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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 19, 2006

On the road with Rover, safely

By Dr. Marty Becker
Knight Ridder News Service

More dogs are hitting the road today than ever before. According to a recent American Pet Products Manufacturers Association survey, almost one in five dog owners will be packing their pooches when they head off on vacation this summer. Life will roll along better for your roadie-pets, if you add this six-pack of items to their bags.

1. An "ID pack" for the itinerant dog Before you hit the road, make sure your dog has a current rabies tag, and an identification tag with your cell phone number on it. If your dog becomes lost, you don't want someone calling your home phone when you're not there. The tag should be securely attached to a collar that will not slip over the pet's head. Write your phone number with a permanent marker on a nylon collar. Bring a current photo of your pet, along with a printed description that can be photocopied to make posters if your pet becomes lost on the road. This can be helful even if your dog is microchipped with new ISO chips.

2. An extra lead It's easy to misplace a lead or throw it out by mistake with the paper plates from a picnic barbeque. Consider a space-efficient nylon lead, plus an expandable leash to allow your dog a little more sight-seeing.

3. First aid supplies Being prepared is the best defense against an emergency for you and your pet. Bring along a "pet first-aid" kit. This should include tweezers, scissors, cotton swabs and petroleum jelly, as well as any medications your pet needs. For insect bites, cuts or wounds, clip the hair around the area, clean gently with soap and water, then apply a triple antibiotic cream. Get serious animal bites checked out by a veterinarian to prevent serious infection.

4. A safe place to ride Always restrain pets in the car to prevent them distracting the driver and for their own safety. Even if your pets stay still during rides, they can become flying projectiles in a fender-bender. "There have never been more options available for restraining pets safely and comfortably when traveling," said Joe Fucini, a spokesperson for the Pet Supplies "Plus" chain. "We're seeing a record interest in everything from pet booster seats to portable kennels in a variety of sizes. You should always pick a carrier that provides adequate ventilation to keep your pet comfortable. When you position a carrier in your car, be sure not to block the ventilation openings."

5. Quick clean-up supplies Dogs can get just as messy on the road as they do at home. So, pack plenty of poop baggies, paper towels, pet wipes, and some old cloth towels in case Fido goes swimming. New "waterless shampoos" like Gold Medal Pets' Unicoat Spray can be a real lifesaver by removing dirt, stains and debris when you don't have access to running water.

6. Familiar food and blanket A sudden change of food can easily lead to intestinal problems even in pets that don't normally suffer from motion sickness. Pack enough of your pet's regular food to last your entire trip. It's a good idea to get a portable feeding system like the elevated Store N' Feed To Go from OurPet's that allows you to stock a large supply of food in the water-tight storage compartment below its two stainless steel bowls.

Just like people, dogs don't live by bread (or kibble) alone. A familiar blanket and favorite chew or Kong Dog Toy can go a long way toward comforting a homesick pet. Being away from home can be stressful for pets, so be sure to give them familiar items and some privacy whenever you can, while still keeping an eye on them. After all, a vacation should be relaxing for pets too!