Taking your pet on holiday checklist
Bringing your pet along for your family vacation? Make sure it’s a happy holiday for all with our expert tips
Can’t bear to be parted with your pet, even on holidays? The good news is that four-legged friendly accommodation in the UK now makes it even easier to take your pet with you on your vacation. This also means you get to save a bundle on any kennel costs and the emotional worry of leaving your beloved pet behind. But travelling with your pet takes pre-planning. It’s not just a case of packing your bags and popping Fido into the back seat of the car. Do your homework to ensure you, your family and your furry friend all have the best possible break.
Taking your pet on holiday – before you go
Stock up on special foods
Is your pet on a particular diet? If so, make sure you stock up in advance (and make sure there’s room in the car for any dog supplies along with your family’s luggage). Check out the best nutrients to keep your dog healthy all year round.
Don’t forget your pet’s medication
Does your pet need any special medicine while you’re away? Or require a regular worming or flea treatment? Check you have enough to last for your trip in your luggage.
Step up security
Don’t run the risk of losing your pet. Fit a microchip (you can find out how from your local vet), or if you already have one, check that the details on the database are up to date. ‘Make sure your dog is wearing a securely fitted collar with your name, address and telephone number,’ says IAMS vet Dr Monica Lundervold MRCS. Dr Monica also suggests making sure your mobile number is on the collar too as you’re going to be away from home.
Buy these essentials
‘Useful items to take with you on your travels include a map of the area you’re visiting so you can identify good walks,’ says Sarah Wright, editor, Your Dog magazine. ‘A tidal chart is really useful for walks on unfamiliar beaches; a guide book to dog-friendly pubs and visitor attractions, she says. Sarah also recommends noting down the name of the local vet where you’re travelling too.
Taking your pet on holiday – on the journey
Don’t feed big
‘Take your pet’s regular food with you and feed him or her a light meal around their normal eating time,’ says Dr Monica. ‘Make sure your pet is allowed to rest and digest food for two hours before continuing on your journey.’
Use the correct container
The UK Highway Code says that when in a vehicle: ‘Make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you if you stop quickly’. Your pet should preferably travel in a container. The container needs to be positioned somewhere where it won’t move when you accelerate, brake or go around corners and isn’t exposed to strong sunlight. ‘Buy a travel carrier which is strong and easy to clean in case your pet soils it or gets travel sick,’ says Dr Monica. ‘It should allow your pet to sit and stand up at full height, turn around and lie down in a natural position.’
Make plenty of regular pit stops for food, water and a little light exercise. And make sure your dog is getting some air. Signs of overheating include heavier panting and more barking or whining. Your dog might also drool more. Never leave your dog in the car while you disappear off. ‘Make sure someone says with your pet in the car,’ says Dr Monica. ‘Cats and dogs die in hot cars every year.’
Bring something friendly
The journey and the getting there can all seem strange to your pet, so bring along a comforting slice of familiarity, such as a favourite blanket or stuffed or chewy toy to help relax him or her.
Taking your pet on holiday – enjoy it when you get there
Watch out for the weather
When it’s sunny, white cats and dogs and those with white ears have a higher chance of getting sunburn. Check with your vet before you go about an appropriate sun block and make sure you use it as directed. If it’s hot, try to avoid walking your dog on hot surfaces, such as sand or tarmac, as they can hurt their paw pads. And just like human, keep your dog out of the sun between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its most powerful.
If you’re self-catering on holiday, why not make this cooling treat for your dog, as recommended by Battersea Dogs Home. Mix your dog’s food with a little water and freeze it in a plastic cup. Remove the cup and your pet has a refreshing doggy ice lolly, custom made.
Check out dog friendly spots
Do your research to discover which local beaches allow dogs on them during holidays season. Or where are the nice green spaces where your dog can let off steam. Read our tips to practise safe dog walking . Always make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water available and that you incorporate plenty of shady stop-offs.