Holidays and travelling can be an ideal opportunity to spend time with our furry family members. Veterinarian Dr Jo Righetti shares her tips to ensure your travel plans go as smoothly as possible.
PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE
Your travel location needs to be suitable for your pet. Hot, arid deserts are rarely ideal for pets, nor are national parks. Check the laws and bylaws for the area in which you are travelling. Check if dogs are allowed in parks, on beaches or in apartments at your considered destination. Local council websites will often have local pet information.
Choosing pet-friendly accommodation
With a pet it is essential to have a booking at your destination or stopover accommodation. Book early, as many establishments often only have one or two rooms dedicated to pet use and these fill up quickly. All types and standards of pet-friendly accommodation are available and most can be viewed and booked online.
You may like to let the holiday agent or accommodation owner know that your pet is regularly medicated, house-trained and well-behaved.
- Do they accept your type and size of pet?
- Is there a surcharge or a bond for pets?
- Is there a secure garden, deck or other outdoor space?
- Can your pet be kept inside?
- Do they provide any pet items?
- Are there pet-friendly activities nearby eg. dog off-leash parks?
PREPARING YOUR PET FOR TRAVEL
Your pet’s air trip must be booked in advance and you need to check with the airline regarding their specific travel arrangements for your pet. Your pet must travel within a secure crate, so it is advisable to get them used to being in one prior to the travel date. Remember to leave plenty of time to get your pet checked in.
If your pet has not travelled before, or if they are prone to feeling queasy, taking short trips in your car, well ahead of your holiday, can help. Gradually build up the time spent travelling. Travel sickness can be eased by a little ginger in their diet or spraying lavender inside your vehicle.
If you have to take public transport, it is likely that your pet will NOT be allowed to accompany you. Service dogs such as Guide Dogs and Assistance Dogs are allowed to accompany you everywhere, including public transport and within all holiday accommodation types.
Identify your pet
Check that your pet’s registration details are up to date with your local council and that your pet has an identity tag on their collar. Have your mobile phone number on the tag, so that you are contactable should your pet go missing.
Packing for pets
- Food & water bowls
- Any medication
Your pet’s flea and worming medication should be applied regularly leading up to your trip. Holiday accommodation owners will welcome a flea-free visitor!
On your journey
When you pack your luggage in your vehicle, leave enough space for your pet to fit comfortably. They should be able to turn around and to lie down. On the day of your journey, you should walk your dog prior to departing, as this will help them settle. It is preferable to keep your pet secured while travelling, either in a pet carry case, a crate or by wearing a harness. This prevents them escaping and also interfering with your driving. Cats should have access to a litter tray if they are to be caged for more than a couple of hours. Just as you need a break, so does your pet. Stop every couple of hours, offer your pet a toilet break and a drink of water. Do not leave your pet alone in a hot car and keep them on a lead when outside the vehicle.
At your holiday accommodation
Your pet will very likely be extremely excited on arrival at your destination and/or very nervous. Keep a close eye on them, as this is the time that they are liable to escape. Check that any outdoor space is secure.
Treat your holiday accommodation as you would a new home, gradually introducing your pet one room at a time. Allow your cat to stay within their cage if they feel more secure in this, keeping the door open so that they are free to explore their surroundings. Give your pet their own bed, their blanket or a rug to sleep on. These will also prevent pet hairs covering the furniture. If you have to leave your pet at home alone in your holiday accommodation, give them ‘a job’ to do. Treats, food-releasing toys and chewable toys make great occupiers and will ensure your pets do not chew the furniture! Puppies chew wherever they are and cats scratch, so provide appropriate locations and items for chewing or scratching.
Your pet’s behaviour
Many owners are worried about their pet’s behaviour, or misbehavior, while they are travelling. The following tips will help:
- Be aware of any other pets at your holiday destination. Your cat or dog may be fearful and hotel owners do not wish their resident cat to be chased!
- Check with cafes and restaurants that it is acceptable to bring your pet. Otherwise be prepared to cook at home or have take-aways and picnics.
- If your pet goes missing, call local councils and vets at your destination and also those at home.
- Keep up your training with your pet while you are travelling. This is a great opportunity to spend time with your pet, explore new areas together and bond even more closely.
Be well prepared for your travels and you are sure to have a terrific trip with your pet.
Dr Jo Righetti is an animal behaviourist with a background in zoology, a PhD in animal behaviour and 15 years business experience helping people and pets. Dr is also an ambassador for Assistance Dogs Australia and Animal Welfare League Australia and also has a popular website Pet Problems Solved with Dr Jo at petproblemsolved.com.au. She regularly features on radio, television and at events.
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