Saturday, June 6, 2015

Weekend beach trips with dogs

Katrina and her man Riley.

What are you up to this weekend? It’s getting a bit nippy, but it’s a long weekend (at least in some States downunder) and a lot of people I know are still committed to that one more beach holiday with their dogs. One of my favourite things in life is to go on a roadie with Phil. Turns out celebrity vet Katrina Warren has the same passion (thankfully she has her own dog, otherwise it could be awkward). I had a chat with her about her favourite beach and bush holidays, and a few holiday hazards to look out for.
Can you tell us a bit about your canine family?
I have an adopted golden retriever named Riley who was rescued by Golden Retriever Rescue after he was found dumped in a crate outside Griffith pound. He was in very poor condition at the time - riddled with fleas and horrible wounds on his legs. I fostered him in 2010 and nursed him back to health - and he has never moved out! He fits in well with my family and my daughter Charlotte and I adore him. Riley also shares a special bond with our maine coon cat Mr Fox and they rarely leave each other’s side. Although Mr Fox is definitely the boss!
This is my favourite beach holiday pic of Bosca. 

What is it about a beach or bush holiday with your dog that is so much fun?
More and more people are choosing to travel with their pets and so we are seeing this trend of pet-friendly holiday destinations right across the country. Dogs really do make the perfect holiday companion. They are part of the family so there is no need to leave them at home when embarking on an adventure.
Anywhere near the beach or bush is the perfect destination to enjoy with your pets. Many areas now have an abundance of dog-friendly areas such as off-leash beaches and parks where owner and pet can stretch their legs and enjoy some special bonding time.
Some dogs love a swim. Just make sure you pick a dog-friendly beach.

What sorts of activities do you enjoy with your dogs at the beach?
Dogs love exploring new environments. My dog Riley and I love a long beach walk – although Riley often gets side-tracked with digging holes in the sand and rolling around on the shore. He is the perfect holiday companion.
Any favourite beach or bush holiday spots for you?
I love the Shoalhaven region on the South Coast NSW. Culbura is a favourite pet-friendly holiday destination with a great mix of pet-friendly accommodation and activities. The Shoalhaven’s off-leash areas include beaches, parks, rivers and trails, all of which are perfect for running or relaxing. Riley and I had such a wonderful time there and are already planning our next visit.
Why do people need to be tick aware when holidaying with their pets?
A family holiday can be great fun when your pets are invited too, but careful preparation is important to ensure the whole family has a safe and healthy time. One of the biggest mistakes people make when travelling with their dog is not researching whether or not paralysis ticks are prevalent in the area they are going to. This often happens when people live in a tick-free area and travel to a coastal destinations for their holiday.
I recommend you phone the local vet at your holiday destination and ask if paralysis ticks are prevalent in the area. Paralysis ticks are deadly and you need to start long-lasting preventative treatment at least two weeks prior to departing for your holiday. Think about the activities your pet may be involved in while you are away, as that will help you work out the best treatment option with help from your vet. You should also make sure that you check your pet for ticks thoroughly every day while you are away [Ed - a short "tick" crew cut definitely makes this process easier]. Nothing ruins a holiday quicker than a sick member of the family or worse still, the need to head home early!
Phil models the ubiquitous summer "tick" cut, designed to make daily tick searching more effective.
In terms of a health threat to dogs, how serious can tick paralysis be?
Paralysis ticks are the single most dangerous parasite for dogs on the eastern coast of Australia, with just one tick capable of causing paralysis and even death They usually live in bushy coastal areas and are most prevalent from spring to autumn, but worryingly for pet owners, in some areas they may occur at any time of year.
The paralysis tick causes paralysis in a variety of forms, but typically starts with weakness of the rear legs and a wobbly walk, progressing to total paralysis of all four legs, and death due to paralysis of the muscles that allow breathing. Other early symptoms include the appearance that the dog has something stuck in its throat (gurgling), vomiting or heavy, loud breathing and not being able to bark properly.
What do you do to protect your dogs against ticks?
Prevention is essential and you must take precautions if you live in a tick area or are travelling to the east coast on holidays. It is also important to search your dog thoroughly every day. Ticks commonly attach around the head so be sure to check in and around ears and also under any collars.
I have seen first-hand the reality of not protecting dogs against paralysis ticks. In addition to regularly checking your pet for ticks, I also recommend using a preventative product to help protect your pet from these harmful parasites.
You cannot be too careful when it comes to paralysis ticks. They cause much distress to your dog and treatment is difficult and expensive. Talk to your vet and be prepared this tick season with the best protection and the right plan for prevention.
I’m proud to be associated with a revolutionary new treatment called Bravecto® as brand ambassador. 

Watch out for stingers too.
Any other holiday hazards that pet owners should watch for? 
It is important to be aware of your surroundings while holidaying with pets. On a particularly hot day make sure to give your dog plenty of water to prevent them from becoming dehydrated which can lead to heat stress. Try to keep them indoors whenever possible or stick to a shady area when outside. If you plan to spend a day at the beach be sure to bring a nice big shady umbrella! 
For humans, trying new foods we don’t eat at home can be a highlight of the holiday experience, but, for our four-legged friends, a sudden change of diet can cause tummy upset – so don’t let them overindulge at the beach BBQ. I would recommend packing your pet’s regular food as you can never rely on being able to buy it at your holiday destination.
Pets also often run away when they are taken to a new environment, so be careful! Make sure you have an ID tag with a contact number of where you are staying. Your home phone number is no good when you are not there and mobile reception can be poor in remote areas. When you arrive at your destination keep your pet confined indoors. With dogs, be sure to keep them on a leash for the first few days whenever outdoors.
Do you have a favourite beach or bush holiday memory with your dogs?
I travelled extensively with my previous dog, Toby and there are so many wonderful pet friendly destinations- we had a ball exploring the Great Ocean Road, Victoria and checked out some great wineries together in Margaret River, WA.  [Ed - if you are checking out a winery with your dog, remember grapes are potentially toxic to dogs].

Thanks Katrina.
Declaration: Dr Warren is a brand ambassador for Bravecto. Talk to your vet about the best strategies to prevent ticks on your dog. Cats are also susceptible. Do NOT use dog tick products for cats. This can be harmful and potentially fatal.