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Taking your dog on holiday?

So summer is finally in the air, we’ve done our house spring clean (in our dreams) and now it's time to plan our holidays. The next question for many dog owners is "should I take my dog with me?"
In my view, it’s best to leave your dog where you ‘know’ it will feel more comfortable. If your dog is happy at home with a trusted sitter or with a friend or relative, then this is probably better than putting them through the potential stress of travelling.
But what if you wish to take your dog on an extended trip that you know you will both enjoy? Here are some top tips to make sure your canine furry friend has just as much fun as you:
  1. Prepare.
  2. Make sure your dog is microchipped, vaccinated and wormed, and that their pet passport is valid if needed. If you’re travelling to an area with a high population of ticks or mosquitos, consider either a spot on solution or collar, to protect you and your dog from the nasty diseases that these can carry.
  3. Double-check
  4. Double-check that all your accommodation destinations will welcome your dog with open arms. Call them beforehand to be sure.
  5. Car travel
  6. While driving, you should ideally keep your pet in a suitably sized crate, to avoid distractions to you (and also so that your pet will not become a live projectile should you have to brake suddenly. Always a good thing.) A pet crate is also a great place for your dog to feel comfortable if needing to stay overnight in a hotel or a friend’s house. It’s best to stop and have a break (ideally 15-30min every 4 hours of travel), take them for a quick walk and if hungry, feed them a snack that is high in protein. Always ensure fresh water is available and NEVER leave your dog locked in the car, even with the windows open.
  7. Plane travel
  8. Generally, dogs under 8kg can travel in the passenger cabin with you whilst larger dogs will need to travel in the hold. Regardless, they all need to be in an IATA Approved crate. Please check with your airline as some may need a health certificate from your vet. As with cars, try to leave 6h from last feed to being on the plane but make sure they have access to water (and a final pee of course!) before boarding the plane.
  9. Keeping calm.
  10. Bring along your dog’s favourite toy or blanket – anything that makes them feel comfortable. Using sedatives is usually not advised as this does not alleviate the stress they feel. It’s far better to do small outings initially that gradually progress to longer trips to get your pet used to a change in their normal routine.
  11. Go for a long walk.
  12. Once you have arrived. A dog that is fully exercised is in a far more relaxed state and much more likely to accept new situations. If your dog does end up growling a bit, do not be upset as this is something new for them and it is a way for them to communicate with you that they need reassurance.
  13. New places
  14. if entering a new room, restaurant or someone’s home make sure you are always the first one to enter and make your dog wait until you have told them to enter so that they know you are in control. Do not forget that dogs love to explore new areas, so keep a vigilant eye on anything they could ingest by accident.
    In summary, taking your dog on holiday can be absolutely brilliant fun but it’s best to be prepared and do your research before you go. After all, this is something that you will probably wish to do time and time again, so make sure your pet’s first experience is as positive as possible!
Andrew Bucher
Veterinarian and Co-founder of MedicAnimal