Are you planning to take Fido along on a trip this summer? A lot of people choose to do that rather than leaving the family pet behind. Here are some tips to help ease the stress of traveling with your pet.
1. Get your pet geared up for a long trip by taking him on a series of short drives first, gradually lengthening time spent in the car.
2. Create a pet kit. Keep all your pet's essentials in one place. Include chew toys or a favorite toy to keep him busy, grooming supplies, medications, a waste scoop, plastic bags, a favorite blanket or pillow, and a full supply of food. Pack a pet first-aid kit, vaccination records, your vet’s number in case of an emergency, and a list of pet clinics on your route. Not a bad idea to include Benadryl in case your curious pet checks out a beehive or something. The iPhone app MyPetED electronically stores all your pet’s documents for easy retrieval on the go, so you don't have to carry a lot of paperwork.
3. Plan your pet's travel-feeding schedule. Start with a light meal three to four hours prior to departure. Don't feed your furry friend in a moving vehicle—even if it is a long drive.
4. Bring your own water. Opt for bottled water or tap water stored in plastic jugs. Drinking water from an area he's not used to could result in tummy upset for your pet.
5. Make sure your pet has sufficient identification. Be sure he is a microchipped and wears a collar with a tag imprinted with your home address, as well as a temporary travel tag with your cell phone, destination phone number and any other relevant contact information.
6. Check in advance that your destinations are pet-friendly. If you are beach bound, check restrictions and inquire whether the surf is safe for dogs. Invest in a doggie life vest. If you are in the ocean, beware of jellyfish and stingrays. If hiking is on the itinerary, keep your pooch on a short leash to avoid encounters with skunks, snakes, and painful burrs or foxtail.
Some hotels will cater to your pal with pet treats, comfy beds, free dog-sitting, grooming sessions and even canine massages. Other hotels restrict pets over a certain size or don’t permit them to be left alone in the room. Ask whether your hotel requires a deposit for pets or if you will be required to pay a non-refundable fee.
Many campgrounds are dog friendly, but don’t assume every pup in camp has good manners. Follow campground etiquette and keep your pet leashed, pick up after him, and don’t let him bark after dark. RV campgrounds often welcome pets, but some may restrict size to 10 pounds or less.
7. Keep your pets safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. There are a variety of wire mesh, hard plastic and soft-sided carriers available. Whatever you choose, make sure it's large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. Iit's smart to get your pet used to the carrier in the comfort of your home before your trip. And please be sure to always secure the crate so it won't slide or shift in the event of a quick stop.
8. Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace in no time, and heatstroke can develop. In cold weather, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
9. Break often for relief and exercise. Your GPS can locate parks and rest areas along the way where you can stop every couple hours for fun and potty breaks.
10. Take your pet on a cruise! Check out this link for some fun information on including your pet on a cruise with you. http://www.iglucruise.com/blog/2013/05/24/is-it-time-to-treat-your-pet-to-a-cruise
The Golden Rule: Expect the unexpected when traveling with your pet, and pack accordingly. Always bring more water than you could ever need. Never take it for granted that the next town is there.
A kind viewer of our website added the following tip:
"I always have a sheet that I keep in my wallet and a copy in the glove box that explains that should we be in an accident and not able to give instructions or care for our pets what we would like to be done. I explain that we have pet insurance and we would like for them to receive whatever life saving care they may need. If they are not injured we beg of one of the responders to hold on to them and call the name and phone number listed on our instructions to pick them up. etc. Whatever your wishes are I think should be carried with you in writing."
Sources: www.tailsinc.com/2013/06/have-wheels-will-travel ; www.iglucruise.com/blog/2013/05/24/is-it-time-to-treat-your-pet-to-a-cruise ; www.aspca.org/pet-care/pet-care-tips/car-travel-tips.aspx
Healthy oral hygiene is important for our pet for multiple reasons. Clean teeth are not only cosmetically pleasing; they also promote good smelling breath and better long-term health.
If poor oral health causes an infection in our pet’s teeth or gums, it can spread to their kidneys. This is especially true in cats. Older cats often suffer from kidney failure, which can be caused by an oral infection spreading to kidneys. Valvular heart disease can also be caused by poor dental hygiene. Bacteria from a pet’s mouth can travel to its heart valves, causing them to change shape and become leaky.
Original article by Marybeth Bittel, Tails Magazine
When I was a young music student growing up in Chicago’s western suburbs, my family adopted an Airedale puppy we named Beethoven. I picked Beethoven out at the shelter because all the other puppies rushed forward to greet me, while he hid shyly in the corner. Most trainers agree that’s not necessarily the ideal benchmark for selecting a furry friend, but we got lucky. Beethoven matured into an outgoing, even-tempered, fun, and affectionate family member who sternly guarded our front yard one minute, and romped through our sprinkler the next.
But then came the Fourth of July. Fireworks went off at random intervals around the clock. We discovered that when it came to loud noises and ear-popping explosions, Beethoven was absolutely terrified.
At first we wondered how this could have happened. After all, we’d never left our beloved boy outside while pyrotechnics peppered the sky. He hadn’t been exposed to extreme noises as a puppy. In all likelihood, Beethoven’s fireworks aversion, like so many pet fears and phobias, was just one of those things that took hold when his sensitive hearing encountered a sudden trigger he could neither see nor anticipate.
So we did what numerous pet parents do when their cherished companion is struggling: we cuddled him, coddled him, and cooed comforting words of reassurance. We also sat, feeling helpless, watching him cower and hide as the problem held steady each year. In fact, through all the years of Beethoven’s life, he never overcame this disabling sense of distress, no matter how soothing or supportive we attempted to make his surrounding environment.
When my husband and I began working with abused rescue dogs, we noticed that most arrived with an array of deep-rooted anxieties acquired over time. One Bichon was terrified of rotary fans. A Shih Tzu mix became a jittery mess during thunderstorms. A sweet and docile Foxhound routinely hid from houseplants. These fears ran the gamut, but they had one thing in common: They were exceedingly real to the dog, and they had a great impacts on the entire family.
We began working with local animal behaviorists, and that’s when we learned an invaluable truth: The way we, as caregivers, react to our pet’s anxieties can actually perpetuate the patterns.
Why would this be? As Abe Mashal, owner of Marine Corps Dog Training in St. Charles, explains, “Dogs form extremely solid bonds with their humans. That means most canines are highly attuned to any type of interaction with their human ‘pack’ members.” So when something a dog is doing earns our attention—whether that attention takes the form of praise, pampering, or peevish irritation— the behavior is often unintentionally reinforced.
“Reinforcement,” a common term in the world of animal behavioral training, is really just another word for strengthening. In reality, a reinforcer can be anything that strengthens a behavior.
So for those of you thinking, “I never reinforce my dog’s non-stop barking! I scold her on the spot,” see if these examples sound familiar:
“Every interaction with your dog has the potential to teach and reinforce, merely because you’re paying attention,” explains Sara Swan, owner of Narnia Pet Behavior & Training in Plainfield. How can you tell if this is happening? Simply observe over time. Dogs continue to engage in behaviors that provide some sort of payoff. If you’re dealing with a fear or anxiety response that’s ongoing—such as Beethoven’s abhorrence of fireworks—some kind of inducement is likely contributing to the pattern. In Beethoven’s case, his reactions earned him almost round-the-clock nurturing.
Fortunately, we as dog parents can leverage these same dynamics when it comes to re-programming undesirable behaviors. Let’s say your 80-pound “lap dog” excitedly jumps on you whenever you come home from work. When you withhold the coveted attention—immediately going back out the door, or turning your back on him—many pups gradually begin to seek out a different behavior.
The same thing can work with a fear response. If your pet is terrified of your Swiffer mop, for example, try propping it against the family room couch and just leaving it there. Then, simply act like it’s no big deal and go about your daily routine, even if your pup exhibits an unsettled reaction. Very gradually, over time, as your furry friend begins to approach the mop with quiet but tentative curiosity, reward that calm behavior with brief praise or a small treat. Keep it up, and eventually your dog can learn that “mop = calm = good.”
Helping your dog manage his stress is one of the keys to having a happy and healthy pet. If your animal companion has specific challenges beyond what you’re comfortable handling, always reach out to a certified animal behaviorist who can help you develop targeted interventional techniques that will work on your pet’s unique needs. It will not only help with unwanted behaviors, but strengthen your bond, as well.
Safe, Drug Free Ways To Soothe Your Pet’s Stress
The Thundershirt. The ThunderShirt leverages the age-old principle of swaddling an infant to promote calming reassurance. Simply fasten this snug, stretchy shirt around your pet’s ribcage. During anxious episodes of panting or hyperventilation, it provides ongoing sensory feedback that suppresses this common panic response. ( Thundershirt.com )
Music or ASMR. As a musician, I can attest firsthand that deep, resonant tones often work wonders on a nervous pup. You can also try leveraging something called ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), which is promoted by many hypnotists and human sleep therapists. ASMR is a subjective, perceptual phenomenon characterized by a distinct calming or scalp- tingling sensation in response to quiet, seemingly mundane sound triggers. Certain pets appear especially receptive, and may even be lulled to sleep. To gauge effectiveness, try playing low, calming music or ASMR audio with your dog in the room. Use a meditation CD, or visit YouTube to access ASMR recordings by reputable “ASMRtists” such as The Waterwhispers.
Calming Sprays. Help create a relaxing environment for your pet by using a calming spray on their bedding or by plugging in a calming spray diffuser. Many cats and dogs experience reduced anxiety and stress after being exposed to these non- sedating sprays, which use soothing scents such as lemongrass, cinnamon, and lavender to encourage relaxation.