Summer is officially here, and we all know what that means. Outdoor fun, vacations, new adventures, and trying to stay cool when the temperatures are high. Pets, especially dogs, are a big part of our families and we like to include them in our lives as much as possible. Sporting events, trips to a lake or river, beach vacations, and hiking are just a few adventures we as pet owners like to share with our four legged friends. But, what should we do to prepare? Or, if Fido can’t come along, do we board him at a facility or hire a pet sitter?
It’s harder for pets to stay hydrated during the hot weather months, and adequate shade and water is a must, not just for the dogs but the owners too! If you’re bringing your dog to any event or activity, always bring extra water and a bowl. You can find collapsible travel bowls at any pet supply store, and they usually run from $5-$15 for a decent quality water bowl. If you notice your dog getting a little too hot, find some shade for you to both hang out and relax, and avoid hot cement whenever possible. When in doubt, you can try walking on the cement without any shoes. Does the concrete burn your feet, or is it just warm? Testing out the cement and using your own discretion can save your dog from a painful walk in the park.
Anytime you travel with your dog, be sure to bring all the necessities. This list includes toys, food, treats (you always want to reward good behavior in a new place), any medications they may need, and at least a favorite blanket to sleep on. A good fitting harness could be a wise purchase when planning a trip with your dog. New places, highway rest areas, hotels where doors may slam, and all the new smells encountered while on vacation may overwhelm your pet. Collars are good, but easy for frightened dogs to slip out of in the heat of the moment. A good harness has sturdy buckles or clips, fits snug on your dog while still allowing for comfort, and has a sturdy place to clip your leash. Never use retractable leads while out in a new area. Be sure to have a sturdy lead of the right size and length for your dog, while also checking the clip for any weakness or fault.
Car safety is another big point. Make sure you and your dog are safe in the vehicle. If Fido likes to roam the car, this can create a road hazard for you and other drivers on the road. Backseat slings, safety harnesses, travel crates, and barriers are all excellent products designed to keep you and your dog safe on the road. Backseat slings are designed to keep your seat clean, while also providing a soft barrier to prevent your dog from jumping into the front of your vehicle. These are light, and also protect your seat from hair and dirt. Safety harnesses are designed to fit your dog and some of the better brands have a seatbelt clip. There are also straps available that can clip on to your existing harness and attach to the existing seatbelt in your vehicle. These are usually cheaper, but you have to provide your own harness. Travel crates are those big plastic crates you see in airports. They are big and bulky, and don’t fit in every vehicle, depending on the size needed for your dog. These may be a good option for owners with multiple dogs and a larger vehicle, because it prevents the possibility of tired, grouchy dogs having a disagreement. Do not put occupied travel crates in the bed of a truck. There is a dangerous risk to your dog due to flying debris, or the unfortunate possibility of an accident. If your dog roams, but any other options just aren’t for you, there are barriers available. These range in design and price, from mesh designs meant for use in a car, to metal bar designs meant for use in a crossover or SUV. They keep your dog secluded to one area of the vehicle, and prevent roaming. When making a choice, decide what’s best for you, your dog, and your car before purchasing, and try it out a few times before hopping in the car for a long road trip. That way, everyone has had time to adjust and work out the kinks of a new travel system.
If you are traveling to a destination and can’t bring your dog along, there are a few care options available in most areas. First, the most common care option is boarding your pet at a veterinarian’s office or a professional kennel. These places keep your dog in a large kennel, with walks a few times per day. The second option available is a “kennel free” care facility. These are places that normally also offer doggie daycare and they usually do not accept cats. The dogs are let out in a supervised common area during the day, and are kenneled at closing time. This is a great idea for friendly dogs, but if your dog isn’t fond of strange dogs or does not tolerate mildly rude behavior from other dogs, this may not be a good fit. The last option is professional pet sitting. The services may range from daily walks and care, to a worker staying at your home with your pet. This is a better option for older pets, or dogs with anxiety issues regarding kennels or other dogs. Choosing the best place for you and your pet can be difficult but making phone calls, bringing your dog along for a tour of the facility, and interviewing caretakers helps make the decision process smoother- plus you can have some peace of mind knowing your dog will be in good hands after getting to know the caretakers, regardless of what option you choose.
Traveling with your pet can be stressful at times, but preparing in advance and having a plan lined out can help ease your mind. Stay safe this summer and happy traveling!