Travel health: Words of wisdom from the veterinarian

Not saying that Rigby has her own personal physician, but there is a "doctor in the house" so to speak. A member of the family is a practicing veterinarian in Canada and we tap into her words of wisdom for keeping our dog healthy and safe.
  1. You can’t leave dogs unattended in vehicles – so plan your trip so you have provisions for an air conditioned place to take them if it’s warm. What we do: There are some national parks and attractions with kennels for your pooch to relax while you are hiking (in non-pet areas) or taking in the theme parks, etc. At Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument in southern New Mexico, there are shaded kennels (free) at the base of the trails. The Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson treated Rigby like royalty in their free, climate controlled kennel. Major resorts like Walt Disney World often have onsite kennels for overnight or daytime stays. There are even some museums and attractions that are dog friendly - we found that they welcomed dogs, as well as aliens, into the International UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico.
  2. Watch for ticks – especially in the woods and long grass. What we do: Rigby gets checked every day, especially after a romp through the woods or the tall grass. If we find a tick, the tweezers come out and it gets pulled immediately. There's tough to find when they're small, so we make sure to do a tactile check every day. But, as they say, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" - we make sure she gets the proper dose of anti-tick meds through the season (we use a product like K9 Advantix).
  3. Heartworm disease is a problem, even in the south in the winter months. What we do: Heartworm is easy to prevent - through regular testing and regular preventative medication through our vet. The Ontario Veterinary Medical Association says: "the preventive program involves giving the dog a pill or applying a solution to the skin once a month during mosquito season . . . this medication destroys the immature heartworms transmitted by the mosquitoes and stops the cycle of the parasites."
  4. If your pet suffers from anxiety, talk to your vet about medications or behaviour modification strategies. Be aware that medications may have stronger effects if you are at higher elevations. What we do: Rigby is just about as laid back as they come, so this hasn't been a problem for us. Calming routines and the chance to exercise has been our ticket to keeping her a happy traveller. Off-leash parks are a dog owner’s nirvana. Ask around and check out the page on dog-friendly destinations.

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