MOUNTAIN AREA — Amanda Steen, co-owner with her sister Alison of Graydon Kennels in Coarsegold, offers some tips to area pet owners when traveling with pets during the scorching heat of summer.
“Whether your pet rides inside the car or truck or outside in the truck bed, higher temperatures mean even more precautions need to be taken,” Amanda says.
The best way of transporting pets “varies with each animal,” she adds. “There’s not a one-size-fits-all method. But to reduce the risk of heat stress, the most ideal situation is to have your pet seat-belted in on the inside of the vehicle with the air conditioning.”
Whether inside the vehicle or in a truck bed, “your dog should always be controlled to prevent distracted driving as well as increase the chance of survival if a crash occurs,” Amanda says.
With dogs, a harness should be used rather than a traditional collar. “Collars or training chains should never be used to transport an animal,” Amanda says. “You definitely don’t wont your method of control to be around a dog’s neck.”
She recommends using car seats “for tiny dogs. Car seats, seat belts or a traveling crate all work well when they are properly tied into a vehicle,” Amanda says.
“A controlled animal won’t be able to leap out of a window or exit the vehicle on their own.”
For transporting pets in truck beds, Amanda says the best option is “a hard plastic [transport] crate tied into the back of the truck.”
One of the transport tips her father, Michael Steen, taught her is to add wood shavings inside the crate. “On really hot days, they can be lightly dampened,” Amanda says. “The damp shavings will help keep the animal cool for hours.”
“Whenever you’re transporting a pet, you want it be an enjoyable experience or your pet’s going to stress about traveling,” Amanda says.
She recommends transporting animals in fully enclosed, hard plastic traveling crates. “The wire crates don’t provide shade.”
Amanda says ties should be made of a material “they can’t chew off.”
Ties also should not have too much slack or be attached around an animal’s neck. “Especially for animals riding in the back of trucks, too much slack could let your pet jump over the side — with possibly fatal consequences.”
Another hazard for pets during Valley summers are truck beds and other surfaces like asphalt that become extremely hot.
“In high heat, truck beds can get really hot and can burn the pads on a dog’s paws,” Amanda says. “Even a well-trained animal will try to jump out of a truck bed when it gets too hot.”
Another tip the Steen sisters learned from their father: “When dogs are tied in, you can cut a piece of plywood to fit over the truck bed and then attach some light-colored outdoor carpeting to the wood,” Amanda says. “It’ll keep your pet cooler and more comfortable. And you can spray the carpet with a little water on really hot days to cool it down too.”
Other tips for protecting animals in the heat are more straightforward. “Travel with plenty of water. Park in shaded areas. And never leave pets in a parked vehicle. Cracking a window will not prevent heat stroke or death,” Amanda says.
She also recommends having some “pet footwear” available to use to keep animals from burning their paws when they walk on hot pavement or asphalt.
Amanda’s final tip has to do with preparing for an emergency.
“Especially during fire season when people may need to evacuate quickly, they should always have a copy of the animal’s vaccination records,” she says.
“In an emergency, we can always open our doors here at the kennel, even if it’s midnight. But we can’t take animals in or help people if they don’t have valid vaccination paperwork.”