If your pets get sad even when you’re just taking your garbage bins out and you feel that holidaying without them really isn’t an option, well, you’re not alone.
Many of my clients opt to take their fur-babies away with them because, after all, if you holiday without your pets it really feels like you’re leaving a member of the family behind!
However if you do decide to travel with your pet, it’s very important to plan ahead and be prepared. Because even though your pet will be delighted to not be left behind, traveling can actually be very stressful for both you and your pets if you’re not properly prepared.
1. Do your research
If you’re booking a place online, ensure it really is pet friendly. Many holiday homes that claim to be pet friendly do not actually let the pets inside the house, or they charge an exorbitant cleaning fee if they do let pets inside.
Always double check with owner before booking to confirm exactly what you can and can’t do if you do bring your pet on holidays with you.
If you decide to go camping, remember that camping grounds located within National Parks don’t allow dogs or cats. And at pet-friendly camping grounds you’ll need to bring a lead, a crate or some sort of fencing to secure your pet, as the sites are not fenced.
2. Write a list before you go
Because pets often feel unsafe in strange environments or when they’re out of routine, it’s a good idea before you leave home think about all the essential and familiar things you’ll need to take with you to make your pet comfortable and secure.
Your essential list may include:
· their bedding, including any toys or comforters
· collars & leads (it’s a good idea to attach an ID tag with your contact details on it in case they escape)
· their food, any treats, and bowls for water & food
· old towels for drying them off at the beach or cleaning up any unexpected accidents in the car or at your destination
· water litter trays and cat litter or plenty of dog poo bags
· any medications your pet may be on
3. Ensure your pet is safely restrained
It’s vital you keep your pet and your family safe by properly restraining your pet in the car. As much as your children may enjoy cuddling your pet on their lap, any unexpected braking or sudden turning could severely injure or even kill your pet if they are not properly restrained.
If your pet is not restrained and is suddenly startled they could also become a dangerous distraction to the driver, putting the lives of everyone in the car (and on the road) at risk.
Your cat should travel in a cat carrier restrained by a seat belt. Ideally it should be big enough to stand up and turn around in, with a small litter tray at one end and their bedding at another end. Covering it with a towel can make them feel more secure.
Unless you have a barrier screen in the back of a station waggon, your dog is best restrained in a crate with bedding inside it or with a special harnesses that attaches to a seat belt, sitting on bedding in the back seat of your car.
4. Don’t feed too much before the trip
A full stomach can often make pets car sick, so it’s best to feed them a lighter meal before your journey.
If your pet gets anxious about travelling in the car or has a history of getting car sick, there are medications that may help, but you’ll need to get your pet examined by a vet first.
A mobile vet can come to your place to discuss the latest anti-nausea medications, as well as providing advice on how to help make your pet less anxious about car trips.
5. Make frequent stops and take bottled water with you
Just like travelling with young children, pets require frequent stops for toileting, to stretch their legs, breath some fresh air and to have a drink. Frequent stops can also help to prevent motion sickness, as well as any toileting accidents.
Always keep a stash of bottled water with you because finding a tap to fill their water bowl up can actually be harder than you think.
6. Watch the body language of your pet
If your dog suddenly starts panting, it’s not just that they might be hot.
Panting is also often a sign that they’re anxious and may need to do a wee or feel like they’re going to be sick, so pull over as soon as you can to avoid any accidents in the car.
7. Never leave your pet alone in a locked car
It’s illegal to do this and even with the windows down internal temperatures in your car can rapidly rise, quickly leading to dehydration and even death.
8. Always be prepared
Unfortunately, emergencies can and do happen so ensure you know the contact details of the local vet in your holiday destination.
Before you go on holidays make sure your pet is up to date with all their flea and tick protection, worming and vaccinations, and that you have enough of their medications to last while you’re away.
Be aware of any potential concerns at your holiday destination, including snakes, ticks, heartworm, cane toads, spiders or any other dangers.
9. Help them settle in
Cats, in particular, can find new surroundings scary and try to hide away, whilst dogs can be too eager to explore and either do damage to the surroundings or escape in all the excitement.
Leave cats in their carriers while unpacking and only let them out once your sure all doors are shut. Let them explore at their own pace and retreat back to their carrier when they want to.
Keep your dog on its lead and allow it to sniff around and explore the property before taking it on a long walk to settle it down after the trip.
10. Expect the unexpected
Remember, even if your destination is fenced, it may not be fully or securely fenced. Or the fence height may be no obstacle to a dog who does not want to be left alone, as Cathy found out on her recent holiday!
“After a lot of searching online we finally found the perfect holiday property at the beach where we could take our dog, Superman, the GSP, with us.
“However, once we arrived, we realised there was a major problem we’d completely overlooked…Superman could easily jump over the enclosed section of the backyard and he made it quite clear that he didn’t want be left behind when we went out!
“Luckily, we had a length of strong rope in our car, which we attached to his harness and tied to the deck, so he could safely wander around all the property and also be inside with us even when we had the doors open.
“And yes…he did end up coming to the beach with us every time we went!”
If you leave me, can I come too?
If you follow our ‘10 top tips for happy holidays with your pets’ you can create special memories that will last a lifetime, with the benefits far outweighing any extra planning that’s required.
At Vetaround we believe holidays should always be a relaxing and safe experience for all your family members, both human and non-human alike.
So if you have any concerns about choosing a destination, transporting your pet or settling them into a strange environment, contact us and a mobile vet can come to your place to assess your pet and provide advice.