Travel Tips for Pet Safety This Summer

Summer vacation season is just around the corner. It’s time to start organizing if you plan to travel with your pets this summer. A little bit of advance planning can help with keeping pets cool and comfortable while away from home.

Pack a cool kit for pets — this way, you can grab the kit and go when planning a day out this summer.

  • Freeze filled water bottles to defrost for a supply of cool fresh water
  • Purchase a cooling pad for a day at the beach, like a kennel or car seat. These pads stay cool on their own, but you can also store in the fridge for some extra cooling capacity. They are great for use on hot, hard surfaces such as under a patio table when dining out with your dog.
  • Keep a towel large enough to use as a source of shade for your pet in the car. A towel soaked in water also comes in handy if your pet overheats.
  • Keep a frozen pack handy for travel with wet food or fresh fruit and veggie snacks for your dog. Pack up your dog’s fresh food supply in a cooler bag the night before and store in the fridge so that the whole thing is nice and cold for travel.
  • Well ventilated, soft shell carriers can be used as a short-term source of shade from the hot sun but avoid dark colours as these retain more heat and monitor pets closely.

When is it too hot for pets?
Some pets are more heat sensitive than others. Since dogs and cats do not sweat, they rely on panting to cool themselves. Monitor closely on hot days and watch for signs of distress such as excessive panting, lethargy, inappetence, unfocused or glazed eyes, and a general lack of responsiveness. It can quickly become a life-threatening issue for dogs.

Always go to your veterinarian or an emergency hospital if you think your dog is suffering from heat exhaustion. Dog breeds with short snouts have greater difficulty breathing and tend to overheat more rapidly than dogs with longer noses. Therefore, temperatures that are comfortable for humans may not necessarily be safe for some dogs. Offer fresh water more frequently when out on hot days. Leaving pets at home in an air-conditioned space is preferable on hot days over 24 degrees.

Do the five-second test on hot concrete and roads. Dark tarmac roads and paths retain even more heat than concrete. Place your hand on the walking surface for a full 5 or 6 seconds. If it’s too hot to hold for 5 seconds, imagine how it feels on your dog’s foot pads when walking or standing in place for longer. Try sticking to grassy or dirt paths when walking your dog on hot days. Carry enough water to splash on their feet if it’s hot outside.

Exercise restrictions in hot weather.
Dogs do not tend to self-regulate well when exercising and may continue to play and run beyond safety margins for overheating. Monitor carefully and cut play times in the park shorter on hot days or skip it altogether and go for a walk. Offer fresh water frequently, and if you think your dog is at risk of overheating, sprinkle them with water and go to a veterinarian immediately.

With these tips in mind, we hope you have an active and fun summer with your pets.

Written by: Jill Whitfield, AHT