It has long been known that the company of dogs can actually benefit the lives of their human companions. Some of the reported benefits of canine companionship include:
- Disease detection
- Alerting owners of low blood sugar
- Reducing eczema and allergies
- Lowing stress and blood pressure
An ever growing percentage of the 3.5 million truckers in the United States are deciding to take their dogs with them on the road. In addition to the above mentioned benefits – truckers know that having a dog along just makes trip a little brighter.
The innovative Trulos Transportation, who was the first to include fuel usage on a load board, is again putting the truckers’ interest first. Trulos has consulted with Dallas veterinarian, Jennifer Lavender, DVM, to compile the following list of what truckers traveling with dogs need to know.
WHAT EVERY TRUCKER NEEDS TO KNOW
ABOUT TRAVELING WITH THEIR DOG
- CHOOSING A BREED
Choosing the type of dog to accompany you is important. You need to consider the size of your cab and any sleeping compartment. Know how big the breed is expected to grow and make sure he can be comfortable in the truck. You also need to consider your ability to lift your dog in/out of the cab should the need arise. There is also variability in the activity needs of breeds. Take into consideration how much time you realistically think your dog will be able to be out of the truck and exercising.
- SAFE TRAVELING
It is likely that you will want your dog up in the cab alongside you. Remember that, just like you, your dog is at risk for being thrown from your vehicle in the case of an accident. Seatbelts are made for dogs and should be used whenever the vehicle is in motion.
- JUMPING INJURIES
Larger dogs are prone to injuries of their cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). This is the same as the human anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This ligament helps to stabilize the knee. Smaller dogs tend to break their front legs. Repeated jumping can increase your dog’s risk for these types of injury. Assistance should be given to your dog when getting him in and out of the cab of a truck.
- ENDEMIC DISEASES AND PREVENTATIVE CARE
Your dog should receive an examination every year by a veterinarian. This is a good time to talk to your vet about what parts of the country you expect to visit. Some diseases and health risks with varied geographic distribution are:
- Vaccinations – Immunizations, such as Leptospirosis, Lyme disease, and the rattlesnake vaccine, may be warranted depending on where you will be traveling. NOTE that proof of vaccinations is also required for travel (see below)
- Parasites – KNOW what parasites pose a threat to your pet.
- HEARTWORMS – Some parts of the country do not require dogs to be on year round heartworm prevention, but any travels to Southern parts of the US make this preventative medication critical. You might ask your veterinarian about Proheart, a shot which protects your dog from heartworms for 6 months
- INTESTINAL PARASITES – The US soil contains several types of parasites, many of which can be transmitted from your dog to you. Before taking your dog on the road, make sure he is on a comprehensive and regular deworming regimen. Common parasites include roundworms, hookworms, giardia, tapeworms, and whipworms.
- EXTERNAL PARASITES – Unfortunately, your dog is at risk for external parasties as well. These include fleas, ticks, and mange mites. With all parasites, the risks vary on the areas of the country you are visiting. In general, the warmer the climate, the worse the environmental parasite load. The best treatment for these “bugs” is to keep from getting them. Preventatives that kill the parasite without requiring your dog be bitten are the most effective at preventing not only the parasite in question but any diseases that it may be carrying as well.
- BASIC HUSBANDRY
Being on the road with your dog does not change their basic needs. Your dog will still need access to plenty of fresh water, shelter, food, and a place to relieve themselves. Be sure to budget time needed along your route to make sure your dog’s basic needs are being met. Keep updated on climate changes and make accommodations as needed to keep your dog from getting either too hot or too cold.
- ANXIETY/MOTION SICKNESS
Once you get your dog, you may find that he is not as excited about this nomadic lifestyle as you had hoped he would be. Dogs, especially puppies, may have travel anxiety and/or motion sickness. If your dog becomes nauseous when traveling, talk to your veterinarian about possible medications to help relieve these symptoms. If anxiety is more the issue, you may find relief for your dog through a combination of de-sensitization training and anti-anxiety medications. You can also help reduce stress in the cab with DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) products. DAP collars and sprays emit calming pheromones to reduce anxiety in dogs. A brand new medication, Sileo, is now available and labeled for canine noise aversion.
- INTERSTATE REGULATIONS
Crossing state lines with your pet will most likely require you carry certain documentation. Requirements are set by the individual states. Most require proof of vaccination against rabies as well as a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, which states your dog is in good health to travel and current on all vaccinations. This certificate can be provided by your veterinarian at the time of your dog’s annual examination.
- MEDICAL CARE ON THE ROAD
Luckily, there are veterinary hospitals, many of which are open 24 hours a day, throughout the US. Smart phones and the internet have made locating the nearest facility easier than ever. Remember, however, that your primary veterinarian is only accessible during their business hours. To avoid the inconvenience of not being able to access your pet’s medical records after hours, always ask for a copy of all vaccinations, procedures, and labwork. Carry this information in a file in your truck so that it is accessible during an emergency.
Although it may seem like a lot to think about initially, some simple planning can dramatically increase the safety of traveling with your dog. By ensuring that they are prepared for the journey, you can focus on the road ahead with some added company sure to make your trip much more enjoyable.
Happy travels to you and your dog!
Jennifer Lavender, DVM