Taking your pet on holiday checklist

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

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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.’


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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.

Share treats

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.

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Hints on taking the cat on holiday?

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Remember that one you take your dog abroad they need to be chipped/ vaccinated and have a 21 day old rabies vaccination, within 1-5 days before arriving back to the UK the dog needs to get a worm treatment by a vet. If you forget one of these things the dog won't be allowed back in the UK.

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If your dog gets travel sick like my little Chorkie Ralph, I would recommend you buy some trave sickness or calming tablets. I get mine from a shop on the high street for under £3. Much cheaper than the £50 per tablet the vet recommended! Ralph travels much better now and is rarely travel sick. Highly recommend.

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I recently returned to the UK from the Middle East (after 17rs) with my two cats, Charlie and Lulla. I used a recommended Import/Export company and whilst not cheap (£2,000) they both arrived safely, if not a little shaken up by the experience. I have heard of many horror stories regarding cats/dogs and transport from the middle east and all I can say is - if you can't afford to fly them out with you, at least find them a good home there - don't leave them behind to 'fend for themselves'.

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