Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Photo of puppy at vet © Homeagain.com

Tiny radio frequency ID tags can be implanted painlessly in seconds.
© Homeagain.com

February 2010

Creature Comforts

Road ready

Kiera Wiatrak

You and Fido have been cooped up all winter and it's time to plan a road trip. Whether it's for only a day or a week, here are some tips to consider to make the trip easier on you and your pooch.

In case of emergency

Make sure your dog's tag has up to date information with your name, home phone and cell phone, in addition to your vet's name and number. Consider carrying a photo of your dog to show to the locals in case he gets lost, or have your vet implant a radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip in your dog to track his whereabouts. Carry your dog's medical records and consider getting your dog vaccinated for Lyme disease if there could be ticks in your planned area of travel. Ask your vet for further vaccination recommendations specific to where you are going.

Make your pet at home on the road

Consistency and routine are essential for a smooth traveling experience. Bring along a few of his favorite toys and maybe a blanket he likes to sleep on at home. Not only will these objects keep your pet busy, they also contain the scent of home and provide additional comfort for your pet.

Consider investing in either a carrier or crate, or canine seatbelt system to keep your pet safe in a car accident. Line the carrier with blankets from home so it feels like a personal haven for your pet on the road. Never leave your dog alone in the car. Temperatures rise quickly in the enclosed space and can lead to heat stroke or even death.

Get him used to the car

If previous car trips were a visit to the vet, your dog may not understand that car rides can result in new and exciting adventures. A few days before your road trip, take your dog for a few short trips in the car that end in a walk in the park or a fun visit with a family friend. Your dog will learn that car rides aren't necessarily stressful experiences, and you will learn whether or not your dog gets car sick or nervous. If that's the case, you can purchase ginger capsules for car sickness or spray products for comfort. Spray these products – which contain natural canine pheromones that cause them to feel calm and relaxed – in their crates or on their blankets.

Longer trips

Car trips that last for more than a few hours involve extra consideration for your pet. Stop every 2 to 3 hours so he can go to the bathroom and stretch his legs. Keep feeding schedules the same. If you expect your road schedule to vary from your home schedule, put your dog on the expected feeding schedule a few days before you leave to ease him into the transition. While many hotels or motels allow pets, some charge extra for canine guests or require deposits that are returned if your pet does no damage. Make sure to call hotels or motels in advance and speak to a manager about their specific rule regarding pets.

A spoonful of dog food helps the medicine go down

When your dog is sick and pills seem to be more than he can swallow, consider these tips to make the experience go more smoothly.

  • Check with your vet to see if it can be given with food, or if it can be crushed or cut.
  • If it can be crushed (or if it's liquid), disguise it in some smelly, tasty morsel you know your dog will gulp right down. After it's down, finish with the rest of his meal.
  • If the pill can't be taken with food, put your left hand (if you're right-handed) over the top of your dog' muzzle and gently grab her lips.
  • Tip up the nose and with your right hand put the pill in the back of the throat.
  • Close the mouth and hold the nose up, blowing gently in the nose or stroking the throat to encourage him to swallow.
  • Watch your dog for a minute to make sure the pill is down and follow with a treat to make the experience a positive one.

To watch a video of this routine, visit How to Give a Dog a Pill.

Kiera Wiatrak worked as an editorial assistant with Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.