the base camp or the car and the minor kit
goes with you on the trail or any other recreational activity. Both
containers should be compact, temperature resistant and water proof.
The major pack contains all the items your pet needs:
food and treats in sealed packaging.
Extra leash and collar
and Rabies tags if your pet is not microchipped
Blankets and towels
Brushes and combs
Your pet's records
Local veterinarian and emergency clinic addresses and phone numbers
Flea and tick control and any other medication your pet takes
The minor kit includes:
Carry-on water bottle
Food/treats (as needed)
Survival kits (as needed)
First aid kit containing:
Now you are ready to travel safely with your pet. Being
prepared for medical emergencies and the other predicaments your pet
can get into while you're on the road can make the difference
between a good time and panic time.