If you’re going to be road-tripping (or even heading out for a fun day in the sun) with your pet this summer, don’t forget your dog-specific travel supplies! We’ve compiled a list of the 8 most important items to ensure you both make the most of your day(s) off without any hassles or health trip-ups!
Make sure you bring along:
- Travel dog bowls and clean water: Don’t let your dog drink out of city puddles, or mountain-fresh streams and rivers. The same Giardia parasite you’re avoiding by not drinking out of streams and rivers could also infect your dog, along with a whole other host of worms and parasitic nastiness that you really don’t want to get involved with! Leptospirosis is a deadly disease that is easily picked up by dogs when they sniff or drink out of puddles or still water that has been contaminated by leptospirosis-infected urine (often carried by rodents, raccoons, skunks, etc). Vets see a lot of cases of leptospirosis in late summer and fall, particularly in places where it rains heavily. Scarily, not all dogs infected with this bacteria show any symptoms, yet if left untreated, it can eventually cause kidney failure and death. Prevent water-borne diseases and parasites in your pets by carrying your own water, so they won’t be tempted to drink out of mud puddles! Collapsible/foldable dog bowls or refillable doggy water bottles are easy to find, and quick and simple to pack along on any trip, from your daily neighborhood walk (critical in the summer heat) to car rides to longer hikes and travels.
- Food: Depending on how long you’ll be gone, your dog will need to replenish his energy stores, just as you do! And if you’re packing a picnic or BBQ supplies at the beach, don’t leave Fido hanging out hungry. Ensuring you’ve got food along just for him will stave off the temptation to let him share your feast (which could lead to tummy troubles later)!
- Travel Wipes: For muddy trails, river crossings, and whatever other kinds of “gunk” your dog gets into, it will make the car ride home a much more pleasant experience if you clean off your dog’s muddy paws with earthbath travel wipes, made just for situations like these!
- Dog Cooling Bandannas or Wraps: If it’s very hot, or if you plan to walk or hike several miles, make sure your dog doesn’t get overheated. If you’re hiking, you can all go for a swim in the lake or streams (but watch that he doesn’t ingest the water!), or else, for a safer and more reliable approach, you can use one of the specially made wraps or bandannas that you soak in cool water, or even place in the fridge or cooler for an intensified chiller-effect, that expand, allowing the water-filled material to evaporate through the layers as airflow moves over it.
- Flea, tick and mosquito protection: Summer is insect season, and if you’re heading out into the great outdoors, you’ll want to be sure and protect your pet from fleas, ticks, mosquitos, flies, and other biting insects. Check with your vet for the best product(s) for your pet’s special needs.
- Sunscreen: A lot of people don’t think about it, but if your dog is short-haired, light-colored, or shaved, he is just as susceptible to painful sunburn and skin cancer as you are. That means as you slather yourself up with sunscreen, so should you slather your dog. In addition, even if your pet isn’t white or particularly short-haired, the tip of the nose, especially if it’s pale or white, is prone to sun-induced tumors, as are the tips of the ears (or any area which is sparsely covered in hair and the skin is thin). There are specific sunscreens designed for pets, but sensitive skin or baby sunscreens can be used as well. However, be careful with the sunscreen you use on your dog, because some ingredients can be toxic if they are licked off. Zinc oxide should never be used because dogs can become dangerously anemic if it is ingested.
- Dog Pack or Saddle Bag: If your dog is going to be hiking along with you, depending on how far you’re going, he might as well carry his own weight! A travel bag specially made to be worn comfortably by your dog makes hiking and especially, backpacking, much easier on you, if he can carry his own food, water, treats, medications, dog bowls, wipes, and anything else he (or you) might need.
- Watch for signs of overheating and heat exhaustion: Though not a material “item,” the best thing to bring along on any summertime adventure with your pet is constant vigilant awareness to your pet’s comfort level and state of energy. Remember, dogs only have their tongues to cool off, and an inexhaustible desire to “keep up” with you and please you. This means, unfortunately, that your dog will likely drive itself to complete exhaustion rather than prevent you from continuing your run/hike/walk/etc. So, it’s up to you to stop your dog before he gets to that unfortunate point.
If panting isn’t enough to reduce their rising body temperature, the dog is in danger of developing heat stroke. Early signs of heat exhaustion include rapid breathing, heavy panting, and thick, ropy salivation. Other signs are fatigue, muscle tremors, and staggering/confusion. If you think your dog may be suffering from heat exhaustion, take him to a cool, shady place, and apply wet towels or cloths to help cool the dog’s body down. Don’t let the dog rapidly gulp water, as this can create shock in its body and make it even sicker. Give the dog small amounts of water, and immediately call a vet.
- Finally, if it’s too hot for you, it’s WAY too hot for your dog. Wait until it cools off before you do anything active.