Pet Care at Holiday Time

Some simple arrangements are necessary to ensure the safety of your pet whether it accompanies you on your holiday or is left behind at home or in a boarding kennel.

Many dogs and cats tend to become over excited on a car trip and can make the journey a misery for themselves and the other occupants of the car. If your pet falls into this category, or if it is frightened by the car and prone to car-sickness, ask your vet for some tranquilizer tablets.

These should be given about an hour before setting off, as they are not effective if given to an already stressed animal. Given in the correct dosage according to the size of the animal they are quite harmless and will make the animal rest quietly and tend to fall into a natural sleep from which it can be quickly roused.

Dogs and cats control their body temperature by drawing air over their expanded moistened tongue. In hot conditions the dog pants to increase this airflow and tends to salivate more. Make sure your pet is in a well ventilated part of the car and offer it frequent drinks of cold water, as it tends to lose a lot of fluid in hot conditions. Cats are probably better confined in a well ventilated box or cage, but should also be offered sips of water every hour or so.

When it is necessary to leave the animal in a stationary car all windows should be left partially open. Make sure also that the car is completely shaded, as the summer sun falling on only part of the car can make the inside intolerably hot.

In heat-wave conditions some older animals may suffer heatstroke. The animal pants so fast that certain chemical changes occur in its blood that can bring about collapse and cardiac failure. The danger signs are a growing distress, restlessness and a change of color in the tongue from normal bright pink to a bluish tone.

First aid consists of getting the animal into a well ventilated, quiet, shaded place and sponging it from head to foot with cold water. If the color of the tongue does not return to normal and the breathing is still very rapid consult a vet as quickly as possible.

Pets left at home should be under the care of a trustworthy friend, preferably one already known to the animal. The animal should be visited at least once a day and dogs should be exercised. The pet should be supervised while being fed, to make sure the food is not being taken by some itinerant animal. Water should be available in a large container that the pet cannot upset. Also, give the person looking after the pet specific instructions as to what should be done if the animal becomes sick.

Before putting your pet in boarding kennels make sure it is up to date with vaccinations. Initial vaccinations should ideally be given at least a week before boarding, although booster injections will be effective within a few days. If your pet is prone to eczema during the summer months, or has any recurring health problems, warn the kennel-owner and leave the name of the vet who has treated the animal.

For pets staying at home with their owners, don’t spoil your holiday and theirs by feeding chicken bones, chop bones or any cooked bones capable of being broken into sharp fragments which when swallowed may cause very unpleasant complications. Dogs cannot tolerate too much highly seasoned or fatty food. Ham and pork induces a violent gastroenteritis in many dogs.

If you take your dog to the coast remember that ticks abound at this time of the year and some preventive measure is necessary. If the animal does not go swimming, an insecticidal wash repeated weekly will probably suffice. If the dog is liable to go swimming some tick tablets given daily is the best preventive measure. The dosage of these tablets should be given according to the dog’s weight and should not be given for longer than 14 days in one continuous period.

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