Two versions of this article, the long one following this paragraph and the short version after it. I recommend the long one.
In the last couple of months I have made some really big road trips with my dogs, and I realized as I was making preparations how many things there are to think about that I have learned the hard way or through a lot of experience that I feel I should share.
First things to think about when traveling in this heat wave is think about redundancy. What I mean by that is make Murphy (from Murphy’s law) your friend for a minute as you make your preparations. Think of everything that can go wrong and make sure you are prepared.
For example if you are traveling by car through these wicked Temperatures (113 Fahrenheit was my highest recorded temperature on my last trip), You must have air conditioning for your vehicle or you and your dogs are not going to make it. But what if it fails? What if the car breaks down? What if you are stuck in traffic for a road closure or an accident and your car can’t keep up with the heat when idling? I drive an old 15 passenger van with rear heat and AC but it only blows cold enough if we are moving about 50 mph despite all the repairs I could perform. So knowing I have a problem vehicle I have backup plans. I carry a big easy up with me as well. The Van doesn’t count as shade because it doesn’t have unrestricted air movement if it breaks down. It gets hotter inside there than it is outside. But I can put the easy up up over the van and it keeps it 10-15 degrees cooler. Or I can set it up away from the van if there is a breeze and get it much cooler. I also have AAA and a cell phone that is always charged. It’s also much better if you can travel in tandem with someone who could go for help or have another cool car in the case of a breakdown.
I carry an ice chest full of drinks, water, snacks and ice. Cold water or ice may be a life saver in a heat event.
They make cooling mats you can place in kennels or on the ground that use transpiration to cool your dog as well if they will lay on them. Those are an awesome addition. Remember not to exert energy or let the dogs exert energy when it is that hot and you don’t have a way to keep cool.
Always travel with cleanup supplies. You never know when a dog may get car sick or other problems. I always have paper towels, water and disinfectant wipes with me and an extra air freshener for the vehicle. Trust me that is one you will forget to think about until the time you really need it.
Plan your route and your stops, but be aware of other possible stops along the way in case of repairs, potty needs etc.
I love to stop at Loves Gas Stations now on my road trips because most of them have a fenced pet area now where my fully vaccinated dogs can get out to stretch and potty. Do not stop at places like this with young puppies who are not fully vaccinated ever! Always take your own clean water bowl to prevent things like giardia. They generally are grassy areas so it is cool for their feet and lower temperatures than standing in a parking lot. At these stops both the dogs and I have a restroom break, get snacks, get fuel and get going again. Watch for them on your route. If you are traveling with a young puppy who is not fully vaccinated, never stop at gas stations, dog parks etc to let the puppy have a potty stop. Carry your own Exercise pen with you, they are quick and easy and fold flat for travel and work better for puppies who may not be willing to potty on leash yet. Find somewhere off the beaten path to stop and setup a safe potty area for them. You don’t need to learn this hard lesson by going through parvo yourself. Find a spot other dogs haven’t been somewhere on the side of a road. Not a main exit, not an area frequented by people or other pets. Parvo can survive in the ground up to 7 years. If you have to stop other places, simply take newspapers with you, lay them down in your exercise pen and make sure the puppy stays on the papers then have a garbage bag to roll them up and throw them away.
Don’t let your fuel gauge get below half. You need to stop and walk around to stay healthy and alert and your dogs need the breaks as well. Most importantly you never want to run out of fuel and therefore air conditioning and be stuck in the heat. But the thing people don’t think about is accidents, road closures, construction, detours etc that all may cause you to use more fuel than you were expecting and may leave you short of your destination. Always have at least half a tank.
It should go without saying but sadly it doesn’t, don’t ever ever ever leave your dogs in the car unattended. I don’t care if you leave it running, things can go wrong, cars break or run out of fuel or any myriad of problems. Make sure you have someone with the vehicle and animals, or make sure you have the animals with you outside of the car. Seriously don’t even argue this one.
Pay attention to the ground temperatures when you are getting your dogs out. If you can’t hold the back of your hand against the ground for 7 seconds, it is too hot for their feet as well. Black asphalt is almost always off limits if it is over 85 degrees. Seriously check it you will be surprised. Dog boots are awesome. Duck tape and extra tube socks can be an emergency dog boot. So can just about anything but don’t expect them to walk on hot surfaces without protection.
If you are traveling through desert areas always have some kind of multi tool with you. Always. The first time you have cactus spines in yourself or your furry friend you are going to write me a thank you note. Also you simply always need a multi tool for something. Make it part of every day.
Carry bear spray. Seriously don’t laugh at me. Always have that with you on a trip. It works against all living creatures that could be a threat to you, your dogs or your property. Don’t laugh this one off no matter how tough you are. I have used bear spray to prevent dog fights or dog attacks. IF a mean dog is charging you or your dog bear spray will stop them without killing them and the aggressive dog learns a lesson. Be smart though if you can’t tell the difference between a friendly approach and an aggressive approach never consider doing this.
Fire extinguisher- Another one people never really think about until a tragedy of some kind happens. Make sure it is a big enough one for a tragic vehicle fire. Don’t park your hot car on or near brush or dry grasses. That should be common sense but you would be surprised. The greatest use of all time for fire extinguishers though that people don’t think about…. Breaking up dog fights. That is a whole article in and of it self, be sure to read our article on that, but the short version is this. In a dog fight a fires extinguisher displaces all the oxygen and dogs can breathe. They have to let go of each other and try to find air. That is when you can safely get them apart and restrained. Don’t ever under any circumstance get your hands or your person involved in trying to stop a dog fight. Seriously I have seen so many severe injuries. You don’t understand how many stitches I got learning this lesson.
If you have a remote breakdown and can’t get help to you, hunker down with these cooling techniques until the son goes down before trying to leave to get help.
How will your dog travel? Most trips my dogs are in a dog trailer that has heating and air-conditioning, or inside a toy hauler with heating and air-conditioning, a dog box in the bed of the truck that also has a camper shell over the box (Only if temperatures are appropriate), in a travel crate inside the vehicle. I never let dogs ride loose unless they are small young puppies on someone’s lap. Hard stops or tight turns throw dogs around a vehicle and make them hate going for rides and potentially injure them. a Crate gives them something to brace against, but ideally would be anchored for safety in a collision. Seatbelt harnesses work as well if your dog is comfortable with them.
Remember the best way to prevent a tragedy is to prepare ahead of time for potential catastrophes.
Traveling with a French Brittany: A Comprehensive Guide for Summer Road Trips
Traveling with a pet, especially on a summer road trip, can be a rewarding experience. If your companion is a French Brittany, understanding their temperament and physical limitations is the first step towards a smooth journey. This guide provides in-depth insights and tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip with your French Brittany.
Understanding Your French Brittany
French Brittanys are energetic, intelligent, and versatile dogs. They are a relatively small breed, often weighing between 30-40 pounds. Their high energy levels require ample exercise, making them great companions for outdoor adventures. However, they are also sensitive to high temperatures due to their dense double coat, which can pose challenges during summer travels.
The Journey Begins: Pre-Trip Preparations
Safety comes first when traveling with your pet. Harnesses that can be connected to seat belts or crash-tested crates are highly recommended. These not only protect your dog in case of an accident but also prevent them from distracting the driver.
Hydration and Feeding Schedules
Hydration is crucial for dogs, especially in hot weather. Always ensure your dog has access to fresh drinking water. Avoid feeding them right before the journey to prevent car sickness. Instead, feed them a few hours before you set off and then again during breaks.
Remember, if it’s hot for you, it’s even hotter for your furry friend. Never leave your dog in a parked car. The temperature inside a car can quickly rise to dangerous levels, even with the windows open. Portable fans, cooling mats, and plenty of shade can help keep your pet comfortable during rest stops.
Planning for the Unexpected
Despite thorough preparations, unforeseen incidents can occur. It’s essential to have a contingency plan.
Ensure your dog is microchipped and wearing a collar with up-to-date contact information. Carry a first-aid kit equipped with essentials for both humans and dogs. Include items such as bandages, tweezers, a digital thermometer, and a list of emergency veterinary clinics along your route.
As a seasoned traveler with my own French Brittany, I’ve learned a few tricks. One is carrying a spray bottle filled with water. It’s a quick and easy way to cool down your dog. Also, I’ve found that bringing along their favorite toys or blanket helps to comfort them during long drives.
Traveling with a French Brittany requires thoughtful planning and preparation. Understand their unique needs, equip your vehicle with appropriate restraints, maintain regular hydration and feeding schedules, and prepare for potential mishaps. With these measures in place, your summer road trip with your French Brittany will be an unforgettable adventure. After all, the joy of travel is all the more meaningful when shared with our beloved pets.