More travellers are taking their dogs on holiday with them. Dominique Kuhlmann, General Manager of the Pet Food Industry Association of Southern Africa (PFI), provides some tips to make road tripping with your dog fun and safe:
In your planning stages you’ll want to ensure that your destination is pet-friendly.
Once there your dog should wear a sturdy collar with an information disc containing your contact details with your cellphone number. Microchips are becoming the most popular method of identification, but a tag offers an immediate solution, and owners can often be located before needing to take the pet to the vet to read the microchip. It’s also a good idea to travel with a photo of your pet in case he gets lost.
Only feed a small meal a few hours before you leave to limit the effect of car sickness. Be prepared to stop often, to allow your dog to toilet and stretch his legs but secure your pet on a leash before opening any doors. Offer him small amounts of water at regular intervals to prevent dehydration.
Although your dog may love sticking his head out of the window, it really is not recommended – the risk of injury is high, with debris and insects flying by, cold wind being forced into their lungs and electric window controls easily stepped on.
Try to stick to your dog’s normal eating habits. Your dog’s regular food will avoid any possible digestive disturbances that switching may cause. Although most foods are stocked nationally, it is possible that your more remote destinations may not have what you’re looking for, so be sure to check this ahead of time.
Seeing the vet before a long journey with your dog/s is never a bad idea. Certain vaccinations may be required for the destination and the vet should give your dogs the “all clear” for travel. It’s also a good opportunity to discuss sedative options for nervous and restless travelers or car sickness remedies.
Travel with your pets’ veterinary certificates and be well-prepared with additional equipment to make the journey and holiday a safe, relaxed and comfortable one, such as:
* Cooling blankets.
* Seat covers – to protect your car seats.
* Non-spill dishes .
* Pet car seat.
* Window Bumper, which clips onto the window so that your dog can rest its head on the soft padded bumper, instead of directly on the hard window ledge, for those who like to watch where they are going.
* Safety belt attachments – this allows your dog to lie down on the back seat, get to the window for air BUT stops him from lunging onto the front seat.
* Safety Sitters – these allow you to buckle your pet in to prevent him from jumping out and disturbing passengers or pedestrians.
* Safety nets.
Finally, be aware of the temperature in the car. Blankets may be needed in cold temperatures and open windows or air conditioners (with vents in reach of your dog) are needed when travelling in very hot weather. Never leave your pet in the car as the car’s internal temperature could rise to fatal levels very quickly.