Planning a Summer Holiday with your pet

Holidaying with your pet

The summer holidays are so close we can almost feel the sand between our toes and smell the suncream on our noses! But what are the things you need to consider when planning a summer holiday with your pet? Read on for our top tips and tricks when it comes to holidaying with your furry (or feathered, scaled, or hooved) friend.

Can I take my pet on holiday?

The first thing to think about is what’s best for your pet. While many dogs absolutely love visiting new places and exploring everything on offer, smaller pets may find it too much of a challenge. In fact, the RSPCA advises that cats, rabbits and small animals that aren’t familiar with travelling shouldn’t be taken on holiday, because the experience is likely to be too stressful for them. Remember that the experience of going away should be fun for everyone!

If your pet is likely to find strange surroundings upsetting, they may be happier booked into boarding kennels or staying at home under the care of a responsible friend or sitter. Remember that kennels, catteries and other pet boarding facilities book up fast. Especially for the summer holidays, so make sure you get in quick to secure the dates you need.

Taking your pet on holiday in the UK

Going on a ‘staycation’ has become more and more popular since the pandemic (and tend to be less stressful than taking your pet abroad), but there are still things to think about beforehand. Some beaches are closed to dogs at certain times of year, or there may be local hazards such as steep cliffs, ticks or sandflies. Do a bit of research online before you travel, so you know what to expect. Remember to make sure your pet is up-to-date with their parasite protection.

If you have a tendency to be a last-minute packer, then taking your pet away with you can add a whole new dimension. Careful planning beforehand will help you both enjoy your break. Pets should be microchipped, as well as wearing a collar with your mobile telephone number clearly marked. Take a supply of your usual pet food to avoid upset tummies, as well as bedding, a lead, and some basic first aid supplies. A travel water bowl is always useful, too.

It’s also a good idea to look up the contact details of a vet local to where you’ll be staying and store the number in your phone, so that you’re prepared if you need treatment or advice in a hurry.

Taking your pet on holiday abroad

Lengthy journeys and flying can cause significant stress to our pets, so do think very carefully about their welfare before considering any overseas trips with them in tow. 

EU entry requirements

If you’re hoping to travel to the European Union in the not-too-distant future, bear in mind that Brexit has resulted in some significant changes to the EU Pet Travel Scheme. So start your planning early and allow plenty of time to get organised before you travel.

Check the latest Government advice to find out more, and for further information on travelling with pets outside the EU. Speak to your vet to get more detail on what exactly is required. And, of course, you’ll also need to keep an eye out for whatever international travel restrictions may be in place at the time.

Travel sickness

Some animals get travel sick due to a disruption of the vestibular system. If you know your pet struggles on long car journeys, it would be a good idea to bring medication to support animals who suffer with travel sickness – you should contact your vet so that they can prescribe the right medication for your pet. If you’re driving to your holiday destination, make regular stops for walks on the way, allowing your dog to do its business and have a breath of fresh air. And, of course, you should always provide plenty of fresh drinking water.

Checklist for packing

  • European pet passport with your pet’s chip number in it, vaccinations and a possible health declaration
  • If applicable, a copy of your pet’s Pedigree papers
  • Your veterinarian’s phone number and the details of a veterinarian at your destination
  • Collar with tube to insert your holiday address and phone number
  • A clear photo of your pet
  • Nutrition
  • Water for the journey
  • Food and drinking bowls
  • A dog carrier, blanket or travel crate
  • Lead and/or harnesses and a product for securing your pet in the car (this is required by law in some countries)
  • Toys
  • First Aid kit & tick remover
  • Any medication your pet needs
  • Care products (brush, shampoo etc.)
  • Dog poop scoops and poop bags
  • A muzzle if necessary

On holiday

How to help your pet settle on holiday

For pets who are going on their first holiday, they may find the change of environment unsettling, so to help them settle into their new surroundings, why not take along their own (unwashed!) bedding and a familiar toy. Even though you’re on holiday, also try to stick to your normal routine for feeding and exercise as much as you can, and don’t let dogs off the lead until you’re sure they’re confident and settled.

Dealing with the heat

If you’re lucky enough to be in a lovely hot country for your summer holiday, your pet may be at risk of overheating! So, here are our top tips on keeping your pet safe during the heat of summer:

  • Never leave pets in hot cars! When it’s 22°C outside, temperatures can quickly rise to 47°C in cars, conservatories, outbuildings or caravans, which can be fatal to our four-legged friends.
  • Use a pet-safe suncream on exposed parts of your pet’s skin, such as the tips of their ears and nose, to avoid sunburn. This is especially important if your pet has white or light-coloured fur, as they can be very vulnerable to getting burnt. If you’re unsure which is the right product to use, please ask your vet.
  • Give your pet damp towels to lie on or an ice pack wrapped in a towel. Both simple methods provide welcome relief from the heat. Be sure to never place a damp towel over your pet as this can trap in heat!
  • Consider using a cooling jacket or cooling mat for your pet to sit on
  • Don’t walk dogs on hot pavements. If it’s too hot for your hand, then it’s too hot for their paws. Instead, walk your dog in the evenings or early morning when it’s cooler.
  • Get a paddling pool! If you’re in an area which sells pool floats, chances are there will be mini paddling pools for sale too. Dogs may appreciate a paddling pool to splash around in, although not all dogs like water, so there’s no need to force them if they don’t want to go for a dip!

Final thoughts

Holidaying with a pet can improve your holiday in so many ways, as long as you come prepared. This is your holiday too, and you’ll be keen to relax, but you still need to keep an eye on your pet if they’re in an unfamiliar environment. With a little forward planning, you can all enjoy a great break together and soak up the sun, sea and sand in a safe and joyful way!

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