On holiday with your dog – 7 things to remember
Dogs are excellent companions on holiday. Always remember to encourage your dog in new situations and reward it generously for good behavior. It can be a lot of fun to visit interesting places with your best friend, but what if something happens while you are on holiday? We asked veterinarian Katja Rajalin from Keski-Suomen eläinklinikka how dog owners can prepare for unpleasant surprises. She listed seven things we should all remember.
First aid kit
If you are traveling out of town, you should have at least a basic first aid kit with you (wound dressing supplies and diarrhea medicine). It also makes sense to look up contact information for an emergency veterinary service in advance – just in case you need it. If you are traveling by car for a long time, organize your lunch and other breaks so that you do not have to leave your dog alone in the car in hot weather.
There are ticks almost everywhere in Finland (with the exception of the northern part of the country), so it is important to take care of tick prevention. There are various products available, some of which require a prescription. For short-haired dogs, a daily tick check may be enough.
You should restrict your dog’s swimming time, especially if it has heart or circulatory problems, such as valvular heart disease. You should also make sure that your dog’s undercoat has enough time to dry in order to prevent skin infections. Always be aware of your dog’s physical condition. Enthusiastic swimmers may not be able to assess how far they should swim. Even if your dog is young and healthy, use your common sense – too much is aways too much.
If your dog has a thick coat, too much time in the water can lead to an inflamed skin lesion known as a hot spot. If the area is small (roughly the size of a coin or smaller), you may be able to treat it at home. The most important thing is to trim the hair in the infected area. You can also clean the area with an antiseptic product. Your dog needs to take a break from swimming. Acute caudal myopathy, also known as limber tail syndrome or swimmer’s tail, is a relatively common problem among dogs that start swimming early in the spring when the water is still cold. The condition is usually treated with anti-inflammatory pain medication.
The most important thing you should always remember: Never leave your dog in the car on a sunny summer day.
Avoid going for walks in hot weather. It is advisable to walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening when the weather is cooler. Especially dogs with a heart condition feel uncomfortable in hot weather. You should be prepared for this and talk to your vet about possible changes in your dog’s medication. If your dog is old or has a heart condition, it is particularly important to keep the dog’s living environment nice and cool and to avoid physical exertion.
Swimming is a great way to cool down, if possible. You can also use a wet towel or a cooling mat.
Snakes and wasps
A snakebite is always an emergency. You should contact a vet immediately and take your dog to a veterinary clinic. Try to keep your dog still. Hydrocortisone tablets (often called “kyypakkaus” in Finnish) are no longer recommended as first aid. You should only give a tablet to your dog if its airways are about to swell shut. If your dog has been stung by a wasp, it is a good idea to give a hydrocortisone tablet. The correct dosage is one tablet per 10 kg. However, never give more than three tablets even if you have a big dog. If your dog is taking anti-inflammatory pain medication, you should not give hydrocortisone before consulting a vet.
Puppies often suffer from carsickness, but it usually eases with age. You should try to work on the situation because your dog may associate car rides with an unpleasant feeling, even if they no longer suffer from carsickness. You should also remember that your dog may show the signs of carsickness (drooling or trembling) when scared.
Perhaps you could try putting your dog in a different place in the car and see if it makes car rides easier. For safety reasons, dogs should always travel in a crate or in the back of the car behind a barrier or wear a harness. You should at first only take your dog on short car rides. If you are having difficulties with just approaching the car or getting your dog into the car, you should contact a trainer for advice. If your dog “only” suffers from carsickness, you could try giving it nausea prevention medicine before the car ride (a vet's prescription is needed).
When should I take my dog to a vet?
If your dog is in pain and/or its general state of health has deteriorated, you should take it to a vet immediately. A dog’s general state of health refers to alertness, appetite, drinking, eating, peeing and pooping.
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