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Feature Article: October 2002

Get Ready to Hit the Road
by Tara Kain

Summer is over, but that does not necessarily mean that there are no more road trips for the year. Many people will be hitting the road during the holidays, from Thanksgiving through New Years. And many dog lovers will be taking their best friend with them. Whether you have never traveled with your dog before or have traveled thousands of miles with your dog, it is always a good idea to plan ahead. If you forget your toothbrush on a trip, it's pretty easy to get a replacement. However, if you forget your pooch's food bowl or favorite toy, it might be a little tougher to get that replaced. Below are some guidelines that will help you prepare for a dog-friendly road trip and perhaps will help you remember to bring all of the necessities.

A Month Before

• If you don't already have one, get a pet identification tag for your dog. It should have your dog's name, your name (at least your last name) and phone number. Consider using a cell phone number, a home number, and possibly the number of where you will be staying.

• Get a first aid kit for your dog. It comes in very handy if you need to remove any ticks. The kits are usually available at a pet store, a veterinary office or on the Internet.

• If you do not already have a dog harness for riding the car, consider purchasing one for your dog's safety and your safety. A dog harness can keep your pooch from hitting the windshield or from becoming a projectile that could possibly hurt you or others in the car. The harnesses are usually sold at pet stores or on the Internet.

• Make a trip to the vet if necessary for the following:

  - A current rabies vaccination tag for your dog's collar. Also get paperwork with proof of the rabies vaccine. You might need this if you day board your dog.
  - Consider any recommended vaccines. A Lyme disease (from ticks) vaccine might be recommended if you plan on hiking in an area with high rates of Lyme disease, usually in the northeastern United States. A Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccine might be recommended if you plan to day board your pooch or if your dog will be in contact with many other dogs. Check with your vet for any other recommended vaccines. If you do give vaccines to your pooch, try to have the individual shots given instead of the multiple vaccines in one shot, and try to space them about 2-3 months apart.
  - If you are not already doing so, consider placing your dog on a monthly heartworm preventative medicine. Dogs can usually get heartworm from mosquitos in the mountains, rural areas or on hikes.
  - Consider using some type of flea preventative for your dog. This is out of courtesy for the dog-friendly hotels plus for the comfort of your pooch.
  - Make sure your dog is in good health. If you are driving to Canada or Mexico, you will probably also need a recent health certificate.

Several Days Before

• Make sure you have enough dog food for the duration of the trip.

• If your dog is on any medication, remember to bring it along.

• Some dog owners will also purchase bottled water for the trip, because some dogs can get sick from drinking water they are not used to. Talk to your vet for more information.

The Day Before

• Do not forget to review's Etiquette for the Traveling Dog.

• Remember to pack all of your dog's necessities: food, water, dog dishes, leash, snacks and goodies, several favorite toys, brush, towels for dirty paws, plastic bags for cleaning up after your dog, doggie first aid kit, possibly dog booties if you are venturing to an especially cold or hot region, and bring any medicine your dog might be taking.

On The Road

• Before you head out, put on that doggie seat belt harness.

• Keep it cool and well ventilated in the car for your dog.

• Try not to let your dog hang his or her head out the window. While it may look like fun for your dog, particles like dust, bugs, etc., could blow into their face, causing possible damage to the eyes, ears and nose.

Stop at least every 2-3 hours so your dog can relieve him or herself. Also offer him or her water during the stops.

Never leave your pet alone in a parked car - even in the shade with the window cracked open. According to the Los Angeles SPCA, on a hot day, a car can heat up to 160 degrees in minutes, potentially causing your pet (or child) heat stroke, brain damage, and even death.

Emergency Situations

• If you need to find an emergency vet, look in the local yellow pages phone book. They are usually listed under Veterinarians. If it is not obvious which vets are open for emergencies, call one or two local vets for the information. You should even be able to call any vet after regular business hours and get this information. Vets that are open only during the day typically have a recorded message that gives the phone number of a local evening emergency vet.

• If you go for a hike in an unfamiliar or even a familiar area, it is best to keep your dog on a leash. This will help your pet from becoming lost or being bitten by rattlesnakes or wild animals.

To voice your opinion on this article or subject, please fill out our form. We will include some of the comments or letters in next month's Letters to the Editor section.


Tips for Doggie Car Sickness...Did You Know?

Some say ginger can prevent car sickness in dogs. Below are links to websites with more information.

SF German Shep. Rescue
Nevada Humane Society




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