Dog-friendly Florida travel tips

Road trippin’ with your dog, Florida-style

Calypso and I tour the Sunshine State every chance we get. Here’s how I keep her cool.

Since Calypso came home with me, she’s been my constant companion in all sorts of endeavors; her stubby wiener legs have seen more excitement than most. She’s better at paddleboarding than most dogs, “works” as CL’s Barketing Director, and has her own Twitter and Facebook pages.

“She’s so calm!” people exclaim when they see her. “How did you do that?”

She’s not calm, I joke with people; she’s exhausted. While it’s tempting to think of her as a human companion, she isn’t — she not only has more fur (even if I am Italian), she can’t verbalize her needs. In the summer, that means I need to take extra steps to keep her healthy, safe and hydrated. Here’s what I’ve learned about keeping a hot dog chill in the summer:

• Seeing red! When we kayak, I tie a red bandana around her neck. If something should go horribly wrong, the red is highly visible from above and afar. Also, I can periodically remove it from her, dip it in the water, and wring it out over her fur.

• Along those lines, think about your pup’s fur: I had a Dalmatian once, and I had to put sunscreen on her snout and behind her ears when we went to the beach. White fur lets the skin underneath burn. Calypso has long black and tan fur, so sunburn isn’t an issue, but it gets wicked hot; I try and keep her fur wet when we’re outside so she doesn’t overheat (if you have a dark-furred dog, feel his fur after a 15-minute walk in July and you’ll see what I mean).

• Watch the paws! Fur isn’t the only thing that gets hot; your dog’s paw pads can burn, too. I learned this the hard way, and there’s nothing that breaks your heart more than a dog limping because of blisters on her paws. Here’s an easy way to tell if the pavement’s too hot: Place your palm on it. If it burns your palm, it will burn your dog’s paws.

• Pups need water. You can buy all sorts of collapsible dishes, and if you’re outside in the summer odds are you have a water bottle with you already. At a minimum, carry a water bottle with a top your dog can use for a bowl. How can you know if your pooch is dehydrated? Pull a but of her skin away from her body; if it snaps back right away, she’s fine. If it takes a second or longer to go back into place, she needs water.

• Give them pupsicles. If you have a dog that won’t drink when he’s warm, look into pupsicles — doggy popsicles. They keep pups hydrated but your dog feels like he’s getting a food treat. Win/win.

• Lifejackets are a (sometimes uncomfortable) necessity on a boat, especially for a dog. It didn’t take our dogs too long to get used to theirs, but they do get hot inside all that lifesaving gear. Keep your dogs’ fur wet, keep them hydrated and, every chance you get, tell them they look cute.

This article originally appeared in Creative Loafing.