Ripley required only minor first aid after stepping on the cactus but Ralston, age ten, inconveniently fell ill with some kind of undiagnosable ailment the day we left and appeared to be at death’s door during the entire first week of our trip. After consulting vets in three states he was eventually back to what passes for normal. We kept him hydrated and cool along the way with the help of this special mat and bandana.
Soak the mat in water to activate the “cooling crystals”, then plop it down as a place to ride in the car or rest in the shade. (I’m not sure of the manufacturer of Ralston’s safety orange version but the popular MiraCool mat is the same principle.) Combine this with a cooling bandana to keep your pet’s pulse points moist and he’ll comfortably pant with a cool belly and neck. Purchase the pictured human version at any REI but MiraCool also offers one that looks sharper on a dog.
I learned the warning signs to watch for when Ralston was ill from a Red Cross Pet First Aid class. Owners, you’ll have greater peace of mind roadtripping with your dog or cat when you know you’ll be ready to perform rescue breathing or administer stop-gap emergency treatments on your way to the nearest vet. You’ll also learn how to assemble a custom pet first aid kit, and the class workbook is a handy reference to keep in the glove compartment.