Friday, July 1, 2016

Making a Doggy Go-Bag for Home and Away

I take my dogs lots of places all year long.  If I go somewhere, odds are at least one or two of my dogs are with me.  However, I learned long ago about taking my dogs in a vehicle and the myriad of things that can go wrong; as well as how to travel in extreme weather conditions.  One thing I’ve always done is to make up and maintain a “doggy go-bag.”  Like a human go-bag, its contents are necessities for the host of possibilities you may experience when traveling with your dog(s).

I encourage everyone that takes their dog for car rides to make their dog(s) a doggy go-bag.  Moms and dads may better relate by thinking of it as a doggy version of a baby diaper bag - that big bag of stuff you carry/carried for your baby whenever you leave/left home so you'd have everything needed to care for the baby away from home.  The doggy go-bag is essentially the same thing. It should contain spare collars, leashes, water, toys, and a basic doggy first aid kit.  You can add other things depending on what you and your dog do; and where you go.  Just remember to replenish the water and first aid items as you use them so you're never caught without what you need.

Things to consider:  Akin to traveling with kids, making a go-bag for dogs is all about the things you may need and the things your dog will want when you go somewhere.  Things to consider when packing the go-bag include: time of year and temperatures typical of that season; weather types (i.e. snow, rain, heat…); duration of time the dog(s) will be in the vehicle; destination needs (i.e. leashes, toys, food, water, bowls…); duration of travel; and most importantly, doggy first aid and emergency kits. Also, and this is key, think of the potential things that could happen to extend your time in the vehicle; and the things that could happen to cause emergency needs for your dog (vehicle break-down, involved in an accident, detours on your trip, dog gets injured somehow or becomes sick...)  If you plan ahead and prepare for at least the minimum needs, then packing a go-bag with useful items is easy.  

Things I carry in the doggy go-bag:  My go-bag include the following: towels, multiple rags and wash clothes, spare leashes, spare collars, a roll of twine, duct tape, electrical tape, plastic Ziploc baggies, a generic first aid kit AND a four foot length of clear flexible surgical tubing, a multi-tool knife, medical tape, self-adhering roll bandages called, “VetWrap,” gauze pads, non-stick pads, Vaseline, a 25’ lightweight rope, Betadine; six bottles of water or more; spare carabiner clips, a spare blanket; spare dog food, dog toys, spare harnesses; and spare treats.  I’m no “MacGyver” but I can do a lot in an emergency if I need to with everything I have in my doggy go-bag alone.  I can at least stabilize an injured animal and get to the vet.  During the winter, I add dog coats and a couple blankets.

The doggy go-bag may seem silly to you, but if you live or lived on a farm, you understand that stuff happens and when you’re not at your home, even a quick jog to the house can be time-consuming and life-threatening time spent.  If you’ve been stuck on the road during a break-down, you need to be sure your dog can survive the wait for help as well as you and your kids.  If you’ve been in or witnessed an accident, there’s never enough help or stuff on-hand until the emergency units arrive-again, with a dog, it could be critical time spent waiting if you’re not prepared with some basic emergency items.  Obviously, things like rags, towels and blankets are just plain handy when you take dogs somewhere and they make any kind of mess. If they're like mine, they’re active athletes and swimmers that may need to be cleaned off or have something to cover a seat or cargo space to keep it from being wet or dirty.  The toys are of course, things to do with your dog when you go somewhere.  I have spare Frisbees and tennis balls in mine.  The spare treats-you never know when your dog may get frustrated or frightened and getting him/her to do something may be a challenge.  Having treats on hand may get your dogs’ attention.  You also never know when you may happen on a stray dog somewhere so having some things on hand could be helpful in catching and providing emergency care as needed until you can get the animal to a shelter or vet.

I know it seems excessive.  I’ve been told that many times by many people. I don’t care because I’m also the one everyone always runs to when there is an emergency or they otherwise need something I have and they don’t.  My point is that you need to have some basics on-hand in your vehicle for your dog.  If you have or had kids, you probably lug/lugged around a diaper bag with spare diapers, clothes, cleaning items and spare food/bottle for the kids – this is your dogs’ diaper bag but calling it a “diaper bag” is silly. During the summer, water tops the list along with a bowl or baggie for them to drink from.  Yes, a folded down baggie can be a great dog water/food bowl in a pinch; and the bottom half of a clean water/soda bottle can be a great bowl too.  Spare leashes and collars never hurt, spare towels and spare toys.  I will always advocate asking your vet for a list of things to include in making your own doggy first aid kit and having that in your doggy go-bag.

Be well and be good to yourself and others!

~ Chris

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