Going on holiday? What about the pets?
Summertime… Beach stays, trips abroad, hikes in Yorkshire… It is a great opportunity to take a break with your family and keep daily stress at bay. You book a lovely hotel with your other half, you read a map with your children asking them where they want to go, you pack your suitcases, you… Wait! Aren’t you forgetting someone? “Babe, what about the cat? Is he coming with us?!”
Most pet owners tend to forget about it: having a pet means new responsibilities and taking care of them when you go on holidays is one of them. Unfortunately, too many people still ignore it: although the Animal Welfare Act 2006 states abandonment as a criminal offence, the RSCPA received 1 call every 6 minutes to report an abandoned animal last summer. The months of June, July and August are critical since many people seem to struggle when it comes to taking care of their pets while also going on holiday. Read our tips below to make sure your pets will have a great time this summer, just like you!
You might be an adventurous Frenchman aiming to sail around the world with your hen (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36475672). However, in all other cases, we recommend that you do not take your chickens on holidays with you. The best thing to do is to ask some friends or neighbours to take care of them while you are away, offering them to help themselves to eggs. If you are lucky enough to have an Eglu Cube on wheels, you can even move your coop directly into your neighbour’s garden!
HAMSTERS, GUINEA PIGS AND RABBITS
Just like with chickens, it is better to leave your hamster, rabbit or guinea pig at home and ask a friend, ideally someone they already know, to come and look after them. If you still decide to take them with you, or if you don’t have any other choice, be very careful with temperature change. These smaller pets are extremely sensitive to it and a sudden temperature change could be fatal. While in the car, make sure that they are neither too hot (do not leave them next to a window or in a parked car) or too cold (do not put them in front of the air con). You also want to check that nothing is at risk of falling and hurting them in the cage: take away the bottle and the feeder and stop regularly to give them some water and food. Remember that rodents and rabbits are very shy animals that like to have their own routine and tend to struggle with change.
You can definitely take them with you, but in most cases you don’t have to: cats are independent animals that can take care of themselves for a few days. Fill their bowls with food and water before leaving. If you are away for less than 10 days, ask a friend to come and check on them (one or two short visits a day should do).
If you are away for more than 10 days, it is better to leave your cat with some relatives, preferably people who already know your cat and who don’t have any animals that the cat won’t get along with. You can also put your cat in a boarding kennel. However, keep in mind that this can be risky since your cat could feel abandoned (new place, new faces…) and get depressed. Before taking them to the cattery you can give them some soft and natural tranquillizer, like Bach flower, to help them adjust.
Dogs are probably the most complicated animal to deal with when going on holidays. You can’t just leave them at home with food and water. This is not only bad for your dog, but could also lead you to be accused of animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (punishable by a £20,000 fine and a 51-week jail term). The best option is definitely to book a seat for your dog in your car and help them pack their suitcase!
Why should I take my dog with me?
Of course you can leave your dog with your friends or family (preferably someone they already know). However, keep in mind that dogs are very social animals and thrive on their owner’s company. For them, holidays will be a fantastic opportunity to spend some quality time with their favourite humans. Moreover, since you are on holidays, you will have more free time and will be able to spend entire days with your dog, which will make them extremely happy. No more long and boring days waiting for you at home! No doubt that you and your family will also be delighted to spend the whole day playing and exercising with your dog. They can also help you to interact with fellow holiday makers: many people won’t be able to resist giving them some attention!
How to organize a trip with a dog
Here is a list of what you can do to make sure your dog is ready for the holidays and everything goes fine while you two are away from home:
- Before going, make sure your dog is used to travelling in a car. Some dogs can be car sick and it is good to prepare them, especially if you’re planning on a road trip and are spending a lot of time in the car!
- Make sure your dog knows some basic commands such as heel and sit. If they are able to go on a walk without pulling on the lead, it is even better!
- Check that their vaccinations are up to date, and if you’re going abroad, double check what the requirements are far in advance.
- Bring everything they may need: food, of course, but also a first-aid kit, their health record book, the lead, the food and water bowls, the crate, their favourite toys, some poo bags… It is very important to take your dog’s food with you if you are going abroad since you can’t make sure you’ll find their favourite brand in the country you’re visiting.
- While travelling, put your dog in their cage in the boot of the car.
- Before visiting a place, make sure they accept pets. Never go to a hotel before checking it. Likewise, you will easily find on the Internet a list of dog friendly beaches in the UK.
- Check that your dog is not too hot. If you’re going on a walk, don’t forget to bring a bowl and a good amoutn of water.
- When settling your dog somewhere, do it properly: make sure they have some food, some water, some shadow… Even if it is just for an hour!
- If you think it is necessary, you can fit your dog with a GPS collar. This can be useful when you go hiking in the wild. You can also download various apps on your mobile to help you locate a lost dog, find a vets near you or keep record of your dog’s health.
- http://www.fleatickrisk.com/ is a very helpful website that will tell you if your dog is at risk of pest infections in the city you’re visiting. Check the website before going and take the necessary equipment with you.
In the UK, you can travel for free with your pet on most public transport: buses, taxis, trains and ferries. However, to make sure everything goes smoothly, always check that that is the case before you board. Be aware that coach companies generally do not accept pets except for assistance dogs. Remember that passengers can complain about your animal’s behaviour so try and make sure your pet will be able to behave themselves while travelling.
When travelling abroad, make sure you can go on public transport with your pet since this can vary according to the country (in some places you will have to book a ticket for your animal).
If you’re travelling by plane, mention that you have an animal when booking and check that your animal’s vaccination is up to date. On the day of the departure, make sure to arrive early. Cats and small dogs will generally be allowed to fly with you in the cabin. However, bigger dogs will have to travel in a heated and pressurized part of the cargo hold. Birds, rabbits and hamsters are often forbidden but some airlines may accept them.