July: Travelling with pets
Welcome to the July edition of our ‘What does pet health look like?’ series. This month, as the summer is now upon us, we are looking at how to keep your pets happy and healthy when you’re travelling.
When booking your holiday this year it’s important to factor your pet into your plans. Whether you’re taking your pet along with you either in the UK or abroad, or whether your pet is having their own ‘staycation’ while you’re away, it is important to ensure that they have as good a summer holiday as you do.
Think about where you are going and what you will be doing on holiday – will your pet enjoy it? Will it be very hot? Will there be long periods in the car? Some things may mean your pet may be happier not to come. There are a number of good alternatives to taking them away with you.
Small furries and cats are unlikely to want to travel (and cats may want to escape when they arrive – the homing instinct is strong!), so will probably be better staying at home being looked after by a friend or relative (with advice on their usual routine and your vet’s number to hand), by a professional sitter or being boarded – International Cat Care has some excellent advice https://icatcare.org/advice/keeping-your-cat-safe/choosing-boarding-cattery on what to look for when you choose a cattery.
If you want to leave your dog in your own home, realistically someone will need to stay there. This could again be a friend or relative that is able to commit to spending time with your dog and give them the exercise and attention they need, or if this isn’t a possibility organisations like the The National Association of Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers or Trusted Housesitters https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/gb/ can suggest someone suitable for your needs. Alternatively there are many good boarding kennels where your dog can stay – Blue Cross https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/how-choose-good-boarding-kennel gives good advice on what to look out for.
If you are taking your pet abroad then there are legal requirements in relation to leaving the country and travelling back to the UK. See your vet first to ensure they have had all the relevant vaccinations and for advice on all your pet’s travel healthcare requirements. You also need to check that your carrier will allow your pet to travel with you.
If you are travelling in the UK, then things are easier, but there is still plenty to think about.
We spoke to Naomi Hosker about travelling with her beautiful dog Skye and asked her for some tips; read her story below.
You say Skye camps, and competes in agility training all over the UK. How do you ensure Skye travels comfortably?
Skye needs to be restrained when she travels, to ensure her safety. She travels in the back seat of my car in a bed with a plug-in seat belt clip that attaches to her harness because she is too small for any of the purpose-made car harnesses.
Have you ever taken Skye abroad?
Skye has never been abroad and I would only really consider it is if we were to qualify for any of the teams to represent England in Agility. Seeking healthcare advice before travelling would be very important to me to mitigate the risks of taking such a small dog overseas – for example, in preventing ticks and other parasitic diseases.
How do you ensure Skye settles into new surroundings?
Skye is very at home camping and travelling to shows and it takes very little adaption to make her comfortable in the tent, in a hotel or in any new surroundings. I make sure she has her beds, blanket and toys and she settles well. We have a “garden” around the tent at most places we camp.
What travel arrangements do you take to make sure Skye stays happy and safe?
In a hotel I make sure we have a crate to make sure she can be safely left and feel more secure (she sleeps in her crate at home).
We go on other holidays as well as to agility shows and we have been in plenty of places in England and Wales where we have stayed in holiday cottages. Again, I take her crate to make sure she feels safe and secure, as well as taking her usual toys and bedding. The picture below is her relaxing in a cottage on the Isle of Wight earlier this year.
What advice would you give to others wanting to take their pets on holiday?
I would advise pet owners to always ensure that their dog is appropriately restrained in the car and to make sure they are comfortable when travelling.It’s also important to make sure that dogs are happy in the car before travelling for long periods. When staying anywhere with your dog,make sure they have all their familiar bedding, food and toys and a safe place for them to retreat to if they are feeling insecure. Make sure you check whether the hotel, holiday cottage or campsite allows dogs and if they charge for them staying. If there is a garden to the cottage, ensure it is secure before letting your dog out.
These are some fantastic tips from Naomi! For more advice and information on travelling with your pets, take a look at our website: http://www.pethealthinfo.org.uk/travelling-with-pets.
The full ‘What does pet health look like?’ series includes owner-led advice and tips on a range of relevant topics throughout the year such as preventing ticks, fleas, worms and skin conditions; responsible feeding, diet and exercise; grooming and dental care; vaccinations; and the importance of companionship.