Are you planning a 'staycation' with your pet?
More and more people are choosing a summer holiday here in the UK rather than heading abroad - and many will take their beloved pets with them. Vet Marc Abraham offers some tips for trouble-free travel
In these straitened times, the summer getaway in the Med has become a luxury too far for some, so cheaper holidays in Britain - or 'staycations', as they've been dubbed - are back in vogue. And for pet owners, there is the added benefit that your animal companion can come with you, instead of being left behind as you jet off for a week or two in the sun. But how can you make sure that a staycation with your pet goes smoothly this summer?
Firstly, when looking for accommodation, ensure that your chosen hotel, campsite, caravan or bed-and-breakfast is completely pet-friendly before booking and handing over your cash. Also, ask about any restrictions or extra charges for pets, as you don't want any surprises on checkout.
Make sure you've researched the local veterinary surgeries at your destination and noted their numbers before setting off. And don't forget any medications - such as heart tablets, insulin or arthritis pills - as they may be hard to obtain at a different vets without the relevant full clinical history.
Your dog should be placed in a harness such as this one if you are travelling long distances in the car (image courtesy of www.dougalsden.co.uk)
Never travel with 'loose' pets - they may become nervous and panic, and could try to escape through open windows or doors before you can grab them. Always make sure your pet is microchipped too, in case the worst should happen.
If you're travelling by car, any sudden stop or even an accident may send your pet flying forwards. Dogs should be securely fastened using a special pet harness (pictured), padded crate or purpose-built caged area, while cats should always be in a cat carrier secured to the seat. Plan to travel when there's less chance of traffic, especially in hot weather - and always provide an ample supply of cool, fresh water, making sure any spillages are spotted.
Many dogs and cats don't travel well by car, so it's always a good idea to ask your vet for help in the shape of safe travel-sickness pills (although half a ginger biscuit on an empty stomach can work quite nicely too). Pheromone products such as sprays and collars can also help greatly and are perfectly safe to use. Better still, you could take the time to feed your pet in a stationary car, and then reward short journeys with treats to reduce car-related anxiety.
Sadly, we still hear of too many incidents where pet have suffered from heatstroke or died after being left in hot cars. Please, never leave animals alone in vehicles during the warmer months, as even a short time with the windows slightly open they can prove fatal to your pet - and they could be stolen too.
Marc Abraham is a TV vet who regularly gives the nation pet advice on This Morning, BBC Breakfast and Daybreak. As well as promoting responsible pet ownership, rescue pet adoption, microchipping and responsible dog breeding, Marc is also an active campaigner against the puppy farming industry and is the founder of Pup Aid. Marc has also written the books Vet on Call and Pets in Need and also has the Canine Care iPhone app for dog owners. For more about Marc, visit www.marcthevet.com or follow him on Twitter @marcthevet