Staycations can be great news for your dog as it means they can go on holiday too! However, it’s important to plan everything from ensuring your road trip is dog-friendly (comfort, safety, and plenty of pitstops) to your location (are there dog-friendly beaches and places to visit nearby?) to ensure your canine chum has a happy holiday as well. We’ve got all the essentials covered in our holidays with your dog guide.
Before you go on holiday with your dog
- Health check Make sure your dog is up to date with their vaccinations, flea, tick and worming treatments and ask your vet to give your dog the onceover to check that your canine pal is all set for your holiday – this is particularly important if you are planning an active and adventurous vacation
- Medical supplies If your dog is on any medication, check you have enough for the whole time you’ll be away
- Contact details Find out the details of a veterinary practice in the area you’ll be visiting, including information on their ‘out of hours’ service
- First aidPut together a first aid kit including bandages, non-adhesive absorbent dressings, and surgical sticky tape – Blue Cross has more advice on basic first aid for dogs here >>
HAPPY HOLIDAY DOGS TOP TIP
The RSPCA advises: “As well as ensuring your dog is fit and healthy enough for the holiday it’s also important to consider whether they’ll be happy and relaxed. Many dogs are comfortable with visiting new places, meeting new people and experiencing some changes to their routine but equally some dogs can find this all a bit too much. If you think your dog might feel worried, stressed or scared on holiday it’s best to leave them at home with a responsible person to care for them.”
Packing for your dog – the essentials
- Collar and ID tag that includes your mobile phone number in case your dog runs off in an unfamiliar place – and also make sure your dog’s microchip details are up-to-date
- Comfortable bed and something that smells familiar, such as a blanket, to help them settle into their new holiday home
- Favourite toys
- Chews and chew toys
- Poop bags
- Enough of their usual food to last the whole holiday – changing your dog’s diet suddenly can result in stomach upsets so keep them on the same diet they normally get at home
- Towel for muddy paws
HAPPY HOLIDAY DOGS TOP TIP
The RSPCA advises: “Make sure anywhere you plan to stay has a dog-friendly policy – let them know in advance that you’ll be bringing your dog along. Find out about what facilities they offer for pets, for example do they provide dog beds, are there suitable places close-by for doggy toilet breaks, are there local dog-friendly walks? Consider what other activities you and your family will want to do when you’re away – will your dog be able to be involved? Look up local dog-friendly pubs, cafés, parks and beaches so you are well prepared.”
Planning your journey with the dog
- Burn off excess energy It’s a really good idea to take your dog on a long walk before your trip. This ensures that their energy levels are depleted and they’re happy to lie down and snooze once you’re on the road
- Reduce the risk of car sickness Dogs can get car sick just the same as humans, so don’t feed a large meal right before setting off. A light snack, a couple of hours before departure, is ideal. To help with motion sickness, some dogs may benefit from travelling on a pet beanbag. These create a safe spot to nestle in, without rolling about too much with the motion of the vehicle. A few favourite toys and familiar bedding can also help your dog feel more settled
- Keep it cool for dogs As canines sport fur coats, it’s an absolute must to keep the on-board temperature cool. Turn on the air con or keep windows open an inch or two. If It’s very hot and sunny, sun blinds on the windows may also be required. However, never be tempted to let your dog hang their head out of the window. Debris from the road could damage their nose, mouth, and eyes, which were not designed to travel at 70mph. And it just doesn’t bear thinking about what could happen if you had to brake quickly or were involved in a collision…
- Put safety first Rule 57 of The Highway Code states that: ‘When in a vehicle, make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly,’ which is sound advice. Use a dog harness seat belt that clips into the in-car seat belt socket if your canine companion travels on the back seat, or a dog guard if they’re in the boot area. For safe and comfortable car journeys, always use secure pet carriers or dog seat belts
- Stash some supplies Take plenty of provisions – pack a rucksack with a bowl, bottles of water, some food and treats, poop scoop bags, a towel, an extra lead, and a blanket to lie on.
- Plan some pit stops Break up long journeys with frequent stops – at least every two hours – so your dog can stretch their legs. Take a lead walk somewhere with interesting smells and provide the opportunity to toilet and have a drink. Driving with Dogs has details of all sorts of dog walks within five miles of motorway exits
- Remember that dogs love careful drivers Keep your driving steady and avoid braking sharply or accelerating quickly as this can frighten your dog
- Never forget the golden rule Remember that dogs die in hot cars and, even on a cool day, the inside of a car can become like an oven within minutes. Never take the risk – never, ever leave your dog alone in your car under any circumstances
HAPPY HOLIDAY DOGS TOP TIP
With dogs that are new to car travel or showing signs of anxiety, start by letting them spend a few minutes each day in a stationary car, and offer them part of their daily food allowance or a treat while there. This will help them associate the car with enjoyable experiences. Once a dog is happily hopping into the car, start taking very short trips to exciting places. The anticipation of tasty food, and a trip to the beach or park, will soon mean that you’ll need to hold your dog back from leaping into the car, and the length of trips can then be gradually increased.
When you get there – how to settle your dog in
- Routine As far as possible try to keep to your dog’s routine so that food, exercise, rest, and toilet breaks are around the same time every day. Going on holiday can mean quite a lot of change and new experiences for your canine chum, so take time to help them settle in and feel secure
- Familiar smells Place the familiar smelling item you brought in your dog’s bed or somewhere they will spend a lot of time
- Time and space Give your dog time and space to explore new places and people at their own pace
- Keep them company Never leave them alone for any period which might cause them distress
- Rest time Holidays can be exciting, with lots going on, so it’s essential to give your dog lots of time to rest undisturbed in a quiet, comfortable spot
HAPPY HOLIDAY DOGS TOP TIP
The RSPCA advises: “When you’re planning a day out, call ahead to the venues you intend on visiting to make sure that they’re dog-friendly. Whether it is a National Trust property, a walk to a country pub or a coffee in your new local cafe, it’s important to make sure that your pooch will be welcomed and can join you. Dogs die in hot cars, so they must never be left alone in a vehicle. Temperatures can soar very quickly and cause heatstroke or even death. That’s why it’s crucial to know how dog-friendly places are before driving to your destination as the car isn’t an option for your dog to be left in if it turns out that they can’t come in with you.”
Staying safe on holiday with your dog
- Walk your dog on their lead Unless you’re absolutely sure it’s safe to let them off, keeping them on a lead is the best option – in an unfamiliar area, you won’t know where roads or other potential hazards are located
- Stay visible If walking in dim light, ensure your dog has a LED collar or light attached so you and others can still see them. Keep yourself safe by wearing a high-vis jacket
- Keep your dog with you Never leave your dog in any situation which could put them at harm, for example, tied up outside a shop where they could be stolen or anywhere they could become too hot
- Have some sun sense It’s vital that your dog can easily get out of the sun while they’re out and about, especially if you’re spending a long afternoon outside. Seek shade by sitting near trees or buildings so that your dog can access cooler areas throughout the day and take an umbrella with you to provide some cover from the sun
- Stay vigilant Keep a close eye on your dog’s body language and behaviour as any changes may mean they’re feeling bored, stressed, or ill. Make sure that your canine chum is happy and comfortable in any situation you take them into. For example, a pub may be dog-friendly, but if it’s very busy with a noisy crowd, your four-legged friend may feel frightened, in which case you should remove them from the situation as soon as possible
Dog friendly holidays
The RSPCA has developed partnerships with two holiday companies, which offer pet-friendly vacations:
- cottages.com will donate 10% of your cottage rental to the RSPCA
- Hoseasons Holiday Parks are offering a 5% discount, plus a 5% donation to the RSPCA at no extra cost
Is your pet a Burgess pet? Join the Burgess Pet Club for exclusive offers and rewards.
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