Travelling with your Dog
Now that summer is well and truly here, you might be planning trips to the country or seaside on those hot summer days. Or you may be planning a longer trip for your summer holidays. If you are like me, most of these outings or holidays will include your four-legged friend.
If you are planning to take your dog, or even cat, on trips, you should really make some preparations for his comfort, well in advance of starting the journey. Remember that a long journey can have quite an effect on your pet. Your pet will travel better if he does not have a full stomach; so only give a light meal about two hours before you start off on your journey. Make sure your pet has a chance to do the toilet before getting in to the car. If you are going on a long journey stop off every so often to let your pet relieve himself
It is advisable to have a suitably sized secure container, or dog guard so that your pet is confined to one area of the car, and is kept safe in case of severe braking. For those of you who decide to have your pet loose in the car, please make sure he does not travel in the front seat, or cannot escape through any window left open for ventilation. Use of a window guard is recommended for safety purposes. This allows ventilation, but stops the animal from sticking his head out, or passers by sticking their hand in to the car.
Please remember that cars can become extremely hot, especially when parked in direct sunlight or high temperatures. Even if you park in the shade, you should be aware that the position of the sun changes. What may have been in shade at 10.00 o’clock could be in full sun by 11.00 o’clock. The interior of your car can very quickly reach temperatures of 49o C, causing any animal to become overheated and suffer from heat stroke.
Dogs lose heat mainly by panting and salivating. This causes them to lose great amounts of fluid and become dehydrated very quickly. You must make sure there is always plenty of fresh clean water available, and that your pet is not left in a hot car
Signs of heat stroke in dogs
* The first signs are increased panting, with whining or barking. The dog will often look agitated.
* Then excessive salivation may occur, often with drooling and strands of saliva hanging from the mouth.
* Extreme panting and dark coloured gums will follow. The dog will have glassy eyes and a look of stupor.
* Once body temperature is raised to the extreme, seizures can occur, with coma and death following.
If your dog becomes overheated, immediately remove him to a cool shaded area. Provide water to drink, and shower, or bathe him with cool water. Call the vet as soon as possible if there is not a quick response to cooling.
If your pet has to travel in the car for any length of time it is a good idea to provide him with a cooling mat. The mat is a great product, designed to help your pet stay cool in any indoor or outdoor hot environment. It contains absorbent crystals in the interior, which you simply soak in water. The crystals absorb up to 1,000 times their own weight in water and provide cooling relief for 4-7 days. When the water eventually evaporates, you just re-soak and use again. It provides a comfortable cool bed for your dog to lie on in hot summer weather.
There is also a dog cooling bandanna that works on the same principle. With absorbent crystals soaked in water and placed loosely around your dog’s neck to keep him cool.
For dogs or cats that don’t travel well, because they are apprehensive of the car, you can use Scullcap and Valerian tablets to relieve anxiety and relax your pet. These should be administered 12 hours before the journey to take the edge off the animal’s anxiety without making him drowsy. They also help to reduce excessive salivation during the journey.
Digestive, or gastric tablets can be given to pets that are travel sick due to the motion and movement of the vehicle.
For animals that become agitated or bark constantly throughout the journey, you could try putting them into a travel cage covered with a towel or blanket. Being in a darkened environment, and removing any visual stimulation can sometimes be enough to help keep them calm.
Pets travelling abroad
For those of you who want to take your pet abroad on holiday from the UK, there is now the Pet Travel Scheme, (PETS) which allows you to bring your pet back in to the UK, from qualifying countries, without spending 6 months in quarantine. Animals must meet the PETS rules before they can enter, or re-enter the UK. The procedures must be carried out in a particular order.
1. First you must have your pet microchipped so that it can be identified.
2. Once the microchip has been fitted, your pet must be vaccinated against rabies
3. After your pet has been vaccinated, it must be blood tested to make sure the vaccine has given satisfactory protection against rabies
4. Once these steps have been successfully completed, you can get an official PETS certificate from a government-authorised vet.
5. Before re-entering the UK, your pet must be treated against ticks and worms. This must be done 24-48 hours before check-in for journey back to UK. Any qualified vet can carry out the treatment. The vet must issue an official certificate of treatment.
6. You will have to sign a declaration that your animal has not been outside any of the PETS qualifying countries in the six months before it enters the UK
7. Your pet must enter Britain from a PETS country by an authorised route.
Certain PETS countries have additional requirements. There is also a new European regulation on the movement of pet animals. Implementation of the EU regulation may come into force on the 1st October 2004. I suggest you call the DEFRA PETS helpline on +44 (0) 870 241 1710, or see their website www.defra.gov.uk for further information and updates on new regulations before you travel.
The website gives useful information and advice for owners on the welfare of animals during journeys by air, rail and ferry.
It is also a good idea to keep a pet first aid kit in the car in case of those accidents, which can to sometimes happen when you are away from home.
Now you are armed with all this advice and information, please keep your pets healthy and happy, and enjoy the long hot summer.