All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Traveling with a Pet in the Hot Summer - Not a Good Idea!

Dear  Marie:
I’m planning a family summer vacation that includes our dog.  We’re going to be driving to the Grand Canyon and sight seeing along the way.  We will be tent camping and the total length of the trip will be two weeks.  Can you suggest some tips that will make this trip enjoyable for our pet? 

Huntington Beach

Dear Jolene:
First of all, I’d like to try and talk you out of taking your dog.  Your summer vacation to the Grand Canyon will be both uncomfortable, and potentially dangerous for your pet.  Summer-time temperatures out in your destination area are well over 100 degrees.  I am sure you are aware that heat, dogs, and cars don’t mix.  For example, if you leave your pet in your vehicle while you get a “quick” bite to eat at a highway diner, the temperature inside your car will sore to an unbearable high in just a matter of minutes; even with the windows partially rolled down, your pet will succumb to heat stroke before you finish your ice-cold drink and a burger in the air-conditioned building.   All too often, pets are killed in situations just like this. 

Secondly, your pet may become confused if taken away from his home environment.  His only security will be his family.  But, you’ll be out walking the “no dogs allowed” trails of the Grand Canyon, and he will have to stay behind in camp.  Often, pets escape and run away in an attempt to find home.  The chances of him being located again are not incredibly good.  Even if he is wearing an I.D. tag or has a microchip, there are miles and miles of open space and he would be—almost certain—un-findable. 

Open space brings up another important issue...wild animals.  Coyotes, mountain lions, and other predators are indigenous to the Grand Canyon area.  A domestic dog would certainly be looked on as prey by these animals.  Furthermore, rattlesnakes are prevalent.  A curious dog could easily fall victim to a poisonous viper and veterinary help would be hard to come by, especially the immediate, emergency form of veterinary care required for this type of injury.

Hopefully, I’ve discouraged you.  Generally, I support travelling with a pet during cooler times of the year, and to more temperate locations that are pet-friendly.  The Grand Canyon is NOT one of those locations. 

So now you need to know what to do with your pet while you’re gone.  Ask a neighbor or a family member to care for him.  If you can’t think of anyone offhand, there are a number of pet-sitting services that will provide wonderful care for your little guy while you are vacationing.  Furthermore, pet-sitters will take care of your house, and plants, and a number of other chores that need to be tended to.

Another option—though not the most desirable—is boarding your pet.  Your veterinarian may have facilities, or you may choose a licensed boarding kennel.  However, if you choose this option, your pet will suffer both the separation anxiety of losing his family AND his familiar home surroundings.  I’d go with the home care!

Your pet WILL miss you while you are away.  But unlike you, he doesn’t really have a sense of time. Chances are, the hours you spend away while you are at work elicit the same emotional response he will experience while you are away on your trip.  Nevertheless, if he is allowed to remain at home, he will know that you are coming back and will be faithfully waiting to smother you with doggie kisses when you return.

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