THE WELCOME MAT STAYS OUT FOR CLEAN, QUIET CANINE TRAVELERS
Summer is prime time for vacationing with children, but if your family's "little ones" have four legs and bark, the better time to hit the road is now.
The weather's cooler and the hot travel spots are, too. And that means you'll find favorite destinations a little less crowded and possibly a lot more friendly to people traveling with their canine companions. Maria Goodavage, an author who's an expert in traveling with pets, offered her rules for traveling with a dog in our book "The Ultimate Dog Lover." They include:
-- Bring only a well-behaved, friendly, clean, flea-free, healthy, house-trained dog on your travels. Dogs who are dirty and ill-mannered can close doors for future canine travel companions.
-- Beware of leaving your dog in the car. Even if it seems cool out, the sun's heat passing through your windows can kill a dog in a matter of minutes.
-- Make sure your dog always has access to cool, clean water. Dogs on the road may drink even more than they do at home.
-- Take regular breaks. There's nothing more miserable than being stuck in a car when you can't find a rest stop and really need one. Imagine how a dog feels when the urge strikes and he can't tell you the problem. How frequently you stop depends on your dog's bladder and disposition.
-- Play it safe by making sure your dog is wearing his license, ID and rabies tags. Make sure your dog's ID tag shows your cellphone number, since that's how you're reachable while on the road.
The biggest mistake people traveling with dogs make is not following proper "petiquette." This means:
-- Never leave your dog alone in your room. Leaving a dog alone in a strange place invites serious trouble. If you just can't bring your dog along to an outing, some hotels offer pet-sitting, or can provide you with contact information for local sitters and kennels.
-- Don't let your dog bark when you're at a lodging or a restaurant.
-- Always scoop the poop on your walks. You know it's there. Don't ignore it.
-- Don't use your room's ice bucket as a food or water bowl. Gross!
-- Yes, your dog needs to be clean. No, don't bathe him in your hotel's tub.
Pack a "doggy bag" that includes your dog's food, bowls (including a non-spill bowl for car rides), bedding, a brush, leash, towels if you'll be in mud or water, a first-aid kit, poop bags, prescription drugs, proof of vaccination, treats, toys and your favorite dog travel guide. (Water you can get on the road.) For dogs who insist on sleeping on the bed with you, bring a sheet to protect the hotel bedding.
Bookmark websites that help you find pet-friendly lodgings or veterinarian practices, or download apps that find hotels and emergency care for you. Plan ahead, stay safe and be considerate, and you and your dog will always be welcomed back.
help prevent FLUTD
Q: We've just had a very expensive lesson in the feline urological system. How can we avoid another one? -- via Facebook
A: The No. 1 reason cats are taken to a veterinarian outside of preventive care is for feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), a serious disorder that affects the urinary system of cats.
FLUTD often causes cats to urinate outside the litter box, a classic warning sign of illness that you can see -- and smell. Other symptoms include straining to urinate, crying out in the box or going more frequently.
Sadly, these signs are often misinterpreted as behavioral problems that end up getting the cat sent to a cage in a shelter instead of to a veterinarian for the medical treatment he needs.
While FLUTD may strike any age or gender of cat, it is more frequently seen in middle-aged, male cats who are overweight or obese. Factors that increase the risk include lack of exercise, stress and chronic dehydration.
Tips for avoiding FLUTD include:
-- Hydration. Some cats will drink more if the water seems fresh, such as with fountains that keep the water filtered and circulating.
-- Breaking up meals. Feed your cat several small meals during the day instead of one or two larger meals.
-- Chill your cat out. Decrease stress in the environment by providing your cat with scratching posts, window perches or kitty condos, and by playing active games with him.
-- Keep home a sweet home. Be more aware of changes in your cat when there are changes in your life such as new pets, a home remodel, a move, etc.
-- Feed for health. Ask your veterinarian if new therapeutic diets for urinary tract health are appropriate for your cat. Some veterinarians recommend that canned food be fed exclusively, since its higher water content increases hydration.
-- Dr. Marty Becker
World Rabies Day
-- While rabies seems to be a disease more historical than feared in the United States, that's not the case elsewhere. More than 55,000 people die every year of the disease, which is transmitted by contact with a rabid animal, often a feral dog. Thanks to aggressive vaccination campaigns that go back for decades, dogs aren't the biggest risk for rabies in developed countries, where wild animals such as skunks and bats give public-health experts the chills. World Rabies Day is Sept. 28, and in the U.S. many veterinarians are working with local animal control and public health agencies to keep dogs and cats out of harm's way -- and, by extension, people as well. Some locales will offer free rabies vaccines for dogs and cats, along with bonuses such as free microchips and licenses. Visit RabiesAlliance.org or check with your local animal control agency for information.
-- Cats have 32 muscles that give them the ability to control the direction of their ears, including rotating them in opposite directions.
-- City officials in Broken Arrow, Okla., reluctantly allowed a woman to keep her "therapy kangaroo" as long as she purchased a $50,000 liability insurance policy for the animal, whose name is Irwin. But by the time Broken Arrow acted, Irwin's owner, Christie Carr, had already moved with her kangaroo onto the grounds of a sanctuary for exotic animals across the state in Wynnewood. -- Gina Spadafori
ABOUT PET CONNECTION
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet care experts headed by "Good Morning America" and "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Gina Spadafori. The two are affiliated with Vetstreet.com and also the authors of many best-selling pet care books. Dr. Becker can also be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker.