Q In the middle of July, my wife and I are planning a three-week trip through the Western United States, including Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. We are planning on taking our two cockapoos, Mindy and Zero, with us, and they will be traveling in the trailer home. What precautions should we take for the dogs? Do we need any special papers or permits? They have made several small trips locally without any problems. Where can we get any information on campgrounds that accept pets?
Peter Munson, Seal Beach
A: If you are planning long trips with your pets, you should always make sure that you have their vaccinations--especially rabies--current, and keep a copy of the certificates handy. If your pets are taking any medication or are on special diets, be sure that you have plenty of both to cover the time that you will be gone. It may be very difficult to get medications refilled without having your pets examined again. If you know that you will be traveling through a heart worm endemic area, it may be wise to start your dogs on preventive medication to keep them from becoming infected. Your veterinarian will be able to help you decide if this will be necessary.
Since you will be traveling in July, avoid exposing the dogs to excessive heat and supply plenty of fresh water. It may be necessary to rest during the hottest parts of the day to avoid heat-related problems. You may have to feed them early in the morning or later in the evenings after things have settled for the day. If you are going to be out visiting sights when the weather is particularly hot, you might look into boarding your pets for the day at a local pet hotel where they will be cool and comfortable.
The Automobile Club or KOA may be able to supply you with lists of campgrounds that accept (or bar) pets. Most campgrounds require that the dogs be leashed for their own safety and kept inside at night to avoid confrontations with local wildlife. It would be a good idea to keep some flea spray or dip handy to control fleas or ticks that may be encountered.
Q: I have a very active 8-month-old Keeshond named Sara that occasionally acts very nervous around strangers or strange noises. Do you think I will need to get her some tranquilizers for the Fourth of July? She's never been around any type of fireworks, and I'm afraid that she might freak out.
Sandy Seimons, Santa Ana
A: You need to talk to your veterinarian and see what he or she thinks about Sara. If you think that she might need sedatives, your vet may want to examine her and prescribe a medication to calm her. Since it will probably be tablets, you should allow one-half to a full hour for the medication to take effect. It may be wise to keep Sara indoors, where the sounds will be muted and she will be less likely to run off.
Got a question about your pet? Write to: Dr. Glenn Ericson, Ask the Vet, Orange County Life, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626.