It’s holiday season and what nicer way to celebrate than taking your pet away with you? Whether you’re travelling abroad or staying closer to home, making a day trip or holidaying for a month, we’ve compiled some information and tips to help you make both your journey and your holiday easier, safer and more enjoyable for all!
Planning your trip
Before you go, it’s a really good idea to do some planning and preparations to make your trip as stress-free as possible.
- Make a list of staple items you’ll need such as a lead, collar, beds, food bowls, poo bags, whistle, toys, treats and a collapsible water bowl. Guinea pigs, rabbits and other ‘small furries’ will need their bedding materials, hay, pellets, fresh food and water containers.
- Pack plenty of food to take with you especially if your pet needs a special diet. Particular brands of food can be hard to source without knowing the local area well. If you buy prescription food from us, please give us a call so we can order some in for you before you go.
- Make sure your pet’s microchip details are up to date in case they go missing while you’re away – visit www.petlog.org.uk and enter your pet’s 15-digit microchip number. This can usually be found in your vaccination card or microchip paperwork.
- If you’re travelling abroad, you must travel via an approved route, with an approved company. Plan this at www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/approved-routes
- Leave your pet carrier or crate out for a few days before you travel, so your pet doesn’t get suspicious and they can use it as a safe hiding place or bed.
- We don’t like to think of our furry friends becoming poorly when we’re on holiday, but should the worse happen then it’s reassuring to know help is at hand. Take some time to research vets close to your destination and familiarise yourself with their phone number, opening hours and emergency provision. You can search for UK vets by postcode at the website www.findavet.rcvs.org.uk. If you’re travelling abroad then search online or ask locals for recommendations. We will be happy to forward your pet’s clinical notes to another veterinary practice so that they have all the information they need to look after your pet.
It’s also a good idea to make your own pet first aid kit! Here’s a checklist of what to include:
- Bandages – see https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/basic-first-aid-dogs for specific details
- Medical tape
- Cotton wool
- Sterile saline solution
- Disposable gloves
- A tick hook
- A large towel to wrap your pet in
- Bubble wrap or a space blanket to provide warmth
- Nail clippers and a styptic pencil
- An ice pack
- Medications – If your pet is on long term medication, make sure you remember to bring enough to last your trip, plus some spares in case you misplace them!
- Phone number of a local veterinary practice
How to make the journey more pleasant
Whether travelling by car, boat or plane, journeys can be stressful for pets. Sprays containing Valerian can help calm your pet (and you!). ‘Alternatively, there are products which mimic pets’ natural pheromones, and act to comfort and reassure your pet. Some nutritional supplements can also be useful and should be started a few days before the journey.’
Please get in touch to discuss these options in detail.
Ensure you have a spacious carrier for your pet. There should be enough room to sit, stand, lie and turn around. Each pet should have their own separate carrier. Line the bottom of the carrier with a towel or absorbent bedding, and provide some food and water for the journey. For some great tips on travelling with a cat, see http://icatcare.org/advice/how-guides/how-make-sure-your-cat-comfortable-travelling
Legally, your pet must be ‘suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly’. This can be achieved with a pet seatbelt, crate or dog guard. ¹ Secure your pet carrier by passing the seatbelt through the handle so it cannot slip off the car seat.
If your dog is prone to travel sickness, we may be able to prescribe anti-sickness tablets for longer journeys. Try not to feed your dog during the journey and just give a light meal an hour before you depart.
Take regular breaks for walks, toilet stops and water supplies!
Travelling to Europe
If you’re taking your dog, cat or ferret on holiday to Europe, there’s a few things your pet will need. We strongly recommend you contact the PETS travel helpline on 0370 241 1710 or visit www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/overview for the most up-to-date information on what’s required for your particular destination, as requirements frequently change. Here are some of the requirements at the time of writing:
- A microchip. Did you know? It’s now a legal requirement for all dogs in the UK to be microchipped by the age of 8 weeks! Call us now if you’d like to book in or have your pet’s microchip checked.
- Rabies vaccination. This will need to be done at least 21 days before your return to the UK. A rabies vaccine is valid for 3 years, but if you are abroad for more than 3 months at a time then you will need to get the rabies vaccine topped up every year.
- A pet passport. We can issue this for you. Please phone to chat through what’s needed or to make an appointment. You’ll need to allow time to have this produced before you go. Read more about pet passports and eligible countries on https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/pet-passport.
- Preventative treatments against ticks and depending on your destination, a range of other bugs such as sandflies. These parasites can all carry nasty diseases so it’s important to protect your pet from them. Please give us a call to discuss the options available.
- If you are visiting sunnier climes, follow the usual hot weather precautions. Provide plenty of water, somewhere cool to escape to and even a suitable sun cream if your pet has any exposed pink or white skin, particularly on their face. Always ensure your dog has adequate ventilation and access to water and never leave animals unattended in vehicles during warm or sunny weather…dogs die in hot cars! https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/dogs/health/dogsinhotcars
- Tapeworm treatment. A vet must dispense and administer an approved wormer ‘no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days)’² before you re-enter the UK. The vet will sign the relevant section of your pets’ passport. Try to source a vet at your destination before you leave the UK.
- Whilst not essential, many countries prefer you to have had your pet examined by a vet and certified ‘fit to travel’. There is a page in your pets’ passport for this.
- If you plan to travel by plane, check the relevant airline’s website for details and requirements. Your pet may be able to travel in the cabin, but if they need to be in the hold, they will need to be in a suitably sized crate. See www.pet-express.com/services/crate-calculator to help you calculate this.
- If you plan to emigrate with your pet (to Europe or further afield), consider using the services of a specialist pet travel company. They can work out which blood tests, vaccines and certificates are required and provide a schedule of timings for you.
We hope this guide helps to make your trip a little easier and even more ‘pawsome’!!