Traveling with dogs
Lukas Pratschker leads the School of Dog in Vienna and Neunkirchen. Lukas is known for winning the RTL show „Supertalent 2013“ with his dog Falco. The professional for dog dance shows gives tips exclusively for Gebetsroither on how to travel with the dog and what to consider on hot days.
Usually the suitcase for the dogs is bigger and fuller than mine. But since I always want to be well prepared for everything, the following things can be found on our packing list: First-aid kit for the dog (also tablets against diarrhoea, bandages to connect cuts,...), toys, place to lie, snacks, food and the usual bowls, short and long lead as well as collar and chest harness.
Very important to mention: Dogs and children must never be left in the car in warm temperatures. Even just a few minutes is enough to warm the car to an unbearable heat, so that there is danger to life. On a journey we always help ourselves with special cooling products such as a cooling mat for dogs. Also regular breaks and the provision of sufficient drinking water is a must for me.
How much water does a dog need to drink so that the journey is not cumbersome?
Basically it depends very much on the size and the movement of the dog. As a rule of thumb, dogs with a normal activity level should consume about 100 milliliters of fluid per kilogram of body weight. In addition, the water balance can be boosted by feeding wet food or by adding water to dry food.
f the dog should avoid the offered water for stress reasons or the like, I would advise to mix liver pâté or other delicacies into the water, so that it becomes more attractive for the quadruped.
At what intervals do you take breaks and how long should they be? How do you know when a break is due?
In summer we always make sure to take a break after 3 hours at the latest. My dogs actually always sleep in the car. So when they get up, change their position constantly and are restless, I notice that it's about time for a break.
What do you do with your dogs during the breaks?
First I always offer enough fresh water to drink, then we go for a walk. But I always let my dogs be complete dogs, sniff the meadows and do their business. That's a relaxed balance. When we travel long distances, such as the annual trip from Vienna to England, I also use the breaks for small training sessions to get my dogs tired. Sniffing games (e.g. sprinkle treats into the meadow and let them search afterwards) or learning various tricks are always well suited.
What do I need to know before, during and after arriving at my destination? Is there anything to consider?
If the dog is not used to long journeys, or generally tends to discomfort when driving, I would advise to talk to the vet about it first. I take care that my dogs do not receive new treats or new food before a journey, because I cannot expect my four-legged friends to have stomach problems on a long car journey. Most dogs like it when the normal routine and maybe even the fixed feeding times are observed on the day of travel.
How do you plan these breaks? Where do you prefer to make them? (parking lots, rest stops,...)
Ideally, I have time to look at Google Maps to see where enough green spaces are available. I often ask my Facebook friends if there are some insider tips for dogs on the respective route.
For example, we have already used a great lake for a swimming break for the dogs. I don't like rest stops for longer breaks with dogs, because many people leave their garbage there and dangers like rat poison boxes or broken glass lurk constantly.
Is there special food for dogs? What do you recommend as provisions?
Especially in the homeopathic field there are several ways for dogs to prevent discomfort in the car. However, I recommend to always communicate with an expert and not to deliberately try things from the Internet. Especially a change of food is a problem for many dogs in the first days, which is why I advise not to give any new food so spontaneously before the start of the journey. What can often make sense, however, is a suitable chewing bone or chewing toy on which the dog can chew while driving.
Is the dog sunburn or sunstroke? What do you do about it if this is the case?
Overheating can also occur in dogs. Important: the dog should not be cooled down with ice-cold water or a bath during a heat stroke, but should be brought to a normal temperature piece by piece with wet cloths. Some dogs have little fur or sensitive skin on the bridge of the nose and sometimes also on the ears. In this case, it would be important to apply non-toxic sunscreen to these areas several times. Special care is required on stones and asphalt: This heats up extremely quickly and can be like burning coals for our dogs. Always do the test to see if the floor is cool enough to walk barefoot as a human being. If the bales are burned, a veterinarian must be consulted immediately.
How do I recognize that the dog suffers from heat?
There are, just like with us humans also with dogs the warm and the cold lovers. When I notice that my dog only prefers the shade, shows sluggish behaviour all day long, maybe even refuses food and a walk, I notice that my dog gets too much heat.
Overheating can be seen in a fast pulse, fast, flat breathing, staggering gait, impaired balance, pale mucous membranes, unconsciousness or even unconsciousness.
What do I do to relieve or avoid acute heat complaints of the dog?
Move the walks and walks into the early morning and/or late evening hours. Before going on holiday, it is always a good choice to visit a reputable dog hairdresser who offers the dog's coat type appropriate care. In my dogs, for example, the undercoat is always brushed out to prevent heat build-up, the top coat remains long and protects the skin from sunlight. Swimming and once in a while a homemade dog ice cream can also help. In the warm summer months it is generally also important to avoid exertion. So do without your dog on the summer bike tour.
What can newcomers do when travelling with their dog for the first time? How can you prepare for your first holiday with your dog?
A good tip is to get a lot of information in advance in order to be able to make good preparations at home. For example, many people do not buy a dog transport box until just before departure. Of course, many dogs are not very enthusiastic if they do not know how to transport them in the box. You could place them in the living room a few weeks before the trip and teach the dog to relax in this box. Also a good possibility to give the dog security: Never leave your dog alone in a strange environment if he is not used to it. In many cases, four-legged friends like it when the daily routine is halfway oriented to the daily walks and feeding times. Familiar smells and toys also provide relaxation. For me, the vet's check and the entry regulations to the respective holiday country are always part of my travel preparations.