Taking Your Dog on Vacation

Whether you leave Rover home or bring him on vacation, plans for your trip should be made well in advance.

If Rover is going on vacation, you must consider his personality. If you are not sure about his personality, or if he behaves differently with you than with other people, ask a friend (or several) to give an objective opinion. Here are some questions to consider:

Is your pet friendly?

Is he (she) over-friendly? Sometimes a large over-friendly dog appears aggressive and scares people.

Does your dog jump up on people? If so, he (she) can easily knock down and injure a small child.

Is Rover extremely territorial? If you are planning a camping trip, remember that campsites are located close to each other. There are no walls or fences that separate adjacent campsites.

Does your dog bark when he (she) hears strange noises? When away from home, many new noises are considered “strange” noises. Barking is extremely annoying to neighbors.

Does Rover obey your commands? Does he wander from home? Spending an entire day (or several days) chasing after Rover is no fun.


If you would like to bring Rover on vacation, planning is necessary.

Rover must be current on all vaccinations, including Rabies. If you do not have vaccination certificates, call your regular veterinarian and request copies. If you are traveling to another state, you may want to call your state veterinarian’s office. Your state veterinarian may provide you with additional information or requirements that are necessary for traveling with Rover.

Make sure you have an adequate supply of heartworm medication as well as a supply of any other medication that Rover is taking. If Rover is taking prescription medication, carry a copy of the prescription. A copy of his (her) medical record may be useful as well.

A strong collar (and leash) with identification tags is necessary. The tags must have an address and phone number. Since you are on vacation, the phone number should be a friend’s number or the phone number of your veterinary hospital. A second collar with an additional set is useful if the original is lost.

Rover’s picture should be in your wallet. A current photo of your dog comes in handy if he/she gets lost.

A travel crate or kennel (well ventilated) is necessary.

A large bag of Rover’s food may be easier to purchase at home than on the road. If he (she) is eating a special or prescription diet, you may have a difficult time purchasing this particular brand away from your home.


Motels, inns, and campsites must be called in advance. Many accept pets, some welcome pets, and most refuse pets. Some motels, Inns, and campsites have limited space for families with pets. These are often booked before tourist season even begins. Make these reservations early!

Check with your local American Automobile Association for motels, inns and campgrounds that accept pets. The Internet is an excellent method for finding lodging as well.

There are many books and pamphlets entitled Traveling with your pet. An inexpensive and useful publication can be purchased from Quaker Oats. It is available for $1.50 from Quaker Oats Publishers, Professional Services, P.O. Box 877, Young America, MN, 55399.

Insecticide Poisoning

The most common cause of poisoning in dogs and cats is from insecticides. Presently there are more than 25,000 insecticides registered for use in the United States. Insecticides used to control fleas on pets cause the majority of poisonings.

Some animals are overly sensitive to flea products (insecticides used to control fleas) and in other instances the pet owner does not use these products according to instructions. Insecticides can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled through the lungs, or ingested. Cats often ingest topical flea products during grooming.

Overstimulation of the nervous system is the most common symptom of insecticide poisoning. Early symptoms include excessive salivation, uneasiness and a change in personality. As the condition progresses, muscle tremors, change in pupil size (contracted pupils), vomiting and diarrhea occurs. Eventually, if poisoning is severe, stiffness, paralysis, and seizures are common. Death occurs from cardiovascular and respiratory failure. Clinical symptoms generally progress rapidly and persist for days and even weeks.

Before using any insecticides on your pet (flea products in particular) talk to your veterinarian for advice. Most veterinary hospitals sell flea products that are safe, reliable, and effective.

Insecticide poisoning is a medical emergency and immediate veterinary care is required. If insecticide poisoning is suspected, the animal should be rushed to a veterinary hospital or animal emergency center.

Biology of the Cat and Dog Flea

Fleas are magical creatures that have been annoying animals for over 60 million years. With their flattened bodies and three pairs of powerful legs, they are magnificently adapted for jumping. The average flea is capable of jumping more than 100 times its own height. It is extremely easy for a flea to jump from one pet to another.

Ctenocephalides felis, the cat flea, is the most common flea found on dogs and cats. Other fleas may parasitize dogs and cats; however, the cat flea is the predominant skin parasite in the United States.

There are four stages to the life cycle of the flea: adult, egg, larva, and pupa. The adult flea spends most of its time on the host (dog or cat). Development of the egg, larva, and pupa takes place in the environment (off the pet). In order for flea control to be effective, the environment as well as the pet must be treated.

Adult fleas are blood suckers. In order to reach sexual maturity, reproduce and lay eggs, immature adult fleas require blood from their host. When on the host, these skin parasites feed daily or every other day. Male fleas only require a minimum amount of blood, however females require much more. The life span of the adult flea ranges from six to 12 months. Length of survival depends upon temperature and humidity. The adult and larval stages do not survive well in extreme temperature conditions. The ideal temperature is 65-80 degrees F with 75 to 85 percent humidity.

While on the host, the adult female flea lays eggs. She is capable of laying 30-60 eggs per day. Some of the eggs remain on the dog or cat; however, most fall into the environment. The eggs are often located in carpets, sofas, chairs with fabric upholstery, animal beds, and kennels. Flea eggs are found in areas where pets spends most of their time.

Like chicken eggs, flea eggs must incubate. Incubation time is variable, depending upon the temperature and humidity. Under favorable conditions, this period is two to six days. After incubation, the larva emerges from the egg. The flea larva resembles a microscopic-size worm and undergoes a series of changes. In a few weeks, the larva spins a small cocoon and transforms into a pupa. The pupal stage is extremely resistant and can survive for up to two years in unfavorable conditions. This must be taken into consideration when treating an area for fleas!

The adult flea emerges from the cocoon, jumps on a cat or dog, and the cycle begins again. Under ideal conditions, the entire cycle may take only 18 days to complete.

In the warmer, more humid areas of the United States, the flea cycle is short. With adult fleas emerging every three weeks, pets are infested year-round. In the northern parts of the country, there is a reprieve during the winter months. During the cold weather, pupae remain dormant. By late spring, when the temperature and humidity increase significantly, large numbers of pupae emerge and the flea problem begins again.

Ctenocephalides felis serves as the intermediate host for the dog and cat tapeworm. Pets often ingest fleas during grooming. The tapeworm is released inside the digestive tract of the pet where it attaches to the lining of the intestine.

Lawns, Toxic Plants and Outdoor Chemicals

Herbicides (weed killers), insecticides, rodent poison, and slug and snail bait are some of the toxic chemicals used outdoors that may be harmful to your pet. Each summer, insecticides and herbicides poison thousands of pets. When using these chemicals, follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully. Make sure that all receptacles and containers are thoroughly washed and out of reach of your pet. Runoff or puddles created from spraying these products should be thoroughly diluted. Do not allow pets in the yard while spraying these products and keep them out of the yard for 3-4 days afterwards. Often, pets walk on surfaces covered with herbicides and become intoxicated after cleaning or licking their paws.

Many plants are toxic to pets. These plants must be ingested in order to cause poisoning. Included below is a partial list of common poisonous plants. These plants are listed in alphabetical order.

Braken Fern
Bleeding Heart
Castor Bean
Crown of Thorns
Dutchman’s Breeches
English Holly
English Ivy
Horse Chestnut
Jack in the Pulpit
Jerusalem Cherry
Poison Ivy
Red Oak
Star of Bethlehem
White Snake Root
Yellow Jasmine

Poison oak and poison ivy can cause a skin irritation on your pet. More often though, the problem is when your pet passes it to you. Their fur becomes a source of the poison oak or poison ivy. You develop symptoms after contact with your pet.

Heatstroke — Symptoms and Treatment

Heatstroke is a serious condition that can lead to rapid death. Symptoms of heatstroke must be recognized and treatment must be initiated rapidly.


Early symptoms of heatstroke are labored breathing, warm dry skin, an anxious attitude, and profuse salivation. As the condition progresses, the animal develops a glazed look, and is somewhat unresponsive to external stimulation. Looking inside the mouth, the tongue and gums have a bright red appearance. The heartbeat of the animal increases and if left untreated, he (she) becomes weak and eventually collapses.


Immediate emergency care is required for an animal suffering from heatstroke. The animal should be placed in a bathtub filled with lukewarm water. If a tub is not available, the animal should wrapped in lukewarm damp towels (If towels are not immediately available, the pet should be hosed down). The water used to cool down the animal should be lukewarm, not cold. If the pet is responsive, small amounts of cool water should be offered to drink.

When the animal is cooled down, he (she) must be taken to a veterinary hospital. Intravenous fluid therapy is often required for animals with heatstroke.

Heatstroke (Hyperthermia)

Summer is a fun and exciting time of year. During the warm months, pets are less confined to the interior of the house and spend much more time outdoors. Special precautions must be taken to ensure that Rover and Kitty remain healthy and cool during the hot summer days.

Sweating is an efficient mechanism for cooling down an overheated body. The human body has millions of sweat glands located in the skin. When the body temperature is elevated, these glands secrete moisture (sweat) on the surface of the skin. Evaporation of this sweat is responsible for cooling down an overheated body.

Dogs and cats, unlike humans, do not cool off by sweating. Instead, they cool themselves by panting. Panting is the process of breathing in through the nose and breathing out through the mouth. As the air passes through the nose and mouth, some evaporation occurs. Panting is not as efficient as sweating, therefore pets have a difficult time coping with the summer heat.

Heatstroke is a serious problem and is a major cause of accidental death in dogs. A pet left in a hot car or an animal that has no shade or water can die from heatstroke in just a short period of time. When you travel with your pet, or if he’s left at home, plenty of cool, fresh, drinking water should be available at all times.

Certain animals are particularly sensitive to heatstroke. These include:

  • Young, old and overweight animals
  • Animals with shortened muzzles (Bulldogs, Pugs, Boxers, Pekinese, Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzu, Boston Terriers, and Persian cats)
  • Animals with heart and / or respiratory problems
  • Animals with thick, heavy coats (particularly the northern or cold-breed animals)

During the hot summer months, pets should be kept cool. An outdoor doghouse or kennel should be well ventilated and located in the shade. Allowing a dog access to a child’s shallow wading pool, filled with an appropriate amount of clean water, is an excellent method for keeping Rover cool during the heat of the day.

Overexertion and intense exercise should be avoided during the middle part of the day. Long walks and heavy exercise should be reserved for the early morning and late afternoon. When taking Rover for a walk, remember that he does not wear shoes. Dogs’ paws are sensitive and burn easily on hot blacktop. Blacktop and other hot surfaces should be avoided.

On warm sunny days, a pet should never be left unattended in an enclosed vehicle. If your pet absolutely must remain in the vehicle, the following precautions are recommended:

  • Completely open all windows and vents
  • The pet should remain in a well-ventilated cage or kennel
  • The vehicle should be parked in a shaded area, out of direct sunlight
  • Fresh water should be available
  • Return to the vehicle every 10-15 minutes to check up on him (her)

On a warm sunny day, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach 150 degrees within a period of 10-15 minutes. Trapped inside a hot vehicle, a pet can suffer from heatstroke and die very quickly.

Heartworm Disease and Prevention

Heartworm is a serious, life-threatening disease of dogs. It is due to the presence of the adult stage of the parasite, Dirofilaria immitis, in the pulmonary arteries and right ventricle of the heart. Until the early 1970s, the occurrence of heartworm in the United States was primarily confined to the southeastern part of the country. Today, it is found almost everywhere in the continental United States and is a major threat to the dog population of Canada.

 Heartworm Disease

Transmission of heartworm depends upon the mosquito population of an area. About 70 species of mosquitoes are capable of transmitting the disease. The more mosquitoes in an area, the greater the chance of heartworm transmission.

Heartworm disease occurs most commonly in dogs. It has recently been shown that heartworm is a major cause of heart disease in cats. Heartworm also infects wild animals. Coyotes, wolves and foxes are carriers of the disease in the wild. In a particular area, when the wild animals are infected, the disease is permanent.

The adult heartworm is 6-14 inches in length. It is thread-like, white in color, and primarily found in the pulmonary arteries and right ventricle of the heart. When adult male and female heartworms are present, mating occurs. The female releases large amounts of small, microscopic “microfilariae” into the bloodstream.

Heartworm Infected Dog’s Heart

Since heartworm is most commonly seen in dogs, this article is focusing primarily on canine heartworm. However, most of this information is also true for the other species that contract heartworm.

The circulating microfilariae can live up to two years in the dog’s bloodstream. Several microfilariae are ingested by a mosquito when it bites a dog. The mosquito serves as an intermediate host as well as vector (the transmitting agent) for the disease. The mosquito spreads the disease to another dog by injecting the microfilariae at the time of the bite.

In order for the microfilariae to become infectious, they must develop inside the body of the mosquito. This development occurs only under certain environmental conditions. Two weeks of temperature at or above 70 degrees F is required. As a result of this temperature requirement, transmission of the disease is limited to the warm months.

Heartworm Cycle

After the microfilariae have gone through their development, they are ready to infect a new victim. During a blood meal (mosquito bite), the mosquito injects the microfilariae into a new dog. These small, microscopic worms migrate under the skin and eventually enter the dog’s blood stream. About 6 months after the initial mosquito bite, the microfilariae arrive at the heart. The final maturation and the mating of the heartworm occur in the pulmonary arteries. The adult worms live in the pulmonary arteries and right side of the heart, where they can survive for seven years.

Adult heartworms cause inflammation and thickening of pulmonary arteries. As time passes, more arteries become inflamed and clots begin to appear. The blocked pulmonary vessels lead to an increase in blood pressure. This increase in pressure places a strain on the right ventricle of the heart. Eventually, heart failure occurs.

Clinical symptoms of heartworm disease develop very slowly. Often, symptoms are not noticeable until 3 years after the initial infection. Most of the symptoms are due to problems associated with increased work load for the heart. Lack of energy and exercise intolerance are early symptoms. Chronic coughing and difficulty breathing are both common symptoms associated with heartworm disease. As the disease progresses, most dogs develop congestive heart failure and ascites. Dogs often collapse in the final stage of the disease.

Not only is heartworm dangerous, but the treatment for heartworm disease is dangerous as well.

When it comes to preventing heartworm disease, pet owners have a number of options. Before beginning preventive medication, pet owners should have their pets tested for the presence of heartworms. If heartworms are present, a treatment plan should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Most heartworm prevention is done by administering your pet a once-a-month heartworm preventive medication. Many of these monthly products are administered as a chewable treat. Some are combined with other preventive medications. Your veterinarian will recommend the product that is best suited for your pet.

If you would like to have your pet tested for heartworm or you would like additional information about the disease, please call the hospital.