Monday, February 27, 2012


Helpful Buckeye doesn't expect to see any of our readers riding in a vehicle with their pet jumping loosely through the car, riding with its head out the window, or riding unprotected in the back of a pick up truck.  After last week's warnings about the imminent dangers of those activities, even your pets will be crying out for some kind of restraint!

Now that you've all been made aware of those dangers, how can you travel with your pets in a vehicle and feel that ALL of you will be more safe?  Helpful Buckeye offers several really comprehensive overviews for your benefit:

Auto safety for pets

When you hit the road with your beloved furry companion, make sure they are as safe as possible.
Friends often joke that you treat your dog or cat as though it were your child. Well, when traveling with your pet in a car, that’s just the thing to do.  You don’t let your kid climb all around a moving vehicle, so why would you let that adorable pooch or kitty do so? By limiting the movement of your animal and following other tips on auto safety for pets, you will greatly increase the chances that you and your furry companion will arrive at your destination unharmed.

Never leave them alone

Perhaps the most important animal-travel tip is to NEVER leave your pet alone in a parked car. When the outside temperature is 85 degrees Fahrenheit, the interior of a parked car can reach a sizzling 102 degrees in just 10 minutes and 120 degrees within half an hour, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). And that’s even if you leave the windows cracked an inch or two. Such temperatures put your dog or cat at serious risk of death from hyperthermia.

Even if it’s a perfectly comfortable 70 degrees outside, the inside of a parked car can quickly reach 90 degrees — too hot for your furry friend. The ASPCA warns that the dangers are not limited to the warmer months: “In cold weather, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing an animal to freeze to death,” the organization says on its pet insurance web site.

No roaming in the car

You see it all the time: a dog sticking his head through a moving car’s rolled-down window. The pooch is obviously having the time of his life, but Fido’s fun can be dangerous to his health. Letting your dog ride this way could damage his inner ear and even expose him to lung infections, ASPCA says. Furthermore, he could be struck by flying debris which can seriously damage the eyes or face.

Bottom line: don’t give your dog the freedom to stick his head out of the window or otherwise roam in your car, as a moving dog (or cat) can be thrown violently if you have a wreck or suddenly stop your car. Also, a roaming pet can be a dangerous distraction to a driver. A sudden sniff of your ear or lick of your nose can be all it takes to divert your attention from the road for too long. Approximately 30,000 accidents are caused each year by an UNRESTRAINED DOG SITTING IN THE FRONT SEAT, according to the American Automobile Association.

 The ASPCA recommends that you place your dog (or cat) in a “well-ventilated crate or carrier” that gives your pet just enough room to stand up and turn around. Besides limiting a pet’s movements, crates and carriers also provide protection in the event of a crash. For large dogs, a crate may not be an option; in these instances, restrain your dog with a harness that attaches to the car’s seat belts. Although they don’t provide the degree of crash protection as crates, harnesses can at least limit your pet’s movements and prevent him from suddenly bolting from the vehicle when you open the car door or the door is thrown open in a crash.

Hitting the road

When taking a road trip with your pet, make sure you have a gallon of cold water with you to keep your dog or cat sufficiently hydrated, the ASCPA urges. And be prepared to make regular stops: the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says you should stop every two to three hours to allow your dog to use the bathroom and get some exercise. The AVMA also recommends keeping a familiar blanket or toy by your pet to help it feel more comfortable during the drive.

Before embarking on a long trip, you should take some shorter drives around town with your pet to see how he responds, says Dr. Meg Wright, a veterinarian with the Powers Ferry Animal Hospital in Atlanta. “Is he anxious? Does he get car sick?” she says. “These are things you want to find out. In these cases, your vet may be able to prescribe a light sedative.”

By taking the above steps, you can ensure that car travel with your pet is as safe and enjoyable as possible.

Adapted from:
Some more suggestions:
Car Travel Tips

Top 10 Tips for Safe Car Travel With Your Pet

For some pet parents, a trip's no fun if the four-legged members of the family can't come. But traveling can be highly stressful, both for you and your animal companions. With thoughtful preparation, you can ensure a safe and comfortable trip for everyone.

Planning a road trip? Traveling with a pet involves more than just loading the animal in the back seat and motoring off—especially if you will be driving long distances or plan to be away for a long time. The ASPCA offers the following tips to help you prepare for a safe and smooth car trip:

1. Keep your pets safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. There are a variety of wire mesh, hard plastic and soft-sided carriers available. Whatever you choose, make sure it's large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. And P.S., it's smart to get your pet used to the carrier in the comfort of your home before your trip.  Also, feel around the inside of the carrier to be sure there aren't any sharp edges that might injure your pet. 

2. Get your pet geared up for a long trip by taking him on a series of short drives first, gradually lengthening time spent in the car. And remember to always secure the crate so it won't slide or shift in the event of a quick stop.

3. Your pet's travel-feeding schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours prior to departure. Don't feed your furry friend in a moving vehicle—even if it is a long drive.

4. Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace in no time, and heatstroke can develop. In cold weather, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

5. What in your pet's traveling kit? In addition to travel papers (health records), food, bowl, leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication and a pet first-aid kit, pack a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity.

6. Make sure your pet has a microchip for identification and wears a collar with a tag imprinted with your home address, as well as a temporary travel tag with your cell phone, destination phone number and any other relevant contact information. Canines should wear flat (never choke!) collars, please.

7. Don't allow your pet to ride with his head outside the window. He could be injured by flying objects. And please keep him in the back seat in his crate or with a harness attached to a seat buckle.

8. Traveling across state lines? Bring along your pet's rabies vaccination record, as some states requires this proof at certain interstate crossings. While this generally isn't a problem, it's always smart to be on the safe side.

9. When it comes to H2O, we say BYO. Opt for bottled water or tap water stored in plastic jugs. Drinking water from an area he's not used to could result in tummy upset for your pet.

10. If you travel frequently with your pet, you may want to invest in rubberized floor liners and waterproof seat covers, available at auto product retailers.

And, finally, these last tips:
10 tips for road-tripping with your dog

by Elizabeth Seward

There are rules for the road and there are rules for the road if you're on the road with your canine friend and so, I present to you, 10 tips for road-tripping with your dog. My husband and I returned to Austin a few days ago after spending 38 days straight on the road. It was just us, our new loft-bed-outfitted minivan, and our 6 month old puppy when we took off from our house on November 21st. This was our first time taking our dog, Fiona, out of town. She had never spent more than 30 consecutive minutes in the car prior to this trip and we weren't sure how she'd take to the road. Fortunately for us, she seems to have taken after us. Apparently a bit of a wanderlust herself, little Fiona braved the road (and the cold snow for the first time) during those 38 days. She turned 7 months old and then 8 months old while we were, largely, living out of our van. She did so admirably and I have come home with 10 solid tips for those of you who love road-tripping but also prefer to take your dog with you when you travel.

1. Visit the vet before you go.

It's important that your dog is in good health if you're going to expect your dog to behave well and enjoy a road-trip, particularly if it's a lengthy one. Take your dog to the vet before you hit the road. Make sure your dog has all vaccinations he or she might need, depending on where you're traveling to on your trip. A Rabies vaccination is an especially important one. Not only will you be stopped from crossing borders without proof of an up-to-date Rabies vaccination, but you put your dog at great risk if he or she doesn't have one or is due for a new shot. While you're at the vet, purchase any medication your pet may need. As a courtesy to dog-friendly hotels as well as to your dog, it's a good idea to get a new batch of flea and worm preventative medicine going before your dog is on the road with you. If your dog hasn't been spayed or neutered and you're open to the idea, this is a good time to move forward with the procedure and save yourself and other dog owners from the hassle of an unexpected doggy pregnancy. The vet can also insert a microchip under your dog's skin. Our dog was a rescue and the rescue company inserted one of these before we adopted her. While having her on the road, continually in different cities, this little chip certainly eased my mind.

2. Take a trip to the pet store.

Depending on where you're going on your trip, your dog may need all sorts of things that you wouldn't ordinarily have around. Make sure you have a supply of food large enough to last through your entire trip, unless you think you'll be in places where you can find refills. Complement this with a healthy snack for your dog, which you'll find handy if your dog is feeling anxious from the road or simply deserves a treat. We bought our dog a robust rope toy for the road to give her something new to focus on while spending extended hours in the car. If you don't already have a car crate for your dog, consider purchasing one. It's important that your dog's riding situation is as safe as it can be--for both you and the pup (if you slam on your brakes and your dog comes flying toward the driver's seat, it's likely to worsen the incident and perhaps cause an avoidable accident). Consider the climate of where you're going. Since our dog is a short-haired Whippet/Catahoula mix who had never seen snow before this trip, we bought her a warm coat. She hated it, but it kept her from shivering while we walked her around the bitter cold in Minneapolis. While at the pet store, you can also consider buying a new leash, collar, doggy first aid kit, nail clipper, a bright orange vest if you'll be out in the woods during hunting season, and, my personal favorite, the FURminator (it's a relatively expensive dog brush, but it will keep the upholstery in your car and luggage more hair-free than any other brush or technique I've found).

3. Prepare a comfort zone for your dog.

My theory was this: Fiona is going to be exposed to countless new places, people, and experiences on this trip. She needs a comfort zone, a safe place, that is just for her--somewhere she can go to feel calm and relish in the familiar. We made this place her car crate, which is, I think, the most practical thing to do. We filled the crate with a blanket from home we no longer needed, her favorite toys, and, admittedly, tons of treats at first (hey, we wanted her to love it). We even had a battery-powered night light near the crate at first so that she wouldn't be in total blackness throughout all of the hours of driving through the night we did. The main point here though is that your dog feels as though he or she has a place in the car--a familiar zone.

4. Pack your car wisely.

If you're getting ready to go on a road-trip, especially a long one, you know as well as anyone that there's only so much space in your vehicle for your belongings. As for us, our car was packed to the brim when we set out. To complicate it further, we had a bike and bike rack on the back of our car (we were bringing a bike to a friend as a favor), which made it difficult to open and close the back door without careful consideration. You'll need your dog's go-to items nearby--not packed deep in a piece of luggage beneath piles of luggage. Items to keep near you: a supply of plastic bags, towels for dirty paws, food, water, food and water dishes, leash, any medication, papers, nail clippers, brush, and anything else you deem important. As a general rule of thumb, if it's out of reach, you probably won't bother using it. We wound up creating an entire 'Fiona' bag and keeping it at the edge of the car's trunk area.

5. Evaluate your route carefully.

Many factors go into road-tripping with your dog and a big factor is location. Where are you going? If you're crossing the border in certain parts of Ontario, any Pitbull-looking dog can not only be refused entry into Canada, but I've read that this breed can actually be taken from owners and euthanized. Read up on Pitbulls in Ontario. Pitbull owners need to be especially careful because of Pitbull bans like the Pitbull ban in Denver, Colorado. Where you're going on your trip will also determine which vaccinations are necessary and what kind of climate you can expect. While traveling with your dog isn't usually complicated by regional jurisdictions, it can be. Make sure you know the laws of the land for you and your dog before you travel.

6. Research your destinations.

Once you know where you're going, you can further research the area. The Yelp iPhone app on our cell phone helped us get through our road trip with Fiona immensely. When we needed to take her to a vet in Minneapolis, Yelp pointed us in the direction of a highly rated but still affordable vet just a few miles down the road from where we were staying. He was great with her and with us and the experience certainly could have been more sour had we simply taken her to the nearest vet without doing any research. The app also helped us to locate dog parks as we traveled and other dog-friendly areas. We kept her exercising and socializing along the way because of this, which helped her to sleep more soundly when it was time to jump back in the car. A little bit of research can give you a go-to mental or actual list of vets, dog parks, pet stores, and pet-friendly hotels and other destinations.

7. Avoid stressing your dog out.

A stressed out dog is, often times, a difficult to manage dog. Try your best to avoid stressing your dog out. Turn off the speakers in the back of your car if your dog is back there. Remember that sounds affect dogs much more acutely than they do humans. If your dog is naturally anxious in the car, consider giving your dog doggy Valerian Root. It's all-natural and can be crushed up into your dog's food for a calming effect. Make sure your dog can sleep in his or her environment (ie, if you dog vomits inside the crate, by all means, clean up the mess before expecting the dog to go back in the crate and soundly sleep). Do not leave your dog unattended in the car for any period of time. A warm day will mean a very hot car interior.  Avoid sporadic changes in your driving when possible. The fewer times you slam on the brakes, speed up quickly, honk your horn, etc., the better.

8. Exercise your dog.

Many problems I hear about between dog owners and their dogs are simple cases of lack of exercise. Your dog needs to be exercised to be happy, fair and square. Just like humans, dogs need regular exercise. If you don't regularly exercise yourself, it's still your duty as a dog owner to regularly exercise your dog. This is even more important on the road since your dog will be spending much of his or her time cramped up in the car crate. Stop at rest stops. Most of them have a pet area and some of them even have elaborate trails for dog walking. Instead of standing still, waiting for your dog to do his or her deeds, jog with your dog. It will get your heart racing and help your dog to travel well in the car if you do this every 2-3 hours at rest stops. On top of this, locate dog parks when you can. An exercised dog is a happy dog, remember that.

9. Keep a consistent schedule.

It's not always easy to keep a consistent schedule while road-tripping--it was difficult for us. Road-tripping is unpredictable. Accidents, traffic, bad weather, the sudden urge to drive all night, the coming and going of new people and places--by definition, your schedule probably isn't very consistent while you're on the road. But dogs love consistency and familiarity. If you can only consistently do one or two things a day, do them! Feed your dog at the same times or walk your dog for 15 minutes every morning. Whatever it is, give your dog something to rely on as a standard part of everyday life and, I'm just conjecturing based off of our experience, your dog will have an easier time adjusting to the road.

10. Reward your dog.

Being a well-behaved road dog, especially during the first road trip, is no easy feat for any dog. Use positive reinforcement to encourage your dog's good behaviors. Have treats around to give your dog when he or she has behaved well in the car. Use the phrase 'Good boy', 'Good girl', or 'Good dog' every time they are appropriate. Dogs generally understand the word good and they like it. Why? Because dogs want to know when they're doing a good job. Let your dog know when he or she is behaving well through treats, exercise, and positive reinforcement and your dog will want to continue behaving well.

OK, I know there has been some repetition in these articles but...that's a good thing because all of it is important if you want to have a successful and safe road trip with your pet.


Now it's time to be concerned about Ohio State's basketball team.  They've lost a game on 3 consecutive weekends...and 2 of those were at home.  The players are still exhibiting poor shot selections and Helpful Buckeye is starting to think there might also be a problem with the coaching.  If the coaches can't get our star players to get more into the offensive flow, we're not going to go into the NCAA tournament with much confidence.

As Helpful Buckeye and a friend discussed the pros and cons of using GPS for directions this past week in Las Vegas, the words of Jimmy Buffett came to mind:

“The best navigators are not always certain where they are, but they are always aware of their uncertainty.”  Billy Cruiser, in Where Is Joe Merchant?, by Jimmy Buffett

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

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