Pet Patter: ‘Travel & Pets”

Just like us, pets like to explore the world and travel about especially in the warm summer weather. So, the next time you are planning a trip away, why not bring along your pet(s)?

Joilene Sholtes

Any time you travel with a pet you should have a collar and identification tag on the ready for them to wear and if you are planning a trip across borders; up to date vaccinations will be required. Have a recent photograph of your pet. If they do become lost during your trip, a photograph will make it much easier for others to search for and help locate your pet more effectively.

Some pets can get motion sickness. So asking your veterinarian about natural remedies or medications that address this issue may be necessary.

Invest in a durable travel carrier that will fit your pet as your pet grows older. If your pet is not used to a carrier, keeping the carrier out where they can see it and go in and out at their own leisure will help them get used to being inside it and becoming comfortable with it. Place some soft blankets inside and a few small toys so they can view the carrier as a positive experience and a cozy place to rest. Attaching the water tray to the carrier will help to let your pet hydrate without spilling the tray and making the carrier uncomfortable. Always bring extra water with you so your pet can stay hydrated.

There are other options though for safe car travel with your pet such as a car barrier or seat belts (especially for dogs). With a car barrier (a plastic or metal screen), make sure your pet has enough room to move around in the provided space but will not be able to jump over into the front seat where they can cause an accident. A dog harness or seat belt may get some getting used to for your pet but it keeps them safe in case of an accident and is easy to hook up and attach to the seat belts already in the car.

If you decide on a hot day to drive with the windows open, just be aware that letting the dog stick their head out of the window when the car is moving can be hazardous as flying bits of dirt and debris can injure their eyes.

Please do not place your dogs in the back of a truck unsecured as they can be injured if they get thrown out of the truck or are not able to stabilize themselves properly. Also, the bed of the truck floor can be very hot from the sun which can burn your pets sensitive paw pads, causing painful blisters.

There are also laws regarding the safe transport of an animal. You could be charged under the Ontario Health to Animals Act, The Ontario Highway Traffic Act and/or if an animal is injured as a result of unsafe travel, it is an offence under the OSPCA Act or Criminal Code of Canada for permitting or causing an animal to be in distress or suffering.

NEVER leave your pet in the car unattended. Plan your route and get all your supplies before you travel. If your pet has to stay in the car at all unattended then they should not have come on the trip with you in the first place. Even with the car windows cracked and the car parked in the shade, the temperature inside the car can escalate quickly and turn it into an oven. The temperature can become too hot for the pet to be able to cool itself down, their body temperature will rise to dangerous levels causing heatstroke and they can die within minutes. 

A dog’s normal temperature is 39 C and a temperature rise of just 2 degrees (41C) can cause irreparable brain damage or death. 

If upon your travels, you notice a dog in a parked car on even a mildly warm day and the dog appears to have difficulty breathing, is panting excessively, is salivating or vomiting, or is listlessness or unconscious or you are just concerned for the animal, please contact your local SPCA at 310-SPCA or 1-888-668-7722. For a quick response, contact your local police by dialing 911, (a police officer is obligated by law to respond if a local SPCA agent is not in the area and/or because it is also an offence for any person to cause/permit distress to an animal). 

To cool a dog off some tips are to remove the dog from direct heat. Spray with cool water (not cold water) or place cool or lukewarm (not cold) water soaked towels on the dogs head, neck, chest, paw pads, and abdomen. Place a fan in the dog’s direction, offer cool drinking water and/or take the dog to the nearest veterinary hospital. 

If you and your pet are fond of traveling together, then please make it a safe and memorable trip this summer. After traveling, it is always a good idea to have your pet tested for internal or external parasites like, heartworm, fleas, and ticks as you never know what they can pick up that can cause an illness; especially from hiking in the woods or swimming in ponds or lakes.