Written by Lindsay McGill
Photo above is of Brandy, taken by her foster mom Sharon at the cottage.
With a few long weekends and the warm weather coming up lots of people plan on going camping and up to the cottage with their furry side-kicks. What a lot of people don’t realize is that there are lots of potential safety concerns that they must watch out for while travelling to and vacationing at their summer destination. For your pet’s safety and for a more pleasant summer “vet-free”, please read this article for some safety tips.
First and foremost, please make sure that your dog has been to the vet for his/her regular checkup where they can be treated properly for protection against parasites or diseases which are carried through ticks and fleas.
I’ve been heading to the cottage almost every single weekend in the summer with my dog Gilmour for the past two years now. With that being said, I have put together a little routine for the two of us prior to him jumping into my car for the 2 ½ hour drive. For starters, I usually like to feed him his meal (whether it be his breakfast, lunch or dinner) at least an hour and a half prior to him getting into the vehicle. This allows for his food to digest, and it will also help to settle his stomach because lots of dogs are prone to getting car sick. For both of our sakes I usually take Gilmour out for at least a 15 min walk before we take off on the road. This allows him to do his business and that way he can usually last the entire car ride without having to go to the washroom. But, with that being said I always have spare poo-bags, a bottle of water (and his dish) because I usually like to stop for a quick iced coffee mid-way through my trip to give both Gilmour and I a break.
There are several different ways that you can travel with your furry-pal like using a crate to keep him/her safe and secure during the ride without having puppy paws and tails in your face while trying to drive. With bigger dogs this is next to impossible because the crate will not fit. There are plenty of specialty pet stores that sell harnesses with a seat belt strap already built in to keep your dog secure. You never know when you may need to make a sudden stop while driving, and this just ensures that your dog will be safe in case of an emergency. Generally, I like to not use the air-conditioning at any time while I am driving regardless of if Gilmour is in the car or not, so he is very happy with having all of the windows rolled down. It allows for the fresh and natural air to come in, which keeps my guy occupied trying to figure out the different smells as we go along. Sometimes Gilmour can become a little too interested in the different smells, so I keep the window that is closest to him rolled half way down to guarantee that he will not try to worm his way out! I’ve also noticed that Gilmour appreciates when I do not have the music blaring on high (remember that pets ears are much more sensitive than ours), so keeping him happy really helps to calm him down during the ride.
Once we’ve arrived safe and sound at the cottage I like to take Gilmour inside immediately in order for me to inspect the surrounding area for deceased animals, wild mushrooms, broken glass etc… these are things that I would hate for him to get into, which could have easily been prevented. Many people also like to bring an extra-long leash/leashes and a peg to put into the ground to keep their pet from wandering into the neighbour’s yard or from going into the water unattended. Gilmour has a fear of leaving his owners behind, so I am guilty of allowing him to run off of a leash while he is up North, although this is not suggested. You must keep in mind that there are so many things that can happen to your pet while wandering around, so if you do allow this make sure that your pet has been micro-chipped or that his collar has a contact number that can be reached if he/she goes missing.
If you have a dog like Gilmour who is absolutely obsessed with the water you must make sure that he/she is in sight at all times. Especially in the earlier months (May) I like to check the water temperature before allowing Gilmour to get into the water because when it is cold dogs are in higher risk of getting hypothermia. My pup wears a very colourful collar with bells on it to ensure that we know where he is (even at night time), but I like to make sure that it is ridiculously loose just in case he gets hooked onto a tree branch floating in the water (it makes it much easier for him to slip out of it). Many people like to purchase some kind of a floatation device or even a pet lifejacket to keep them afloat regardless of if they mean to jump in the water or not. Although your cottage or camp ground may be surrounded by water which makes you think that the dog cannot get dehydrated, you should always have a shaded area and water dish around at all times. Some dogs are very sensitive to lake water, and this is why I like to give Gilmour the fresh water that we drink.
The majority of pet safety is common sense, but it is always good to re-cap on safety tips prior to leaving on your summer vacation. Hoping everyone will have a happy and safe long weekend that is coming up J
For more cottage safety tips, visit the SPCA website.
Another shot of Brandy loving cottage life!