Canine Addison's Disease FAQ

Q. What should I know before driving long distances with my AD dog?

A. I literally drove all across North America with my three delightful whippets including the Grand Madame herself, CoCo the addisonian whippet, from British Columbia to Newfoundland via the US. So here goes, this is not a right way or wrong way, just what I did in order to try and be prepared for the worse case scenario happening. All dogs had complete bloodwork done 1 month before starting the trip and fortunately everything was fine. CoCo is on DOCP and hydrocortisone (formerly pred and florinef) so our druggie bag contained 10 mg cortef, 1 mg pred & 5 mg pred (I was prepared drug wise) had all the perscriptions topped up so we had lots of everything.

The emergency bag contained the following items:

stethoscope, rectal thermometer, KY jelly, isopropyl alcohol, raw honey, slippery elm powder, Dr. Goodpet calm stress, lavender oil, my emergency homeopathic kit, vet wrap, sterile gauze bandages, antibiotic ointment, witch hazel, hydrogen peroxide, calendula ointment, tea tree oil, syringes, Dr. Goodpet dia-relief and a laser. I also had copies of all the bloodwork and a photo of each dog if the worst thing happened that someone got lost so posters could be quickly made. Towels also came in handy. A medic alert tag was also on CoCo together with her regular ID. Make sure when you're travelling that the ID tag has an area code. Last but not least, secret ingredient to get any dog to eat, good old Heinz baby food such as lamb and chicken broth.

With all this stuff, plus the fact that I don't feed commercial pet food and had to travel with a large plug in cooler for the dogs' diet, the SUV was chock full with dogs and dog stuff. Of the three dogs, CoCo the addisonian was the only one who ate every meal, every day. After a week of having the two non-AD whippets not eating, I seriously considered giving them hydrocortisone to get them to eat (only kidding!). Dunkin Donuts muffins came in handy to at least get some calories into those zero body fat bodies.

The best advice I can give anyone contemplating a long journey is keep to a routine, which dogs thrive on. They had their normal morning exercise, even if it was just a number of laps around a hotel parking lot. Medications at the same time and meals at the regular time. My biggest concern was water since that can be a problem for dogs and diarrhea with addisons was more of a concern. I decided on using the Evian brand because I felt I could get it all across North America, and the bottling was all from the same source. It was a good choice, you can get Evian at the smallest gas station in the smallest town so the water source was kept consistent. I also found Vienna sausages the perfect medium to slip the medication in and again a product that I could purchase anywhere and the tin has those pull top lids.

Believe it or not I didn't have to up her medication once during this very long car trip, though we did have a bout of loose stool which I attributed to the incredible heat in Montana and North Dakota, temperatures were over 100 so slippery elm came in handy. For any dog owner that doesn't have this fabulous product on hand I would highly recommend that you get some.

Tips for travelling with dogs, carry towels and some large flat sheets. Hotels appreciate that you remove their blankets and cover the beds with your own flat sheets. Bring lost of appropriate size plastic bags so you can CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR DOG, PLEASE!!!!! I was amazed at the rest stops. We would go to the pet exercise area and people hadn't cleaned up. Bring a small pen flash light so when you take the dog out at night you can see what you have to clean up. It makes all us dog owners look bad. If you're too good to clean up from you dog, then you don't deserve a dog. Don't leave your dog in your room unattended for one minute, one bark is all it takes to have someone complaining. Brush your dogs outside so there's no dog hair in the room and a tin of odour neutralizer to spray the room, just in case the next person who takes that room has the smellers of a bloodhound.

A cutting board, dish detergent for cleaning bowls and a dish cloth and towels - don't use the hotel towels. Assume every other hotel guest dislikes dogs. If you're waiting for an elevator and someone else comes along, ask if they mind if the dogs get on board. Believe it or not, some do, for whatever reason and the courtesy is appreciated.

I didn't have a problem at any hotel or motel and I was travelling with 3 dogs. One Sheraton did require a damage deposit and the head of housekeeping had to check the room before the deposit was returned, which it was. If your dog has poor manners, take some time to do basic training before embarking on a trip. We were staying at one large hotel in a large city when I needed to go into the hotel gift shop. The fact that I could put the 3 whippets in a sit/stay and go in and they looked too cute helps alot.

Maybe the fact that I felt I was prepared to cover must emergencies, short of surgery, gave me peace of mind and maybe my peace of mind helped the dogs. I firmly believe that our AD dogs are extremely intuitive to our emotions and are mirrors of ourselves. Set a reasonable driving schedule each day and plan some extra time for the unexpected so you'll still be on schedule.

(courtesy Deborah S)

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