June 12, 2017

General Wellness & Prevention

8 tips for enjoying the great outdoors with your pets

by Aili V. Heintz, DVM

It’s that time of year again…time for camping, hiking, grilling out, and enjoying the beauty of being outdoors. I am looking forward to some warm weather and some outside time with my family…including my dog.

Unfortunately, we often forget to plan for and prepare our pets for outdoor fun. I know that I am so busy making sure that everyone has bug spray, sunscreen, and swimsuits, that I often don’t stop to think about making my dog’s summer adventures fun and safe.

Below are some tips that can help everyone (including your dog) enjoy the great outdoors!

1) Pets need bug protection, too

dog reclining in chair

Lucy relaxing at her camp site

Warm weather means that those pesky bugs, such as ticks and mosquitoes, are out in full force. These pesky bugs can cause multiple health problems for your pet ranging from Lyme disease to Heartworm disease. Make sure your pet is protected by using a flea and tick preventative like Bravecto and Heartworm prevention such as Sentinel!

2) No vacancy

If you will be camping, make sure that you call ahead or check your campground’s website to see whether animals are allowed and what there restrictions are. Some campgrounds have only specific areas where you can take your pets. Others are extremely pet-friendly and have miles of trails and swimming areas that are available to you and your pet.

The same thing goes for hotels! There are many websites you can search to find pet-friendly hotels.  Make sure your pets are welcome so that you don’t find yourself scrambling for last minute accommodations.

Doberman at the beach

Brandy at the beach

3) Look before you play

If you plan on camping, hiking, or enjoying a day at the beach, check the area carefully before letting your pet come out to play. Debris or garbage may be hazardous to your pet. Broken glass bottles or rotten food debris could cause your pet to become injured or sick.

4) Be prepared…

Bring a pet first aid kit. This kit should contain items to help you care for your pet in case of minor injuries or illness.  Useful items include Benadryl, bandaging supplies, and hydrogen peroxide.  Contact a veterinarian before administering any medications.

The kit should also include any important health information about your pet, such as  his medications or allergies.  This information will be important to veterinary staff if your pet needs to be treated in an emergency.

5) Do your homework before you go

If you are traveling away from home, do your homework.  Check to see what veterinary clinics or emergency veterinary centers are closest to where you will be staying. It is better to be prepared for an emergency and not need the information than to find yourself in need of the information and not have cell service.

6) Don’t let your pet roam!

While your dog may stay close to you at home, things can change quickly in a new environment.  All it takes it a quick visit with a porcupine or a skunk to make you wish you kept your pooch closer to you on your nature hike!

Keep an eye on your pet at all times. Your pet could easily get lost in an unfamiliar area or could stumble and fall, making it difficult for you to find him.

7) Pass the water, please

Make sure that your pet gets plenty of fresh, clean water.  Streams and lakes may seem like good sources of water, but they may carry harmful bacteria or algae.  These organisms could give your dog gastrointestinal problems like vomiting and diarrhea. You may not want to carry a water bottle on that 4-mile hike, but it is better for you and your pet if you do.

8) A little shade goes a long way

Dog in shade

Mandy taking a break in the shade

Protect your pet from the sun. Just like humans, pets can become overheated in the hot sun.  Did you know that pets can even get sunburned?

Make sure that your spot on the beach or at your campground has some shade that your pet can easily access. Better yet, if you have access to fans or air conditioning, let your faithful friend come in periodically to cool off his paws.

As you plan your family’s outdoor activities, don’t forget to accommodate your furry family members. Don’t let your vacation be ruined by an unexpected trip to the emergency veterinary clinic! A few minutes of extra planning can make your adventures healthier and happier for everyone.

Share photos of your pets enjoying the outdoors on our Facebook page! We would love to see your happy summer adventures.

Dr. Heintz and her dog, Mimi

Dr. Heintz and her dog, Mimi

Dr. Heintz  is a small and exotic animal veterinarian at Countrycare Animal Complex in Green Bay, WI. She earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign. Her passion is helping all animals, whether furry, scaly, or feathered, lead long and healthy lives.