Vacation with dogs

Vacation with dogs

Tips from Lukas Pratschker

The best campsites for you and your dog

Experience and enjoy an unforgettable holiday with your dog on enchanting campsites. Under the motto "Dogs Welcome" you can choose from a variety of great campsites where your pet will also relax and feel at home.

Lukas Pratschker heads 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.

What do you take with you when you travel with your dogs?

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 bandage cuts, ...), toys, a place to lie, snacks, food and the usual bowls, short and long leash as well as collar and breast harness.

How do you deal with heat in the car?

Very important to mention: Dogs and children should never be left in the car in warm temperatures. Even just a few minutes are enough to heat the car to an unbearable temperature and endanger your 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 must a dog drink so that the journey does not become difficult?

Basically it depends on the size and movement of the dog. As a rule of thumb, dogs with a normal activity level should drink about 100 millilitres of fluid per kilogram of body weight. In addition, the water balance can be improved by feeding wet food or by adding water to dry food.

If the dog should avoid the offered water for stress reasons or similar, I would advise to mix liver pate or other goodies 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?

In summer we always make sure to take a break after 3 hours at the latest. My dogs always sleep in the car. If they get up, change their position constantly and are restless, I notice that it is now 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 little walk. But I always let my dogs be complete dogs, sniff the meadows and do their business. That is 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. scattering treats in the meadow and then letting them search for them) or learning different tricks are always well suited.

What do I have to bear in mind when feeding before, during and after the trip?

If the dog is not yet used to long journeys, or generally tends to feel unwell when driving, I would advise you to talk to the vet first. I make sure that my dogs don't get any new treats or food before a trip, because I can't expect stomach problems from my four-legged friends on a long drive. Most dogs find it great if the normal routine and perhaps even the fixed feeding times are adhered to on the day of travel.

How do you plan these breaks?

Ideally, I have time in advance to look at Google Maps, where there are enough green spaces available. Often I also ask my Facebook friends if there are any insider tips for dogs on the respective route.

For example, we have already used a great lake for a swimming break for the dogs. Rest stops are rather unpleasant for me for longer breaks with dogs, as many people leave their garbage there and dangers such as rat poison boxes or broken glass lurk constantly.

Is there a special food for dogs?

Especially in the homeopathic area, there are also some possibilities for dogs to prevent discomfort in the car. However, I recommend that you always communicate with an expert and do not try things on the Internet deliberately. Especially a change of food is a problem for many dogs in the first few days, which is why I advise not to give new food so spontaneously before travelling. What can often be useful, however, is a suitable chewing bone or chewing toy on which the dog can chew during the journey. The movement is stress-relieving and the dog also has a little activity on a longer journey.

Is there sunburn or sunstroke on the dog?

Dogs can also overheat. Important: In case of a heat stroke, the dog should not be cooled down with ice-cold water or a bath, but brought to a normal temperature bit by bit with wet cloths. Some dogs have little coat 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 sun cream to these areas several times. Special care should be taken on stones and asphalt: This heats up extremely fast and can be like burning coal for our dogs. Always make the test whether the ground is cool enough to walk barefoot. In the case of a burning of the bales, it is necessary to go immediately to a veterinarian.

How can I tell if the dog suffers from heat?

There are, just like with us humans also with dogs the warm and the cold lovers. If I notice that my dog only prefers the shade, shows sluggish behaviour throughout the day, perhaps even refuses to feed and walk, I notice that the heat becomes too much for my dog.

An overheating can be noticed by a fast pulse, fast flat breathing, staggering gait, balance disorders, pale mucous membranes, loss of consciousness or even unconsciousness.

What do I do to alleviate or avoid acute heat complaints of the dog?

Take the walks and gas rounds into the early morning and/or late evening hours. Before you go on holiday, it is always a good choice to visit a reputable dog hairdresser, who offers the type of coat of the dog, a species-appropriate care. With my dogs, for example, the undercoat is always brushed out to prevent heat accumulation, the top coat remains long and protects the skin from sunlight. Swimming and sometimes a homemade dog ice cream can also help. In the warm summer months, it is generally a good idea to avoid exertion. So, during the summer bike tour, you should also do without your dog.

What can newcomers do who travel with their dog for the first time?

A good tip is to obtain a lot of information in advance so that you can make good preparations at home. Many people only buy a dog transport box, for example, directly before departure. Of course, many dogs are not very enthusiastic if they do not know the transport in the box. One could place them in the living room a few weeks before the journey and learn the dog how to relax in this box. Also a good possibility to give the dog security: Never leave the dog alone in a strange environment if he is not used to it. In many cases, four-legged friends find it great, if the daily routine orientates itself halfway at the everyday walks and feeding times. Usual smells and toys provide also still for relaxation. For me, travel preparation always includes the check at the vet and for clarification also the entry regulations into the respective holiday country.

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