Last minute plans to travel this summer? Read our top tips for keeping your pet happy and healthy on holiday
For many pet owners keeping their pets by their side as they go on their summer holiday is a must, whether it’s abroad or at home in the UK. However, those that do must keep in mind how both travelling to, and arriving at, a new environment can affect the health and wellbeing of their pets.
There are a few things to bear in mind when preparing to travel with your pet. By taking the following steps, you can ensure your pet stays happy and healthy on holiday.
Does your pet want to travel?
Before finding out about how you can take your pet on holiday, it is worth thinking about whether your pet will find it a positive experience or whether it may be wiser to board your pet or leave them home with a carer. If you feel boarding is the answer, do your research first! Your vet may be able to recommend an establishment and you could plan a list of questions to ask the kennels or cattery: you will be able to get a feel for the place by this initial conversation. Some establishments may have state of the art facilities while others may be smaller: it’s all about what fits you and your pet best.
There are alternatives: pet sitters for example. The National Association of Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers is a good place to try to find someone suitable for your needs. Many cats are happy to be left at home with someone popping in to feed them, give them some attention and check all is well, but make sure you always leave your contact details and details of your vet in case of emergencies.
Protecting from disease
All good kennels will insist on an up-to-date vaccination certificate – talk to your vet about what is required.
If you plan to leave the country with your pet, it is recommended that your pet has a vet check-up to ensure that they have the correct vaccinations and proper protection against parasites and parasitic diseases. Details of what you legally need to do to bring your pet back into the UK are on the GOV.UK website.
Check out our page on going overseas with your pet, based on advice from the British Veterinary Association for more details.
Be prepared: if your pet is on medication or has been on medication for an on-going or recurrent condition, write down the name of the condition and the treatment that the pet has been receiving so that you can share this information with the vet where you are on holidays should your pet become sick. Also bring the contact details of your pet’s vet, in case for any reason you need to see a vet where you are on holidays and they need to discuss anything with your usual vet.
Another good idea is to do a bit of advance research and create a list of the contact details of the vet practices in the area where you will be on holidays. Should you need to contact them, you’ll know where they are and their phone number. You might think it will be easy to do this online – but remember you might not have good WiFi or data access!
Whether you are driving or flying to your holiday destination with your pet, there are a few ways that you can ensure your pet stays safe and secure during travel.
It is very important that you provide access to fresh water, as well as enough ventilation and shade when your pet is travelling to keep them cool and prevent them becoming distressed. If your pet does become overheated, placing a towel soaked in cold water onto their body can cool them down. If you are travelling with a rabbit, ferret or other small animal, you can pack a covered bottle of frozen water to keep by their side when travelling and keep their temperature down. It goes without saying: don’t leave your pet in a hot car, even if you are parked up for a short time in a motorway service station, for example.
Build into your schedule enough time for stops for a toilet break, a drink of water and a quick leg stretch to keep your dog comfortable on the journey – remember online journey time estimates won’t add this in!
You might want to give your dog a walk before you travel and if you can try to leave a couple of hours between feeding your pet and setting off. If your pet does suffer from travel sickness, then ask your vet’s advice before you go.
If you are driving, it’s as important for pets to be secure as for people – it’s a legal responsibility for dogs. There are different ways such as cages, pet carriers, dog guards and even safety belt harnesses and seat belt clips to ensure your pet is kept stable throughout their journey: choose what suits you and your pet best.
Keeping a routine, such as walking your dogs at similar times each day, as well as packing their favourite treats and food can help ease your pet’s anxiety in a new environment. It’s best to keep your pet’s diet to similar to that at home – just like with us, different foods can lead to upset tums!
By keeping these things in mind on holiday, as well as carefully monitoring your pet daily, such as checking in on their eating habits and general mood, you can ensure your pet stays happy and healthy this summer.