Traveling Tips: Pets Have Special Needs When the Heat is On
August 14, 2013

We all love to take our pets camping. After all, our four-legged friends are part of the family, and it just doesn’t seem right to leave them behind.

But taking our furry friends camping when the temperature climbs takes a bit of planning, as well as constant vigilance.

They May Be Your Babies, But They Aren’t Human
It’s important to remember that your pets aren’t human, and they react very differently to heat. Dogs pant to dissipate moisture from their lungs. In fact, the only place dogs “sweat” is from the bottoms of their feet. That means they don’t handle heat very well, and it’s up to you to be aware of their condition.

It’s Not Just The Heat, It’s The Humidity
“If the humidity is too high, pets are unable to cool themselves,” said Dr. Barry Kellogg of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. “Their temperature can skyrocket to dangerous levels very quickly.” If a dog’s temperature rises over 104 degrees, they are likely headed for heatstroke.

Don’t Leave Them In The Heat
When camping, it’s tempting to leave Fido in the air-conditioned RV or Cabin while the rest of the family heads to dinner or another activity. That could lead to danger, should a power failure occur. Campground power supplies can be strained on hot days, and no one should put their pets at risk. Also, pets need a constant water supply on a hot day. A tipped and spilled water bowl could spell disaster. In addition, don’t rely on a simple fan. Fans don’t cool pets as effectively as they do people.

Limit The Exercise & Increase The Shade
Take your walks during the cooler early morning and evening hours. And keep your pet off the hot asphalt, which can burn paws. Carry pet water with you on your walks. If your pet is kept outside, be sure they have access to shade and lots of cool water. Add ice to the water when you can. And don’t confine your pet to an enclosed kennel or doghouse. The lack of circulating air makes things worse.

Watch For Heatstroke
Here is what to watch for when your pet may be in distress:

  • Heavy panting
  • Glazed eyes
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive thirst
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Profuse salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Deep red or purple tongue
  • Seizure and ultimate unconsciousness

If you suspect there is a problem, move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to the head, neck and chest or run cool water over her. Let your dog drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. As soon as possible, get your pet to the vet.

There are several additional resources for more information on traveling with your pets:

  • Go to and search for “traveling.” The ASPCA has several good articles concerning pet safety when on the road.
  • Check out for even more usable tips for pet travel.
  • There are some great pet travel product ideas at
  • AAA has an entire book on traveling with your pet. Just go to and search the Book section for “Traveling With Your Pets.”
  • And for the latest survey info about folks who travel with their pets, check out Trip Advisor’s annual survey at

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