Travel with your dog or cat can be a really rewarding experience. Time spent with our best furry friends is hard to beat! As the summer holidays are rapidly approaching, there are many of us (here at Petrest included!) that are looking forward to some downtime with our pooch or kitty. We’ve gathered 10 tips to ensure you, Felix, and Fido have a great time on your adventures!
In the Summer of 2015, one of our team–Nicole, in Marketing- had the opportunity to do the 500 mile North Coast 500 tour of the Scottish Highlands. Spending two weeks driving over 1000 miles from the
South East of England all the way around the stunning scenery of the Highlands, with a quick stop over on the Isle of Skye, was brilliant. This holiday was improved by having her two dogs join her on the journey. Manchester Terrier Finlay and Nucky the Chihuahua/Pug cross belonging to her sister. Nicole’s sister was also there too, although she did try to leave her at the motorway services once or twice!
Two weeks of driving and camping every night is Nicole’s idea of bliss, and camping with Finlay is one of her favourite pastimes! Nicole’s sister rescued her dog, Nucky, in China and flew with her the 6000 or so miles home, landing in Switzerland and travelling through Europe for a rendezvous in Calais. We caught up with Nicole and asked her to help out with this week’s blog post.
Our Travel Tips
Here are our top ten tips, we’ve taken the time to give some real-life insight into why each tip is important, asking Fee and Nicole for advice every step of the way. If you have any more to add please feel free to leave us a comment in the comment section!
1. Pet Friendly Travel Destinations
Arguably the most important thing to do when travelling with your pet is to ensure that your destination (or destinations en route) are pet friendly.
“When Fee and I travelled around Scotland we called up campsites in advance to check their dog policy. It’s worth noting that quite a lot of tourist attractions are not as dog friendly as we may like, but it’s also always worth asking! We were able to take Finlay and Nucky all around Nessieland in Loch Ness, just because we asked at the entrance before going in!
“If you really want to go into an attraction that isn’t dog friendly, see if there is doggy-day care or kennels for the day nearby. When we camped in Devon, one of the attractions had on-site kennels we could board the dogs in for a few hours while we went inside, they loved the mini holiday!”.
2. Acclimatise Your Pet
This one can be harder to do, depending on your plans for travelling. If you’re planning a long car journey, be sure to take your pet on shorter journeys first to get them used to the movement of the vehicle. This is especially true for cats, they do not naturally like the car but some feisty felines will learn to love it quite quickly!
“When Fee lived in China she was only once able to fly Nucky from one province to another, but the journey from Shanghai to Switzerland was much longer than she was used to. Luckily Nucky was a happy jet-setter. Finlay & Nucky are lucky enough to have been taken on lots of shorter camping trips before, but we were still cautious to watch for signs of distress and we consulted vets before travelling”.
3. Travel Paperwork and Vaccines
Good research in this area is paramount. Travelling around the UK does not require any special paperwork and all vaccines are only highly recommended by veterinary clinics. There are different rules in other countries, for example travelling between states in the US requires a special documentation for health and animal importation.
When travelling into the UK from another country with your dog, cat, or ferret, you can take advantage of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) , allowing them to travel to the UK from certain countries without the need for quarantine. This is provided they have fully up to date and documented rabies vaccines. Fee suggests keeping all of your pet’s documents in duplicate in a folder to travel with you. She also carried Nucky’s documents on a USB stick and had scanned copies saved on a cloud service she could access from any computer.
“Finlay needs medication every day to keep him healthy, so I made sure he had enough, plus a few days extra just in case. I’d strongly recommend getting the name of their medication translated into the language of your destination too (or making sure you have the clinical name written down clearly), in case something happens to your supply.
“You may wish to consider getting all of your pet’s travel and health documents translated and keeping them with your originals. When Fee arrived at the English border in Calais, we spent a good hour trying to translate documents with a reception officer; this would have been much easier if we had gained translations beforehand”
4. Pack Home Comforts
We may not think it, but our pets can get home sick too. Of course they will be really happy to be travelling with their human companions, but the scents and comforts of home can take the edge off of missing their own bed just as much as we do. Consider packing their favourite toy and blanket to wrap them up in or let them lay on.
When travelling on airlines, the rules can be very strict on what is allowed in carrier crates (both in the hold and in the cabin), check with your airline to see what you are allowed to keep in your pet’s crate as most will want a bare crate in the hold.
“When Fee travelled from Shanghai to Switzerland, she kept Nucky’s favourite toy (Goat!) and her favourite pink blanket in her crate during the flight as she was transported in the cabin. She also sent home some of Nucky’s favourite food she had in China, to make the transition to life in England a little easier.
“Finlay has a very favourite blanket that Fee made him when he was a puppy, and a favourite toy called Acid Duck. Yes, they go everywhere with us! Whenever he’s on holiday so is Blankee and Acid Duck!”.
5. Safety Clothing & Equipment
Depending on your planned activities, you may wish to look into pet specific safety clothing and equipment. A really simple example of this is specific water bottles with integrated bowl for your pet or a light up lead or collar for them to be visible in the dark.
“When Finlay and Nucky go camping they both have light up collars so they can be seen on a dark camp site. They are never allowed off the lead in the dark, this gives us an extra safety net should they slip their harnesses (more on that below)”.
A scheme that is growing in the UK is to use a colour coded system to show people how friendly your pet is. The bandanna allows people to see that he needs a little space. There are many options available for dogs who are really friendly, others who prefer not to talk to other dogs as well as deaf and blind dogs. This scheme is supported by big influencers such as the RSPCA, read more information here .
“Finlay wears a yellow “nervous” bandanna when he’s out because he’s very shy. He loves his family, but is a bit scared of people he doesn’t know and doesn’t really want to talk to anyone else. He LOVES other dogs though and wants to make friends with them all!”
For more specialist hobbies such as hiking, rock climbing, canoeing etc, there are a whole host of dog related equipment to make your escapades more fun and safer for your pooch! Don’t forget the harness with the action camera attachment to record your adventures too!
6. Create A Travel Packing List
We all know how it goes in the last 3-4 hours before we go on holiday. Have we packed the sunscreen? Do the kids have rain coats? Have we got the tickets printed? All of these questions and last minute panics can mean we forget things. It’s fair to assume that in most places we can get the important bits for our holidays (such as that forgotten tooth brush or shampoo) but getting pet essentials isn’t always that easy, and forgetting to pack a vitally important piece of paper for your pet could mean neither of you can travel.
“When Fee carried Nucky across the borders in Europe she had a packing checklist for herself as well as a separate one for Nucky. Simple things like food and blanket were on the list, but more important things like travel documents and vaccine records needed to be quickly accessible every time”.
7. Leads, Harnesses & Crate Check
“We make sure Nucky and Finlay have a light up collar on when it’s dark on camp sites. I’m especially vigilant on this because Finlay is a known escape artist! Before you travel always make sure all of your leads, collars and harnesses for your pet are in good working order and replace if necessary. Finlay has managed to slip every collar he has ever had and wriggle out of most harnesses. When I found one he couldn’t wriggle out of I immediately bought it, but I wish I’d bought three! I could have had some spares as it’s now fallen apart! His harness at the moment is quite good, but I’m always worried he’ll slip it when he decided he wants to go somewhere else!”.
It’s always a good idea to check with your airline about their rules regarding crates for travel. Most require a rigid plastic crate for hold travel and a soft sided crate for cabin travel
“Nucky’s hold crate was made out of a rigid plastic for a domestic flight and her crate for cabin travel from Shanghai to Switzerland was soft sided and collapsible”.
It’s worth noting that some airlines refuse to carry some breeds of short-nosed dogs due to breathing concerns. Others may only carry these animals at certain times of the year to reduce the risk of breathing difficulties. There are specific airlines that will allow short nosed dogs in the cabin.
When travelling with a pet in the cabin the rules are usually quite strict. You will probably not be allowed to remove your pet from their crate at any time during the flight (although you can usually carry the crate around for short trips to the toilet). Cabin pets can usually have their toys and blankets inside the crate. Pets in the hold are usually required to have externally accessible water bottle and an area where food can be dispensed to the pet without opening the crate.
It’s also worth noting that Heathrow Airport does not allow cabin pets, but they do allow hold pets. A customs broker must be present to remove them from the hold (at your expense). They will require a vet health check and documents check before they are released to you and the wait could be quite long (sometimes around 4 hours).
8. Vets En Route
We know the health of your pet is the most important thing to you. That’s why you’ve looked round and found the best vet you can near you and made sure Felix and Fido like him as much as you do, but what about when you’re away?
We recommend getting a list of nearby vets (especially those with emergency services) for your holidays. Ask your vet if there are any clinics she recommends near where you are going. If you’re travelling aboard be sure to do your research beforehand.
“Fee researched vets when she rescued Nucky and found Beck & Stone veterinary clinic in Shanghai. Dr. Beck had trained in Potters Bar and was committed to humane and clean practises in his surgery. Nucky was taken on the 6 hour coach for an overnight stay in Shanghai when she was spayed, given her vaccines and given a health check before flying.
“Fee needed to visit a Government registered vet for official documents. The Shenpu building in Shanghai issued the health certificate & worming tablet before Nucky was allowed to board the flight. Rules such as these are different all over the world so please check with your airline and travel agent. If you haven’t got a travel agent, ask your vet and do thorough research before travelling.”
9. Update Travel ID Tags
While it’s law to microchip your dog, this law doesn’t extend to cats. We at Petrest think it’s very important to microchip your pet for their safety and yours. If you’re travelling it’s also a good idea to put ID tags on your pet’s collar.
ID should consist of your name and contact number with the number and post code of your current address. It’s worth putting your holiday address on a separate tag too. You may also wish to consider putting a “my vet’s number” tag on your pet, especially if they are under the vet’s care.
“Finlay needs daily medication to keep him healthy and wears a deeply engraved vet number tag next to his ID tag just in case he gets lost”.
10. Take Small Breaks
When you’re travelling with your pet, you should plan to take regular breaks if at all possible. This isn’t as easy to do in the cabin of a plane as they are not allowed to leave their crate. Always plan your public transport and car journeys around smaller toilet and comfort breaks.
“We tend to drop into motorway services every hour or so to take the dogs out for a quick walk. I’ll park further away from the other cars and close to any grassy spots so Finlay and Nucky can do their thing quickly.
“As Finlay is an escape artist, he is clipped into the car using a special car clip that goes into the seatbelt and attaches to his harness (available in most major pet shops and online). I clip his lead onto the harness first and then release him as he has a habit of jumping out when he’s excited. Nucky is much easier as she travels in her soft crate when in the car!”.
We hope you found our top ten tips helpful, and enjoyed reading about Finlay and Nucky’s escapades across the globe! If you’ve taken your dog or cat (or ferret?!) on holiday we would love to see some pictures on our Facebook page, or you can Tweet them to us! Have any more good travel tips? Leave a comment below, we love hearing from you!