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7 Scariest Things That Can Happen to Pups on Vacation

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By Tim Falk

Published: 09/17/2021, edited: 09/17/2021

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Published: 9/17/2021

Vacationing with your pup — life doesn’t get any better than that, right? 

Traveling with a dog is usually an exciting and relaxing experience, but sometimes things go wrong and disaster strikes. And when these unexpected travel mishaps occur, the consequences can be serious.

But what are the scariest things that can happen to pups on vacation? And what can you do to protect your pooch against these common travel risks? Let’s take a closer look.


Getting lost

Going on vacation sometimes means exposing your dog to unfamiliar environments where they’ll encounter new sights, sounds, and smells. The whole experience can be a little overwhelming and even downright frightening for some dogs, and that’s a big part of why some pups go missing while on vacation.

For pet parents and pups alike, this can be a very scary situation, but there’s plenty you can do to prevent it turning into a disaster. Make sure your dog is microchipped and that your contact details are up to date. Keep them on a leash at all times when outside, and take extra care when they’re getting into and out of the car. 

And if the unthinkable happens and your pup does go missing, contact local animal control and rescue shelters to report your lost pet.


Wildlife worries

Do you love exploring the great outdoors with your dog while on vacation? Make sure you’re aware of the potentially dangerous wildlife you might encounter at your holiday destination.

Depending on where you are across the United States, this could mean anything from venomous snakes and paralysis ticks to wolves and bears. Coming face to face with some of these critters can be a dangerous and even deadly situation, so make sure you know the risks before heading out into the wilderness.


Beach dangers

The beach is a favorite vacation destination for many pet parents. And while all that sun, sand, and surf can be a whole lot of fun for dogs, it also poses a range of dangers. 

Perhaps the scariest situation for many pet parents is if their pup gets into trouble in the water. Even if your dog is a reasonably strong swimmer, there’s always the chance of them misreading the conditions or getting swamped by a wave. With this in mind, check the conditions carefully before letting your dog go in the water, and monitor them at all times for signs they may be struggling.

Another worrying problem that can occur on beach vacations is if your dog drinks saltwater. If they only swallow a few mouthfuls, the consequences may only be as serious as a bout of diarrhea. But if they swallow a lot of salt water, the results can be fatal.

Too much salt can be toxic for dogs, so make sure you’re familiar with the signs of salt poisoning. And if you think your dog has ingested too much seawater, seek veterinary attention straight away.


Eating a toxic plant

Does your dog like chewing things they shouldn’t? Do they think that every new plant or weed they come across is just a delicious meal they haven’t yet discovered? While there’s nothing wrong with a little curiosity, it could get your dog into trouble.  

Whether you’re out on a hike or just in the yard, there are several common plants that are toxic for dogs and could potentially be fatal. And if you’re on vacation, you may not be fully aware of which plants in the area could be hazardous for dogs.

Keeping a close eye on what your pup puts in their mouth is the best way to keep them safe, but seek veterinary attention if you’re at all worried about something in their plant-based diet.


Traveling in the cargo hold

Flying with a dog can be a relatively simple and stress-free experience — when your pup is allowed to join you in the cabin. But depending on the airline you choose and on your dog’s breed and size, they may be required to travel in the plane’s cargo hold. And for a dog, that experience can be quite scary.

Not only will they be separated from you, but they’ll also need to come to terms with loud and unusual noises as well as unfamiliar situations like the air pressure changing. Then there’s the fact that data from the US Department of Transportation shows that while animal deaths during air travel are reasonably rare, more deaths occur in the cargo hold than in the cabin.

With this in mind, think twice before putting your pup through the ordeal of plane travel in the cargo hold. You might decide that your dog is better off staying home.


Getting injured during travel

Just like flying with a dog, car travel also comes with its own risks. Pet health insurance provider Nationwide revealed that its members spent $36 million in 2018 to treat their dogs and cats for common travel-related medical conditions. Some of the common conditions treated included:

  • Motion sickness

  • Bruising or contusion from sudden vehicle stops

  • Sprain from jumping into and out of vehicle

  • Foreign object in nasal cavity, caused by inhaling debris while sticking their head out the window

  • Being hit by debris in the eye while sticking their head out the window

  • Laceration or puncture wound caused by things like sudden stops, being hit by debris, and jumping into and out of the car

A quick look at this list reveals the simple things you can do to prevent scary situations while road tripping with your dog. Keep them securely restrained at all times while driving, don’t let them hang their head out the window, and make sure they take care when hopping in and out of the car.


Being left alone in a parked car

Traveling with a dog is great fun, but having your dog along for the ride isn’t always convenient. One of the most common problems you’ll face when vacationing with your dog is that some places simply aren’t dog-friendly at all.

But if you stop somewhere and your dog isn’t allowed inside, be it a gas station, restaurant, or anywhere else, don’t head inside and leave your dog in the car. The temperature in a locked car can quickly reach dangerous levels, so get back on the road and head somewhere dog-friendly instead.

If you’re worried about the dangerous and potentially costly health risks awaiting your dog on vacation, check out our pet insurance comparison tool. Brought to you by Pet Insurer, Wag! Wellness lets pet parents compare insurance plans from leading companies like FIGO and Embrace

Learn more in the Wag! app

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