How to have a safe and happy holiday with your pets

Should you take your dog, cat or other pet with you on your travels? And how can you keep them well if you do go away? We get the facts on holidaying with pets!

Summer’s here and many of us will be thinking of going away in the not-too-distant future, Covid-19 restrictions allowing. It seems that, as a nation, we’re keen for our pets to join in the fun, too. When the last Petplan Pet Census canvassed over 60,000 pet owners in 2018, 49% said they’d based their choice of destination on their pet, while 39% had chosen a UK ‘staycation’ for the same reason.

Can I take my pet on holiday?

Potentially, yes – although it does need some thought and planning, especially if contemplating a future trip overseas. Taking the family pet along can improve the holiday if they’re a happy traveller, but 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. 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. 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.

Taking your pet on holiday in the UK

Holidays in the UK tend to require less planning than trips abroad, but there are still things to think about beforehand, including any local travel restrictions that may be in place. Also, 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.

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. If you’re taking your dog on holiday, take a look at our handy travel checklist.

Taking your pet 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. 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.

How to help your pet settle in on holiday

While anxious pets may feel more secure when they’re with you, they may also find the change of environment unsettling. You can help to minimise this by taking their own (unwashed!) bedding and a familiar toy along. Even though you’re on holiday, 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.

Travel sickness in pets

Some animals, including many dogs, suffer from travel sickness on long journeys, which is often exacerbated by excitement or stress. If your pet isn’t used to travelling by car, practise beforehand on shorter journeys to help them adjust to the motion. Take dogs for a long walk before the trip and feed them two or three hours beforehand, rather than at the last minute.

Any pet should be secured when in a car, either with a harness, a crate or a dog guard. Many products are available to help with the effects of travel sickness, and your vet is the best person to advise on these.

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, and watch out for summer hazards With a little forward planning, you can all enjoy a great break together and spend plenty of quality time with your pet.

Have you been enjoying holidaying – or staycationing – with your pet? Share your summer tales (and tails) with us by using the tag #PethoodStories online!

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