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Vacationing with pets

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Never, ever leave the dog in the car without you in it, even with the A/C on.

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Never, ever leave the dog in the car without you in it, even with the A/C on. Photo Store

When you mention vacationing with your pet, most people think "taking the dogs to the cottage." 

And that is what the majority of vacationing pets are. But not everyone has a dog that they bring to the cottage. You’d be surprised at the variety of pets that get taken on holiday.

Taking the dog(s) on a road trip is just like packing up any other family member.  Make sure you take enough food for the trip, the last thing you want is to change foods mid vacation. Especially when there may be a shortage of choice, and you may not be able to find a good food for your dog. The resulting digestive upset can make the vacation unforgettable, and not in a good way.

Some pets don’t travel well. Your vet can prescribe anti-nausea medications to help, or recommend a dosage of an over-the-counter people medication that would be appropriate. A properly-sized kennel or a seat belt should be used whenever the pet is in the car, to protect it, and you, in the case of an accident. Remember, hydration is important for pets as well as people, and dogs need to drink and pee a lot when travelling.  Factor those rest stops in as well as the ones for the human passengers.  

Never, ever, leave the dog in the car without you in it. Even leaving the car running with the A/C on isn’t always safe, especially using remote starts, as they generally have an automatic turn off after so many minutes. You might just be heading into the store for a minute, but any delay could end up fatal to your pet.

Cats are easy to leave at home, just needing an occasional look in to make sure they have food, water and a clean litter box. But many make the trip with the family to the lake. Most are indoor animals that stay inside the whole time, but some are let run, or have tie outs to keep them nearby.  

Cats or even small dogs face dangers in the wild they do not have in town. Hawks and eagles do not see them as anything different from a rabbit or squirrel, and are just as likely to snatch them up as they would any other small animal in the woods. And those aren’t the only predators out there. I’ve heard of too many tragedies like this that could have been avoided.   
Many people take rabbits, guinea pigs or rats along with them. These little animals have no problem making the trip, and handle the cottage life quite well. And they can take advantage of nice, clean wild forage that their owners can collect for them, relatively safe from the chemicals we find at home. The biggest concern is that we keep them hydrated in the higher temperatures they may face away from the wonders of central air.  

Lizards also make the trip. Some, like bearded dragons, love the heat and the opportunity to bask in the sun. Others, like crested geckos, can find temperatures over 80F to be stressful, even fatal. So, make sure you can provide appropriate temperatures for cold-blooded animals when you travel, and ensure proper hydration.  

Like small dogs and cats, rodents and lizards can be easily swooped up by predators. Make sure any outdoor enclosures you prepare for them are secure from predators, especially if you are leaving them outside overnight. Hawks, owls, raccoons and foxes are just a few of the animals that would love to make a meal out of your beloved pet.

A little thought and advanced planning can make your summer vacation great for everyone, including your pets.

Contact Jeff with your questions or ideas at aardvarkpets@shaw.ca or visit www.aardvarkpets.com

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