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Traveling with Your Pet

Traveling with your pet can be rewarding but challenging if not enough preparation has been made. Planning will help your trip go smoother and should include acquiring any paperwork that is needed, consideration of the temperatures to be experienced and how to deal with them, and obtaining equipment that will make the trip easier.

It is a good idea to first consult with your veterinarian. Make sure your pet is current on all vaccinations. Ask your pet’s doctor about the region to which you will be traveling and whether there are any diseases that require additional vaccines, i.e. Lyme or Lepto, or other measures, i.e. heartworm preventative. It is important your pet have identification; make sure the tag on the collar is current and the printing is legible. Your veterinarian should also implant a microchip into your pet as a form of permanent identification because collars can be lost easily.

Whether traveling by car or plane, you will need to take the current rabies certificate, a list of all other vaccines, and the microchip number. There is a law (rarely enforced), that any animal crossing a state line, by any means of transportation, needs a health certificate, with your veterinarian performing the exam within 30 days. Airlines do require a health certificate; most ask the exam be performed within 10 days of the flight. If your stay exceeds 10 days, you may need a second exam and health certificate for your return flight.

Not all airlines accept pets either in the cargo space or in the passenger section. You will need to call and ask for a reservation. If your pet will fit in a soft-sided crate that will fit under the seat ahead of you, it is better for your pet to travel in the passenger section. If the airline does accept pets, they usually will take only two per plane in the passenger section and they require one person to be traveling for each pet, i.e., one person can’t take two pets.

If your pet is flying in the cargo section, get a direct flight if possible, as the most critical time is not while flying, but at layovers. If there is no direct flight, you should plan your routing considering the environmental temperature of the city and time of the layover. For example, you should not plan a layover at 2pm in Phoenix, Arizona in July. While we worry more about heat than cold, if you have a choice, you may not want to schedule a layover in Minneapolis in January.
It is recommended to not tranquilize your pet, especially if it is flying in the cargo section. The pet needs to be able to react to its environment. It needs to shiver if it is too cold, or pant if it is too hot. More pets die as a result of being tranquilized during a flight than not.

You should obtain a crate that is sturdy and made for airline travel. The crate should have a towel or absorbent pad on the bottom. It is better to not have any food in the crate, as eating may stimulate defecation. A water source is a good idea, especially a water container that can’t spill like a licker bottle.

If you are traveling to more exotic locations, such as Hawaii or another country, you will need to apply for special permits, and you may need to start planning as much as six months ahead of the trip. The testing requirements and paperwork can be quite extensive. You may want to contract with one of the pet moving companies.

If you are traveling by car, it is a good idea to keep your pet in a crate or restrain them with a pet seat belt. It is dangerous for them to be loose in the car in the case of a sudden stop, and it is distracting for the driver. You will need to pack all their necessities: food, bowls, toys, plastic bags, and a good leash. Pets can easily escape from the car, so make sure the leash is attached before the car door is opened. A handy item to have is a travel water bowl that can be folded and easily carried. Some people find that their pet is sensitive to water from other sources and will take a large container of water with them.

Traveling with your pet can be lots of fun as more and more facilities are becoming pet friendly. Planning can help your trip proceed smoothly. If you have any questions, your veterinarian can help you.

The Pet Economy

If there’s still any doubt whether the pampering of pets is getting out of hand, the debate should be settled once and for all by Neuticles, a patented testicular implant that sells for up to $919 a pair. The idea, says inventor Gregg A. Miller, is to “let people restore their pets to anatomical preciseness” after neutering, thereby allowing them to retain their natural look and self-esteem. “People thought I was crazy when I started 13 years ago,” says the Oak Grove (Mo.) entrepreneur. But he has since sold more than 240,000 pairs (a few of which went on prairie dogs, water buffalo, and monkeys). “Neutering is creepy. But with Neuticles, it’s like nothing has changed.” Nothing, except there’s a fake body part where a real one used to be.

Americans now spend $41 billion a year on their pets-more than the gross domestic product of all but 64 countries in the world. That’s double the amount shelled out on pets a decade ago, with annual spending expected to hit $52 billion in the next two years, according to Packaged Facts, a consumer research company based in Rockville, Md. That puts the yearly cost of buying, feeding, and caring for pets in excess of what Americans spend on the movies ($10.8 billion), playing video games ($11.6 billion), and listening to recorded music ($10.6 billion) combined. “People are no longer satisfied to reward their pet in pet terms,” argues Bob Vetere, president of the American Pet Products Manufacturers Assn. (APPMA). “They want to reward their pet in human terms.” That means hotels instead of kennels, braces to fix crooked teeth, and frilly canine ball gowns. Pet owners are becoming increasingly demanding consumers who won’t put up with substandard products, unstimulating environments, or shoddy service for their animals. But the escalating volume and cost of services, especially in the realm of animal medicine, raises ethical issues about how far all this loving should go.

It wasn’t so very long ago that the phrase “a dog’s life” meant sleeping outside, enduring the elements, living with aches, and sitting by the dinner table, waiting for a few scraps to land on the floor. Today’s dog has it much better. APPMA reports that 42% of dogs now sleep in the same bed as their owners, up from 34% in 1998. Their menu reflects every fad in human food-from locally sourced organic meat and vegan snacks to gourmet meals bolstered by, say, glucosamine to ward off stiff joints. Half of all dog owners say they consider their pet’s comfort when buying a car, and almost a third buy gifts for their dogs’ birthdays. Richard G. Wolford, chairman and CEO of Del Monte Foods Co. (DLM ), refuses even to use the word “owner.” “Anyone who has a pet understands who owns whom,” says Wolford, who is owned by two Jack Russell terriers. His company’s pet business has gone from nothing to 40% of overall sales through acquisitions of brands such as Meow Mix and Milk-Bone in the past five years.

The rising status of pets has started an unprecedented wave of entrepreneurship in an industry once epitomized by felt mice and rubber balls. There are now $430 indoor potties, $30-an-ounce perfume, and $225 trench coats aimed solely at four-footed consumers and their wallet-toting companions. Even those who shun animal couture are increasingly willing to spend thousands on drugs for depression or anxiety in pets, as well as psychotherapy, high-tech cancer surgery, cosmetic procedures, and end-of-life care. About 77% of dogs and 52% of cats have been medicated in the past year, according to APPMA, an increase of about 20 percentage points from 1996. Some spending can be spurred by vets who find such services more lucrative than giving shots or ending a pet’s life when it contracts a painful or terminal disease.

GRAVY TRAIN
Once acquired as sidekicks for kids, animal companions are more popular now with empty-nesters, single professionals, and couples who delay having children. What unites these disparate demographic groups is a tendency to have time and resources to spare. With more people working from home or living away from their families, pets also play a bigger role in allaying the isolation of modern life. About 63% of U.S. households, or 71 million homes, now own at least one pet, up from 64 million just five years ago. And science is starting to validate all those warm feelings with research that documents the depth of the human-animal bond.

It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that there’s money to be made in this environment. Companies from Procter & Gamble (PG ) and Nestlé (NSRGY ) to fashion brands including Polo Ralph Lauren (RL ) and thousands of small entrepreneurs are sniffing around for new opportunities in the pet sector. After consumer electronics, pet care is the fastest-growing category in retail, expanding about 6% a year. More new pet products were launched in the first six months of last year than in all of 2005. And that doesn’t account for the ways existing products are being recast to woo pet lovers. Del Monte has refocused staples to look more like human snacks-from Snausages breakfast treats shaped like bacon and eggs to Pup-Peroni rib snacks so appetizing that Wolford had to stop a TV anchor from popping one into his mouth on air. Even Meow Mix now comes in plastic cups rather than cans.

The typical target of such products is a pet lover like Graham Gemoets, a caterer in Houston, who showers luxuries on his beloved “chi weenie” (Chihuahua/dachshund mix), Bradford. “He’s my best friend and my best-accessorized friend,” says Gemoets, whose splurges for Bradford include a $1,200 Hermès collar and leash, as well as $500 Chanel pearls for parties. “I know it’s crazy, but I’ve had him for five years, and if you priced it out per month, it’s like a phone bill.”

Thanks to passionate consumers like that, the quality gap between two-legged and four-legged mammals is rapidly disappearing in such industries as food, clothing, health care, and services. The race now is to provide animals with products and services more closely modeled after the ones sold to humans. Most of the pet business world’s attention is directed at the country’s 88 million cats and 75 million dogs. The reason is simple. As Philip L. Francis, CEO of PetSmart Inc. (PETM ), the world’s largest pet specialty retailer, explains: “You can’t train a fish or groom a snake.”

PetSmart, for one, has shifted its mission from being the top seller of pet food to helping consumers become better “pet parents.” Along with making his 928 retail locations homier and hosting pet parties, Francis is rolling out blue-shingled “pet hotels” (kennels) in his stores. They feature private suites with raised platform beds and TVs airing shows from Animal Planet for $31 a night, as well as “bone booths,” where pets can take calls from their owners, and porous pebble floors where dogs can pee. Cats get live fish tanks to watch in their rooms and separate air filtration systems so their scents dont drive the dogs crazy. The hotels, along with services such as grooming, training, and in-store hospitals, have helped PetSmart expand its service business from essentially nothing in 2000 to $450 million, or 10% of overall sales, this year. Pet owners are now less driven by price than “emotion and passion,” says Francis, who shares a bed with his wife and their mutt, Bit o’ Honey.

Those are the same primal urges that drive the fashion world. Mario DiFante, who staged New York’s first Pet Fashion Week last August, has an elevated view of the place of dogs and cats in the family hierarchy. As he puts it: “Many of us consider pets as the new babies.” That means clothing furry little ones in an ever-expanding range of sweaters, raincoats, leather jackets, and dresses. For Lara Alameddine, co-founder of Little Lily, a better word might be “babes.” Her four-year-old company clears $1 million a year selling products including doggie slippers, bikinis, and even canine versions of Oscar-night gowns. It’s popular with celebrity dog owners such as Paris Hilton, who often dresses up her Chihuahua, Tinkerbell. “We’re catering to the owner’s sense of style,” says Alameddine. “There are no bones on our clothes.”

Pet products now aim to make people feel they’re being extra good to their little ones-much as toymakers have long encouraged parents to spoil kids. Along with doggie spas, there are mobile pet-grooming vans, pedicure services, professional dog walkers, and massage therapy for animals. Trainers like Cesar Millan-better known to millions as the Dog Whisperer-find that their expertise is suddenly in greater demand. Along with having the No. 1 series on the National Geographic Channel, Millan boasts best-selling books, DVDs, a line of products, and his famous Dog Psychology Center of Los Angeles that’s a favorite with Hollywood clientele (see BusinessWeek.com, 7/27/07, “A Short Leash on Pet Luxuries?”).

The growing willingness of owners to spare no expense for their animals has also made the outsourcing of the yucky aspects a burgeoning business. More than 350 service agencies with names such as Doody Duty, Scoopy-Poo, and Pooper Trooper have sprung up solely to relieve owners of the need even to pick up a pet’s waste in their yard by doing it for them. With annual growth nearing 50%, “the pooper scooper industry is now experiencing a lot of consolidation,” says Jacob D’Aniello of DoodyCalls, which has 20 locations nationwide.

But few parts of the business have seen as much diversification and expansion as the pet food business. As with humans, there’s a growing concern about the nutrition, taste, and even ethical standards of what goes into a pet’s stomach. Owners increasingly mirror their own preferences-for vegetarian cuisine, kosher meals, and even locally sourced food-in feeding their pets. And when things go wrong, the reaction is as explosive as if the victims were children. Consumers were outraged by a massive recall of melamine-contaminated pet food that killed or sickened thousands of U.S. cats and dogs. Because pets are now such valued members of the family, says Duane Ekedahl, president of the Pet Food Institute, “it had a higher impact than maybe it would have had 10 years ago.”

As food becomes a more emotionally charged issue for people, owners are more inclined to get emotional about what’s on their pets’ menu. Witness the growth of what one industry executive calls the “Godiva-ization” of food, with a demand for meats fit for human consumption, visible vegetables, and nutritional supplements. It has become common to reach for a canine or cat equivalent of ketchup, such as Iams Co.’s (PG ) popular “savory sauce” for dogs that comes in Country Chicken, Savory Bacon, and Roasted Beef flavor-descriptions that are, needless to say, lost on the actual consumer.

THOROUGHLY VETTED
Fancy food products are easy targets for critics of indulgent pet owners. But a far more controversial issue is animal medicine, especially at a time of urgent national debate about human health care. Americans now spend $9.8 billion a year on vet services. That doesn’t include the over-the-counter drugs and other supplies, which add $9.9 billion in costs.

The annual compound growth rate for core veterinary services alone has been about 10% over the past decade, and the menu of services is becoming more elaborate by the month. Much of the inflation in pet care is due to medical advances that have people digging deep for everything from root canals for aging cats to cancer surgery for rabbits. “There has been an evolution of the entire profession,” says Tom Carpenter, president of the American Animal Hospital Assn. “Pocket pets and animals who wouldn’t even have been taken to vets now go for regular visits.”

Suzanne Kramer of Chicago spent close to $380 on vet visits and drugs to treat a tumor in her hamster, Biffy, before he died last year. “Some might say: Well, he’s just a hamster,’ but I loved him,” says Kramer. Barbara Miers of Rochester, N.Y., also took her son’s hamster, Henry, to a vet and bought antibiotics for a tumor, even though the animal was nearing the end of his life span and died shortly after the final treatment. For Miers, the issue had parallels to human health. As she puts it: “Do you not give old people health care because they’re old?”

No wonder “it’s a good time to be in our profession,” as Carpenter says. A vet’s job has become more wide-ranging and thus more lucrative. There are even animal grief counselors to help families cope with the demise of beloved pets. Not only is state-of-the-art technology such as magnetic resonance imaging, with costs that range around $1,500 a scan, now available in small-town labs, but consumers’ expectations of medical care have been transformed. They want the same best-in-class care for their pets that they want for themselves.

That’s creating a market for new products like Pfizer Inc.’s (PFE ) dog-obesity drug Slentrol, which will cost $1 to $2 a day. Reconcile, a new drug from Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY ) for “canine separation anxiety,” is based on the active ingredients in Prozac. Lilly has not suggested a retail price for Reconcile, and vets have a lot of latitude in deciding how much to charge for it. Overall, sales of pet health products have grown at a compound annual growth rate of 8.8% in recent years, more than double the rate in the late 1990s.

There’s little doubt that human-quality care has helped to extend radically the life span of pets. Dogs routinely live 12 to 14 years now, a big jump from the average a few decades ago. John Payne, acting CEO of Banfield, the Pet Hospital, likes to boast that his cat, Gizmo, stayed perky until he died last November at the advanced age of 23 1/2.. More than 60% of new customers of his chain, which has more than 600 locations nationwide, enroll their pets in wellness plans. One reason is that standard pet insurance often doesn’t cover preventive care. While pet insurance is still in its infancy, with 1% of owners having coverage, the number of clients is growing by double digits each year. Jamie Ward invested in a $25.77-a-month plan with Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) for her American Staffordshire terrier, Loki, only to discover that it didn’t cover any of the $2,000 in expenses for a kneecap injury. (VPI says it abided by the terms of the contract.)

The ever-expanding roster of drugs and treatment can run into tens of thousands of dollars in expenses, creating a dilemma for owners. Steve Zane of Hoboken, N.J., choked slightly when a veterinarian presented him and his wife, Lily, an estimate of $3,700 to help cure liver failure in their cat, Koogle, over Christmas. “We looked at each other and said: Well, he’s family,'” recalls Zane, a graphic designer who’s still paying off the final bill for the recovered cat. “If it had been $15,000, I think we would almost have had to say no.”

The anthropomorphization of pets has also created the perception that they have human problems such as separation anxiety and depression. While a number of vets say such issues are real, especially just after the death of a dog’s four-footed chum or the removal of puppies, others say it simply creates yet more opportunities for new products. Americans are expected to spend 52% more on medicines to treat their pets this year than they spent five years ago. Drugmakers love the category because, compared with human drugs, there’s less risk of liability, less competition, and less pressure to switch to generics because so few consumers carry pet insurance. Even so, Dawn M. Boothe, a professor of clinical physiology and pharmacology in the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, argues that “the recovery of costs” for drug companies may take a long time as people may scoff at pricey treatments for pets.

Much of the attention is going to the growing problem of pet obesity. As many as 40% of dogs are estimated to be overweight or obese, with similarly high rates among cats, thanks to the indulgent habits of their owners. Being plied with carob bonbons all day while getting rolled around in an all-terrain stroller (retail price: about $210) is not an ideal lifestyle for any animal. People who overeat or don’t get enough exercise tend to draw their pets into the same behavior, vets say, and the growing inclination to regale pets with treats has come at a cost to their waistline. Along with creating interest in new anti- obesity drugs, it’s prompting interest in diet pet food. It has also created a market for procedures including pet liposuction, which is becoming more common in cities like Los Angeles where owners are used to getting nips and tucks for themselves.

And for some pet lovers, no medical procedure is too extreme. Plastic surgeons offer rhinoplasty, eye lifts, and other cosmetic procedures to help tone down certain doggy features, from droopy eyes to puggish noses. Root canals, braces, and even crowns for chipped teeth are also becoming more popular.

Some might question whether all this primping and pampering of pets has the makings of a bubble that could have owners telling Fido to get his own damn bone once the economy takes a turn. After all, Paola Freccero admits that when she grew up in Massachusetts, “Pets were pets. You didn’t dress them, you didn’t feed them special food, you didn’t take them to play dates.” But thanks to the advice of her vet and what she read on the Internet, she wouldn’t serve up anything but the best for her puggle (pug/beagle mix), Lucy, including treats at $2 apiece. And from the moment Eric Olander paid $500 for a plane ticket to get a stray chow chow mix from Atlanta to his home in Los Angeles, the dog has been a focal point of his life. “I call him my 401(k) with paws,” he says, “because that’s where all my money goes.”

Having a Positive Experience at the Dog Park

Dog parks: they are great for socialization, exercise, and mental stimulation for many dogs. But certain dogs may feel threatened or anxious. Whether you and your dog have a good dog park experience or a bad one depends largely on your understanding of your dog, advanced preparation, proper training, and good etiquette.

Know Your Dog’s Temperament

Is your dog usually playful and sociable? Does she get along well with other dogs, or can she be aggressive? Is your dog nervous or shy around other dogs? Animal welfare groups say to let your dog’s temperament guide you on visiting a dog park1—or whether you should opt for other activities instead.

Preparation and Training

National veterinary associations urge dog owners to ensure dogs are trained well enough to come when called at a dog park, even in spite of all of the other enticing distractions at the park.2 Ask your veterinarian about a good dog training class in your area and make sure your dog learns how to focus exclusively on you when you issue a command, especially when other dogs are present. This is crucial if you need to call your dog away from an escalating situation.

Good Etiquette

Being pounced, sideswiped without warning, or having a bunch of high-energy dogs come at you like a speeding train can scare certain dogs, as well as people. Train your dog to greet other dogs and people politely. Also, be present while your dog is playing so that you can interrupt if your dog becomes aggressive, involved in ganging up on another dog, or if your dog becomes the target of an attack.3

Not all dogs enjoy the dog park, and that is all right. Toy breeds should avoid dog parks altogether because their size can make them an attack target for larger dogs. Sometimes a walk around the neighborhood, a game of Frisbee in the backyard, or a smaller play group with dogs your dog already feels comfortable with is a better option.

Sources:

1. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, staff: Pet Care: “Dog Parks”
2. Yin, Sophia, DVM, MS, The Art and Science of Animal Behavior, “Dog Park Etiquette Poster”
3. Association of Professional Dog Trainers, Dog Park Information: “Dog Park Tips”
4. Association of Professional Dog Trainers, Dog Park Information: “Dog Park Etiquette”

Get Down With Your Dog

Each year fifteen million Americans engage in the practice of yoga. Many of the same Americans own some of the over seventy-three million dogs owned in the United States. If you put yoga and dogs together, you get doga (pronounced DOH-gah). Doga is sweeping the nation including large American cities and small towns. Doga provides a unique opportunity for humans to calm and focus themselves while working on improving their flexibility and while sharing the experience with man’s best friend.

So what really is doga? Simply explained doga is when humans and dogs work together in relaxing and calming poses originally thought to only be practiced by humans. If you watch the movements your dog makes on a daily basis, you will see how dogs are natural yogis.

After much study, human yogis (yogis are people who engage in the practice of yoga) started to notice their pets would always stretch and position themselves in certain ways before and after naps or during playtime with other dogs. Watching closely, people realized dogs were natural yogis, always stretching themselves before engaging in new activities.

The nice part about doga is that anyone can participate. Most dogs just love the interaction with their human. When attending a class in a studio, dogs take the chance and opportunity to visit each and every mat and meet new dogs and their owners.

To share the experience of yoga with your dog, all you need is a yoga mat and a dog! Start by leaving your yoga mat out in the open where your dog can investigate the mat, smell it, feel it, and even lay on it. After your dog feels comfortable on the mat, go ahead and join them. Your canine companion might not understand at first what it is you are doing but soon you will both find a way to incorporate each other into the poses.

In the all famous “Downward Facing Dog Pose” many dogs will simply lay on the mat under their owners, looking up for an occasional kiss on the face. Other poses such as the triangle pose, where the human is standing in a wide stance with one arm reaching up and the second arm is used to for balance, so now is a great opportunity to use the trusty canine companion as a prop to balance themselves while gently rubbing their pet.

Dogs love doga because they are given 45 minutes to an hour of undivided attention from their human. When going to a yoga studio for yoga, there is also the car ride to and from the studio, which most dogs love! There is also the opportunity to meet new dogs and their humans. Humans love doga because of the unique bonding experience they share with their pet.

Whether an experienced yogi, or just a beginner, go ahead and give doga a chance! There is no right or wrong way to do doga as long as you and your dog are relaxed and calm while enjoying some good stretching!

Protect Your Pets with These Water Safety Tips

Protect Your Pets with These Water Safety Tips

There’s nothing better than cooling off in a pool, lake or the ocean on a hot day, particularly if you wear a fur coat year-round. Unfortunately, our pets aren’t aware of the dangers that water can pose. A few precautions can help you ensure that your pet enjoys the water safely this summer.

Can Your Pet Swim?

All dogs are not natural swimmers. Some dogs, and most cats, don’t even like the water. If you encourage your dog to enter the water without verifying swimming skills, you may need to perform an emergency rescue. Test your dog’s skills by following these steps:

  • Encourage your furry friend to step into a few inches of water in a lake or kiddie pool. If you try the test in a lake, use a leash so that your pet can be quickly reached if necessary.
  • Pay attention to your pet’s reaction. If it’s positive, add a few more inches to the pool or venture a little farther in the lake. Use treats or a clicker to encourage your furry friend to venture into deeper water. If your dog strongly dislikes the experience, try again on another day. Forcing him or her into the water may only create a fear of water.
  • Evaluate your pet’s swimming skills. If your dog seems comfortable, walk farther into the water until it’s deep enough for your pet to swim. Your dog will begin paddling with all four paws if he or she can swim. If your pet doesn’t automatically move the back paws, gently move them to demonstrate the proper technique. It’s a good idea to put a special pet life jacket on your pet before this step.
  • Even if your pet can swim, he or she may need a little instruction in making turns, rather than just swimming in a straight line. Keep your pet in a life jacket until you are confident that he or she has strong swimming skills.

Follow These Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe

If you live or play near the water, pet water safety is particularly important. Follow these tips to prevent accidents and injuries.

  • Use a fence around your pool. Fences keep pets and children from falling into the water when the pool is not in use.
  • Buy pool alarms that attach to your pets’ collars. If your dog or cat falls in the water, an alarm will sound in your home. Pool alarms are a good idea even if you have an indoor cat, since it only takes a second for a pet to slip through an open a door.
  • Keep a bowl of drinking water by your pool, and bring a supply of fresh water when you visit the beach or lake. Drinking chlorinated water or lake, river or ocean water can make your pet sick.
  • Always put a life jacket on your pet when you take him or her on a boat. If the boat capsizes, your pet may not be able to swim for a long period of time on his or her own.
  • Consider buying a pet water ramp for your pool or boat. These plastic ramps allow pets to easily enter and exit the water.
  • Give your pet a bath after swimming. Bathing removes chlorine that can irritate the skin and bacteria from lakes, rivers and the ocean that can make your pet sick if licked.

Surf Doggies: Teaching Your Dog to Surf is Easier Than You May Think

Want to enjoy your favorite beach activity with your pet? Try these tips.

  • Use a surfboard with a foam top, as it’s easier for pets to grip these types of boards.
  • Place a life jacket on your dog, then coax him or her on to the surfboard while it’s on the sand. Give the sit/stay command.
  • Ask your dog to sit/stay on the surfboard in a few inches of calm water. Pull the board into deeper water to help your pet adjust to the feeling of being on the board in the water.
  • Catch a wave in waist-deep water. Look for waves that have already broken and are beginning to foam. Push the surfboard into the wave and watch your dog enjoy the ride.
  • Move out a little farther in the water and help your dog catch the bigger waves. Don’t move into deeper water unless it’s obvious that your pet is comfortable surfing in shallow water. Before long, your furry friend may be ready to enter a dog surfing competition!

Sources:

Water Safety Magazine: Pet Safety Tips, 6/4/12

http://www.watersafetymagazine.com/pet-water-safety-tips/

WebMD: Dogs and Water Safety

http://pets.webmd.com/pets-water-safety

San Antonio Humane Society: Water Safety

http://sahumane.org/news/animal-resources/pet-care-tips/water-safety

Skamper-Ramp: Home Page

http://www.skamper-ramp-store.com/

DogsLife: Teach Your Dog to Surf, 6/27/14

http://www.dogslife.com.au/dog-news/dog-training/teach-dog-surf

Surf Dog USA: Teaching Your Dog to Surf

http://www.surfdogsusa.com/teach-your-dog-to-surf.html

Camping With Your Pets

Camping is an increasingly popular activity for families and their pets. Many dogs and some cats enjoy traveling with their families. Here are a few tips to help make your pet’s adventure into the great outdoors a success.

Research the campground or area that you are planning on visiting. Not all campgrounds accept pets and many wilderness areas have leash laws for dogs. It would be better to find out ahead of time if your destination has any restrictions on visiting pets.

Make sure that your pet’s vaccines are up to date. Most of your pet’s vaccines are to protect him from diseases but a current rabies vaccine is a legal requirement for your pet’s safety and yours. Check with your veterinarian for any other vaccines that may be recommended based on the area that you are planning on visiting. For example, Leptospirosis and Lyme vaccines are not given routinely by all veterinarians to all dogs, but protection for these diseases may be a good idea when visiting certain areas. You should carry proof of your pet’s vaccinations.

If your pet is on any medications, be sure to bring enough for your trip and maybe a few extra in case some become damaged or lost. If your pet has any chronic medical conditions you might want to bring copies of his medical records. This will help any veterinarian make quicker and more appropriate decisions regarding your pet’s medical care.

Plan to bring enough food and water for your pet’s entire trip. Changes in diet can cause some pets to have gastrointestinal symptoms. This way you will know that any diarrhea or stomach upset that occurs will not be from a new kind of diet. Don’t assume that river, lake or standing water is safe for your pet to drink. There are certain intestinal parasites, for instance, giardia and cryptosporidium, that your pet can get from drinking water in the wilderness.

Make sure that you are using year round flea and tick control on your pets. There are many diseases that are carried by these blood sucking parasites and your pet may encounter more of them out in the great outdoors.

Though not as common as dogs, cats are also joining their families camping. Remember to bring a litter box with your cat’s favorite type of litter. Some cats are very particular about their litter and a tent or RV would be unpleasant if your cat decided to find an alternative place for his bathroom. Keep your cat in a carrier when traveling and then always have him on a harness and leash when taking him outside. A frightened cat would be impossible to catch in the wilderness.

With some precautions, your pets can enjoy the outdoors as much as you do!