With the onset of winter here in the Ottawa region it is worth mentioning that wintertime with your service dog may require some extra preparation on your part. Although it may seem cumbersome and unnecessary to those who are uneducated about the needs of service dogs (and even therapy dogs) here in snowy Ontario, it is vitally important to make sure that your faithful companion is well taken care of in the event of a winter storm.
In many cities within a few hours’ drive hundreds of drivers have been left stranded on major highways during winter storms. Most of them were caught ill-prepared. Don’t let this happen to you. Your winter car kit should include the following items for your dog:
- An extra blanket. In addition to the emergency blanket that you already have in your car, you should have an extra blanket for your service dog. The two of you can cuddle up together and use body heat to keep warm until help arrives.
- Extra food. If you feed your dog canned food, make sure that you have a can opener or pull top cans. If you feed your dog raw food, bring an extra container along in a cooler.
- Fresh water. In the event that you are caught on the roads, keep the water in the blankets with you to keep it from freezing.
- Leash. Regardless of how well your service or therapy dog is trained being caught in a snowstorm on the side of the road is a scary experience. A leash will allow rescuers and yourself to keep your dog safe in the event that you need to be transferred from the site to another vehicle.
- Pet First Aid Kit. This can be incorporated into your own first aid kit or a separate kit. St. John Ambulance sells both Canine and Human First Aid kits. Some local pet stores carry pet first aid kits as well.
- Medications. If your service or therapy dog requires any medications, make sure you have them with you when you travel.
- Service Dog ID. It is vital that you carry your service dogs ID with you. Many well meaning people are not educated about the importance of service animals having the proper documentation will allow authorities and rescue workers to make appropriate accommodations