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Keeping Pets Safe On Vacations

Travel with pets - safety tips Many pets, particularly dogs, enjoy a vacation with the family just as much as their humans do. They have new places to explore, new smells to discover, and more relaxation and play-time with their people. Here are a few things to keep in mind to help keep your pets safe while on vacation with the family.

Up-To-Date ID is a Must

Make sure your dogs and cats are always wearing a collar with identification tags, including the municipal license. An additional ID tag with the pet's name and your phone number(s) is also a good idea. A cell phone number is ideal to allow people to reach you wherever you are, but if you don't have a cell number a temporary ID tag with a phone number where you can be reached while on holidays is recommended.

Collars sometimes come off so a backup form of ID is helpful too. Tattoos are often given to pets during spay/neuter surgeries; make sure you write down the tattoo number and the location of the tattoo and keep this information handy. Tattoos are a visible form of ID that shows people that the pet likely has a home. A microchip is another alternate form of ID and can be quickly implanted by your vet. Lost pets who end up in shelters, vet clinics, or rescue organizations can be scanned for a microchip.

No one ever plans to lose their pets; up-to-date identification can help to make sure there's a happen reunion.

Use "Leash-Free" Judiciously

Many of us like to allow our dogs to run leash-free when possible. What could be better than watching our dogs running free and enjoying themselves? Vacations can be a tempting time to give our dogs more off-leash time, since we have more free time to take our pets to parks and trails.

Many times, though, dogs have been lost on holidays because they were distracted by something or gotten spooked, and have taken off running. Being in an unfamiliar area, they don't know how to get back to their families. If your dog tends to be easily distracted or scared by new things, keep him leashed - instead, spend time hiking new parks and trails, or visiting dog-friendly beaches. All the new sights and smells will be exciting and enriching for your dog, even while leashed.

New People, New Dogs, New Places

Some dogs do better than others when dealing with unfamiliar sights and sounds. Dogs who are nervous or uncomfortable around crowds or strangers (whether people or other pets) might do better in smaller accommodations with private entrances, such as a motel room with an exterior room entrance, a cottage, or a vacation rental. There are lots of vacation options for pet owners!

Don't allow pets to approach other guests or pets without a clear sign that it's welcome. Even if your dog is great with strangers, the other person or pet may not be.

Know When It's Enough

It's easy to overdo it in the heat especially when you're outside having a good time on vacation. Many dogs will play or walk as long as they're allowed to, or for as long as their people want to - you might need to be the voice of reason! Make sure your dog rests periodically, and always has cool, fresh drinking water available (you can freeze containers of water to take with you - they'll provide a steady supply of cool water as they melt). A cool, shady area should also be readily available. If need be, you can create your own shade with a large umbrella or even a tarp or blanket strung across a couple of chairs or picnic tables. Watch your dog for signs of heat stroke such a heavy panting, glassy-eyed or vacant look, dark-red tongue, disorientation or weakness. Contact a vet for advice if you think your dog may have heat stroke.

Water Safety

Boating and swimming are two favourite activities while on holidays. Many dogs love them too! Dogs should wear life jackets while boating (not all dogs know how to swim, contrary to popular belief). Watch them closely and keep them securely in the boat since they could injure themselves on the motor, rocks, or the boat itself if they jump out.

Always supervise dogs when they're playing in the water. Don't allow them to swim where there are fast currents or where they may be an under-tow. Know their swimming ability and fitness level and watch them for signs of fatigue or discomfort.

Rinse Dogs After Water-Play

Dogs can pick up all sorts of stuff in their fur when they're playing. Whether they're splashing around in a pool, pond, stream, lake, or ocean, it's a good idea to give them a good rinse afterwards with fresh, clean water. This will help to remove things like chlorine, salt, sand and dirt, and various bits of plants or other debris. Dogs who spend a great deal of time in the water may need to be bathed instead of simply rinsed.

Let them dry off thoroughly afterwards. If possible, a quick brush can help to ensure mats don't form or hot spots to form underneath the mats.

A drying ear rinse should also be used with dogs that spend a lot of time in the water. This will help to prevent ear infections from developing.

Please be sure to get dogs rinsed and dried off before re-entering your accommodation ... most properties don't allow dogs to be bathed using their facilities, and also don't appreciate the 'wet dog' smell!

No Hot Pets!

Too often we hear stories of dogs needing to be rescued from a hot car. All of us have sat in a car in the summer heat ... and the inside of the car can get searing hot, fast, even with the windows open and when parked in the shade. Dogs cannot cool themselves as efficiently as we can; even a few minutes in a hot car can cause severe illness or death.

If your accommodation doesn't allow pets to be left unattended in the guest room, what do you do if you want to go out for dinner, or to visit an attraction? Consider ordering take-out, or have a picnic outside with your dog. As for attractions, there's nothing dogs like more than to be with their people - look for dog-friendly attractions. If your holiday plans are heavily centered around visiting attractions that don't allow pets, it might be best to leave your pet at home with a trusted sitter, boarding facility, or family member.

Hot Paws Alert

The sun can quickly heat up the ground and make it unsafe and downright painful for your dog to walk on - so much so, that it can cause agonizing burns to their paw pads. Asphalt and hot sand are just two common examples of surfaces that can get too hot, fast! Put the back of your hand on the ground and hold it there for 5 seconds: is it too hot for you? Then it's too hot for your dog.

If you must walk when it's hot, keep your dog on the grass. You can also use booties (yes, they look ridiculous but they do protect paws) or apply a special paw wax to help protect them from the heat.

Do the most active stuff, like hiking or walks, early in the morning or later in the evening when it's cooler. Leave the lazing around to the hotter parts of the day if you can.


"Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful."
(Annette Funicello)

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