How to Create a Summer Safety Kit for Your Dog
In the spirit of the Boy Scouts motto "Be Prepared," wouldn't it be great to be ready for any surprise summer might throw your dog's way? From mosquito bites and tick attacks to sunburn, summertime has its own particular hazards for dogs, but happily those hazards are preventable -- provided you've got the right gear, of course.
Whether you're planning a staycation with your dog, an afternoon pup picnic at a local park, a weekend at a beach or mountain resort, a daylong hike, or a weekend camping trip in the woods, here's a checklist of things to bring with you in a handy little travel-necessities kit (plus, for the fashion hounds among you, some suitably stylish suggestions for what to carry them in).
1. Pet-Safe Sunscreen
Dogs can get sunburn too, so prevent this unfortunate occurrence by applying a children's sun-protection product with a minimum SPF of 15 to hairless areas (especially the snout and inner thighs), and make sure the product you choose contains no zinc oxide. This common ingredient of sunscreen is toxic to dogs if licked (and it's not great for human health, either, especially for kids). Look for sunscreen made with botanical ingredients; Jason is a great brand for pets and people.
2. Pest Prevention
Protect against pests with nontoxic neem oil, the brilliant biopesticide that prevents fleas, mosquitos, and other flying menaces from coming near you or your dog. Neem is also effective at treating any type of temperature or chemical burn, which makes it perfect for soothing a sunburn.
If you or Spot forgot your sunscreen (see above), and you happen to fall asleep out there and sustain a sunburn, apply neem for immediate relief. If you're camping or picnicking, sprinkle a few drops on the ground near your tent or blanket. A one-ounce bottle of neem oil is a must for any summer travel kit; it's even correctly sized for air travel. (Get it here.)
3. Tick Attack
Even neem is no match for those dangerous, disease-spreading bloodsuckers. To arm Spot against ticks, you'll need to pack up a few teaspoons of diatomaceous earth in a small receptacle, like a travel-size three-ounce plastic bottle or small zip-lock bag. Just a few teaspoons of this nontoxic white powder, massaged through the coat down to the skin, is enough to keep Spot protected from disease-carrying ticks. (The powder actually desiccates the tick's exoskeleton, killing it.) When your dog gets wet, dry him off and reapply.
4. Fido First Aid
In case a marauding tick does attach itself to your dog or you, you'll need a travel-size bottle of vodka (seriously!) and a pair of tweezers in your kit. Here's how this works: Splash on a bit of vodka to stun the varmint (a plus: The alcohol will also disinfect the area, and vodka doesn't have that whisker-irritating smell that rubbing alcohol has). Then tweeze off the tick, taking care to get the whole tick and nothing but the tick.
5. Drinks on the Run
Dehydration is no fun for Fido, and you'd be surprised how quickly your dog will get thirsty, whether you're out and about in the city or the country. So bring along a lightweight, collapsible dog bowl for handy hound hydration. Whether you draw water from a drinking fountain or a plastic bottle, you'll have a receptacle at the ready any time you notice Spot's tongue looking extra-long.
6. Stow and Go
So, what to pack all this stuff in? That depends on where you're going and the size and strength of your dog. Forego the fanny pack. If you and your miniature pup are headed for a swank, dog-friendly hotel or a day of shopping at fancy stores and dining at an outdoor cafe, Crypton makes moisture-proof cosmetic bags for fashion hounds, which are just right for stylish stowage in your purse. But if your medium-to-large dog is up for carrying duty, the aptly named Doodie Pack is your ticket. This sleek backpack, designed especially for dogs, easily fits all of the above listed items (plus, of course, biodegradable poop bags!) and looks cool in any setting, urban or rural.
Did I pack in a hurry and leave something out? Please let us know in the comments!