two dogs with toy ropeBy Jennifer Cummings, M Ed. – Positively Green –

Spring is a wonderful time to get the entire family outside for walking, hiking, biking, and so many great activities!      –

More than ever before eco-friendly families are bringing their pets along to join in the fun. From picnicking to canoeing, pets are found in more and more places as families head outside to throw off those winter blues! From sunny pond shores to shady walking paths, here are a few things to consider when you plan your next pet-friendly outing:

Dogs should generally be leashed in public places.

When public facilities allow owners to bring their dogs, it is often a courtesy, not a right. Owners are responsible for controlling the behavior of their dog in all circumstances- from meeting strangers to seeing squirrels or other animals. You never know when you may meet someone who is afraid of dogs or you may come upon another dog who is not friendly. By keeping your dog on a leash and maintaining control at all times, you make sure he is on his best behavior and stays away from situations that can be harmful to him. Need to get your pooch off leash for some exercise? Visit your local dog park or public park that has a designated area for off-leash activities.

Scoop your poop.

No one likes to step in poop- especially someone else’s. Also, like all poop, dog feces contain millions of bacteria that can make people sick. Left uncleaned, those bacteria can find their way to people, through water or even on children’s hands then they play outdoors. When heading out with your dog, make sure you plan ahead with a disposable bag, just in case your best friend hears the call of nature while you’re out. Be sure to toss used bags in an appropriate receptacle, not in the woods along your walk.

Bring pets that are appropriate for the environment.

People have lots of different kinds of pets in their homes and love to include their animal friends in all of their family activities. From snakes to rabbits and guinea pigs to iguanas, there are very few animals that aren’t someone’s pet. However, when you’re thinking about bringing your pet out with you for some together time make sure it really is the best thing for your animal. Cold-blooded animals such as snakes and lizards can be affected by cold or hot temperatures, as can small mammals. Being in new locations or meeting lots of new people easily frightens some pets. Also, if small animals such as ferrets get loose, it can be almost impossible to catch them outside. Still want to take your fuzzy (or scaly!) friend with you? Make sure you have the best safety harness or equipment for your pet and use it while you are out and about.

Bring supplies with you for your furry friend.

Pets require water just as humans do. Make sure you have water packed for your furry companion so they can be offered a drink when you stop to rest. Do you need a snack while you’re out? Need to pack a toy so your pet can play with the kids for awhile during the day? Think about packing a bag for your pet, with a small treat and a favorite toy for your pet, and a drink, too. That will give you (and your pet!) a pick-me-up during your day adventure!

Heading out on the water? Think prevention.

Although many pets can swim, even the best swimmers get tired if they are in the water for too long or if they get injured when jumping in unexpectedly. When boating, canoeing, or enjoying other water sports with your pet, think about getting an animal life vest. They come in many sizes and even have a handle so pets can be scooped out of the water more easily. (Don’t forget- life jackets aren’t only a good idea for your pet- everyone should use one, even you!) Out on the water for the day? Don’t forget to stop for bathroom breaks for your pet.

Check ahead if overnight trips are planned.

More hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts are open to having guests’ companion animals stay overnight, but that courtesy is not the general rule. If you and your family are planning to go away for an overnight vacation, call ahead to your hotel to make sure they accept pets. Don’t be surprised to find a small additional fee and a set of pet rules during your stay; even pet-friendly establishments need to maintain guidelines for everyone’s safety.

Make sure vaccinations are up-to-date.

When your pet goes to parks, beaches, or anywhere your family travels, they can be exposed to illnesses that can make them very sick. From heartworm to distemper, there are a wide range of illnesses that your pet can be protected from. Before traveling check with your family veterinarian to make sure your pet’s vaccinations are updated- for everyone’s peace of mind.

As more families go green and enjoy the great outdoors they naturally want their best animal friends along for the fun. By taking some time to plan ahead you can make sure outings are fun for every member of the family when you get outside this spring and watch as the world turns Positively Green! Have fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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