Saturday, October 3, 2009
Imagine sitting in a car on a warm day. The window is rolled down slightly and cool water is in easy reach.
You have been waiting for your driver to return for mere minutes. You believe all is well … yet you feel more uncomfortable as each second passes. It's as if a thick blanket is coming closer to your face. It's becoming harder to breathe the still and stagnant air.
People who travel with pets usually are not aware of how suffocating a vehicle can become after the engine is shut down … even on days that are not particularly warm. You most likely would be as surprised as I was when I experienced these conditions for myself. I found the situation unbearable in minutes, even without the added burden of the fur coat that my pet wears.
It was not a lack of caring, but lack of knowledge, that led to the sad, true story of a family that drove to Disneyland with their new pet. They were confident that it would be safe to leave their adorable German Shepherd puppy in the car with plenty of water and the windows slightly rolled down. When they came back in over an hour, they were horrified to find that their beloved puppy had died.
Each year, countless animals suffer or die from heatstroke. Sitting in a hot car is the most common way pets experience heatstroke. Temperatures in a parked car can quickly rise to above 100 degrees. Unlike humans, dogs do not cool off through perspiration; their panting mechanism does little to overcome excessive heat conditions.
Labored breathing, warm dry skin, anxious behavior and salivation are early symptoms of heatstroke. In a progressed situation, the animal has a glazed look and is unresponsive to stimulation. The tongue and gums become bright red and the animal’s heartbeat increases.
Should you discover an animal suffering from heatstroke, you can provide immediate emergency care. If possible, place him (or her) in a bathtub of cool, not cold, water. As an alternative, the animal can be hosed down or wrapped in cool damp towels. If the pet is responsive, water should be offered to drink. Once cooled down, he should be taken to the nearest vet; intravenous fluid therapy is generally required.
It might be wise to leave your pet at home with a trusted friend or at a kennel, particularly if your dog jumps on people, barks at strange sounds or doesn’t obey commands. However, if you do bring your pet on your vacation, advance planning is necessary when traveling by motor home or by car.
Your pet must be current on all vaccinations, including Rabies. You can get proof of vaccinations from your vet who can also give added information about the requirements for traveling to your particular destination.
A collar and leash with identification tags is necessary. Tags should have addresses and phone numbers of a friend near home and your veterinarian. A second collar with an additional set of information is a good idea in case the original is lost. You should also carry a current photo of your dog should he get lost.
Make sure you have an adequate supply of medication that your pet may be taking and bring along a copy of the prescription. Keep in mind it is probably easier to purchase your pet’s food before you start traveling, particularly if he is on a prescription diet.
A well-ventilated travel crate could also come in handy at some point in the vacation. It’s also important to keep your dog leashed when outdoors. He will be tempted to explore new surroundings and, depending on the area, he could be exposed to fleas and ticks, insect stings or even snakebite.
You will find that some motels and campsites welcome pets; many more do not. Those that do make room for pets have limited space and are often booked. Make reservations early and check your local Automobile Association for current listings of accommodations that accept pets.
Most importantly, remember that it is never cool to travel with a hot dog.
Copyright by Penenlope Puddlisms