Year-Round Travel Tips for Sporting Dogs
Regardless of the season or where the next trip takes you and your dog, traveling can be stressful for your hunting partner. By doing your homework and planning ahead, you can help ensure your dog’s safety and comfort while on the road. Follow these tips to help simplify your journey, regardless of the time and distance.
Meal Prep for Your Dog
If you’re on a weeklong trip in remote areas, the odds of finding a quality performance dog food, such as Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance 30/20 Formula, may be challenging. Proportion your dog’s food so you have an ample supply. You’ll likely feed your dog slightly more than usual during a multiday event, so be sure to pack extra. A good rule of thumb to gauge a dog’s food consumption is one pound of food per dog per day.
Bring Your Own Water
A change in water source, especially going from hard to soft water, can upset your dog’s GI system, increasing his or her risk of diarrhea and potentially causing dehydration and overheating. Dehydration can be dangerous because it increases your dog’s heart’s workload, impairs the delivery of nutrients and removal of waste from the muscles, and reduces your dog’s ability to maintain a normal body temperature. Bring several gallons of water from home as a consistent source, or use bottled water while traveling. To help encourage your dog to drink when away from home, bait his or her water with a small handful of kibble. On hot travel days, you can also cut blocks of ice and place in your dog’s bowl in his or her crate in the back of your truck or trailer for the dog to lick.
Stock Up on First-Aid Essentials
Canine first aid is crucial when you’re far from a veterinarian. Brush up on your basic knowledge of performing first aid and replenish your kit with these supplies: absorbent gauze pads, elastic bandages, tape, tweezers, antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, antihistamine, saline solution, and any veterinarian-prescribed or recommended medications.
Build an Insurance Policy
Research veterinarians who can treat hardworking dogs that are located every couple of hundred miles along your planned route and near your final destination. You should also look for 24/7 emergency veterinary clinics if you’ll be traveling at night. Jot down all names and contact information and keep in a handy place, such as inside your first-aid kit.
Customize Your Packing List
Every destination has unique packing requirements. For example, if you’re headed to Montana, you may want to bring a Quill Jig and needle-nosed pliers in case your dog comes across a porcupine, or if you’re crossing into Canada, you’ll need a veterinarian-signed copy of your dog’s rabies vaccination, as well as a health certificate for puppies 8 months of age and younger, to get through customs hassle-free.
Comfort Is King
Despite travel not being restful for a dog, you can at least do all you can to ensure his or her comfort. In warm weather, keep a frozen water bottle in your dog’s crate so he or she can lick the condensation to stay cool between stops. In cold weather, bring a vest and boots to keep your dog warm, a shammy to keep him or her dry, a cover to insulate his or her crate, and a ½-inch pad or piece of Styrofoam to place under the crate to keep him or her off of cold surfaces. Regardless of the season, don’t forget a crate lock for security.
Brake for Rest Areas
Map out rest areas along your route that are situated away from traffic and suitable for dog airing. Some Cabela’s locations even have a reserved area for dogs. Plan to stop every couple of hours to air and exercise your dog on a leash, and know that puppies may need more frequent breaks.
Don’t Skimp on Stake Outs
Bring enough tie-out cables and stakes for as many dogs as you’re traveling with so that in case of emergency, such as a vehicle breakdown, your dogs are secure while you tend to the situation at hand.
Mind Your P’s & Q’s
Basic obedience is important at all times, but especially during travel. The last thing you want when you’re stopped is to open your vehicle door and have your dog bolt out and run around aimlessly. This puts your dog at risk of being hit by a car or getting into something he or she shouldn’t, such as diesel fuel or antifreeze. Avoid accidents while stopped in a parking lot of rest area by training your dog to “stay” when you open the vehicle door or dog box. It’s also a good idea to keep your dog on lead in busy areas. If you find a safe, remote area to air your dog off lead, make sure you can stay in control of your dog and clean up any mess.
BONUS: The One Thing to Never Leave Home Without
You should always pack a thermometer in your first-aid kit, especially during summer travel. If you’re worried about your dog overheating, stop and take his or her temperature. If it’s as high as 107 degrees Fahrenheit, get your dog into the shade and cool him or her down, making sure the temperature comes down. If it doesn’t, take your dog to a veterinarian right away.
Planning a Trip? Boost Your Dog’s Immunity with FortiFlora
Traveling can cause stress that can affect a dog’s immune system. To help support your dog’s immune system health, keep a supply of Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets FortiFlora canine probiotic supplement handy. Prescribed by veterinarians, FortiFlora contains a special strain of probiotic that works to restore normal intestinal microflora. After consulting with your veterinarian, consider starting FortiFlora a few days before leaving on a trip to increase levels of beneficial bacteria and promote a strong immune system, and continue administering it a few days after arriving at your destination.