Holiday times are lots of fun for humans but they can be really stressful for pets who find themselves in strange places. These hints for happy travelling will help you and your critters enjoy the holiday season.
Pre-trip preparation for pets
Make sure your pet is up to date on all its vaccinations and prophylactic medicines before you hit the road. Check your pet's lead and collar are in good condition and that it's wearing a name tag clearly bearing your mobile number or holiday address.
Do your homework. Call a veterinary surgery in the area you are planning to visit for practical up-do date local knowledge on common risks in the area and how to handle them (ticks, snakes or a high incidence of local heartworm for example). If your pet is on a special diet the vet will also be able to tell you what you can expect to obtain locally.
Settling in with your pet
Holiday preparation doesn't end when you arrive at your destination. That's when you have to put in extra time to make sure your pets are comfortable in their holiday accommodation too.
Stick your dog on its leash and inspect the new property together. Fill the water bowls and install the bedding, then head off to investigate the local area.
During the holiday make sure you take long walks in every direction from your new home so that your dog has the opportunity to spread its scent around. That way if anything happens and it gets lost, it has a better chance of finding its way back.
Give cats the full run of the inside of the house. When you catch them snoozing on the bed or a sunny sofa (a sure sign they feel settled) it's safe to let them out.
Remember that any new off-leash territory will be completely foreign to your dog. It is important to only let it off the lead in fenced areas or those that have natural boundaries (cliffs or creeks for example). It would be a mistake to rely on the fact that your dog will behave in exactly the same way in the new environment as it would at home. Remember, you are both on holiday!
Pets in transit
DO stop and revive every two hours - for yourself and to let your dog out of the vehicle for a bit of a stretch and loo stop too.
DO have your dog on the lead at all times - and keep a good hold on the lead. Don't imagine you have your dog under voice control.
DON'T feed your pets during transit, but DO provide access to water. On long journeys, small snacks might be provided.
NEVER let a cat out of the travel cage mid-journey and remember cats prefer to travel without seeing where they are going (they find the movement of passing things quite stressful). Throw a towel or other loose woven (breathable) fabric over the cage.
DO watch your pet for signs of distress as even good travellers have off days. If your pet becomes agitated or excessively drools and dry retches chances are it will soon vomit. Slow down, pull over and walk the dog around for a few minutes until it settles. If you know your animal is prone to travel sickness, DO NOT feed for 12 hours prior to the commencement of the journey.
Hot cars become coffins. Please don't leave your pet alone in the car on a hot day - even with the window down. Once the outside temperature tops 25°C it takes just six minutes for the internal temperature of a parked car to reach 40°C, which can result in irreversible brain damage or worse for your precious pet.