BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer and many people will travel with their pets. If you are a dog owner, there are a few things you may want to keep in mind before you hit the road with your canine.

Mondrian Contreras, doctor of veterinary medicine and veterinary expert for Pumpkin Pet Insurance, discussed five safety tips for dogs.

  • Car rides – For the drive to the beach or backyard bbq, make the ride fun by bringing toys and treats. If you know that motion sickness is a problem, discuss proper medication with your vet beforehand to see if over the counter medications like dramamine can work or if a prescription medication is needed. Playing calming music in the car (i.e. classical music) can also help your pup when traveling as well. In terms of safety, be sure to have a safety harness, crate, or pet seat belt to keep your pup secure and never leave them in the car with the temperature over 70 degrees outside (especially without the windows cracked or car left running with the AC on). 
  • Food – If your pets are social and enjoy being around other people, bbqs and picnics can be fun for them. While some summer foods can be ok in moderation, like watermelon, most table scraps, including fatty, barbecued meats, corn cobs and harmful ingredients like onions, garlic, and chocolate, can be digestive threats. Along with keeping an eye on them, I definitely recommend bringing dog treats so your dog has something to enjoy as well!
  • Water activities – If the weekend is warm, being at the beach, lake or pool can be a lot of fun, but if you bring your dog, there are a few things to make sure you bring with you: a long leash, thick towels, clean, fresh water and water dishes, and a first aid kit (including poop bags and treats). It is also important to note that not all dogs are good swimmers. They may doggy paddle out of instinct, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to stay afloat. If your dog hasn’t been taught to swim, I highly recommend a flotation device/that they wear a life jacket, and ALWAYS be sure to keep your eye on them around a pool or at the beach. 
  • Sun exposure – If the party and your pets are outdoors, the sun and heat can become harmful. Dogs CAN get sunburned, so bring and apply dog sunscreen, and bring an extra umbrella, or make sure there’s some shade to avoid sunburn or heat stroke. Also, always have clean, fresh water and a bowl available, and try to keep them off of hot pavement because it can burn their paws! 
  • Be prepared for emergencies – No one likes to think about health emergencies, but unexpected accidents and illnesses can happen, especially by the water, in the heat, or around lots of “people food.” If you know you’ll be out for a few hours or the day, bring an “emergency kit” with key items, as noted above, that include a clean, fresh water, a water bowl, first aid kit, poop bags, treats and/or food, and dog sunscreen. Also, if you don’t already have pet insurance, it may be something to look into. Pet insurance plans are usually designed to cover unexpected accidents and illnesses, so if your dog gets hurt or sick, an insurance plan could reimburse you for a portion of your eligible veterinary expenses, making it easier to help them get the care they need to recover.