Out and About with Pets
It’s been summer for a while, and we are heading into fall soon. People are out and about, attending events and traveling, and pets are enjoying the outdoors with their families. How can we make sure that our pets remain safe when out and about? Of course, there are many things to think about: health, identifications, equipment, and locations.
Concerning your pet’s health when away from home, make certain that your pet is current on vaccinations and on a comprehensive parasite prevention program. New animals and places can expose your pet to intestinal worms, coccidia, distemper and kennel cough, among other problems. A current rabies vaccination is important in case your dog or cat gets stressed or frightened and bites you or another person or animal. Having a current rabies vaccination will help avoid most legal consequences related to a bite situation (animal/human or animal/animal) and in case your pet encounters wild or feral animals, can protect your pet from the fatal consequences of rabies exposure.
Identification is important any time your pet is off your premises. Since we people do not speak dog or cat language, it is important to make sure anyone will be able to find you, your pet’s guardian, and that you can prove that they (your pet) are yours, in case of an escape. Pets who are scared will run and hide even from you and it may be a while before they are willing to be returned to human society. With a collar, ID tag and rabies tag, anyone can call one of the phone numbers on the tags and start the “going home” process. A microchip registered with several databases, easily read by most veterinarians and shelters, will serve to prove your ownership under disputed circumstances. Collars can be lost or exchanged but implanted microchips are permanent.
Proper equipment for pets out on the town include great fitting harness, 6-foot leashes, portable water source and bowl, potty bags and kenneling for rides in the car. Most veterinarians do not recommend retractable leashes, which let your pet get far ahead of you and out of your direct control and protection. Retractable leashes also can wrap around trees, other citizens, and you, the owner, causing tripping, rope burns and encouraging attack on or by other pets.
Choose locations that welcome pets. Choose hotels that are open to pets stays. Have a kennel available for your pets stay in the hotel. Find dog parks that are well-maintained, fenced, uncrowded and offer separate areas for dogs of differing sizes. Unless your dog is exceptionally well socialized (unshakably good humored and well trained), keep a very close eye on your pet’s interactions with other animals and don’t forget that your pet can be very well behaved, but other animals may not be. Learn to recognize your pets body cues for discomfort, stress, and aggression. At the first sign of stiffened posture, unblinking eyes, and vocalizations/growling/upraised lips, carefully get control of your pet, and ask the other participant’s guardian to get firm control of their pet. Allen County is fortunate to have the Happy Tail Dogs Park in Iola. Give it a tryout with your dog before road-tripping.
While most of this column uses the designation “pets”, remember if you have a cat and want it to be safe outdoor citizen, all the above tips can be applied, except for the dog park recommendations. Just say no to dog parks if you are a cat.
Pets are important members of our families and good community citizens. Keep them safe and have fun.