The summer holidays are well and truly here, and for many people, that means either a trip abroad or a ‘staycation’. Whatever you’ve got planned, it’s useful to know how best to prepare before you take your dog with you.
If you're staying in the UK
Of course, taking a holiday in the UK is not as complicated as going abroad when you have a dog. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to think about beforehand.
One really important consideration, which can often be overlooked, is the importance of checking out local vets. Ideally any in the area you are visiting will also be out of hours, just in case of an emergency. You don’t want to risk something happening to your dog and not knowing where to turn when they need you.
Use Google (or similar) and make a note of the local pet welfare options near to where you are staying. Save the addresses in your phone or on your Maps app via it’s handy ‘favourites’ feature. Alternatively, if your hotel or accommodation is pet friendly (which we hope it is) why not ring ahead and ask – they will most likely know if others have enquired about the same thing too.
If you are going abroad
As you probably expect, going abroad with your dog will take a bit more pre-planning before you head off. Generally, the rules will be different for every country, and there is a clear difference depending on if you are going to an EU country, Northern Ireland, or somewhere outside of the EU.
You will require an animal healthcare certificate in order to travel to the EU or Northern Ireland with your pet. These certificates have replaced ‘pet passports’ and need to be obtained no matter how many times you may have been to the EU country in question. Your vet will be able to issue a certificate in the 10 days before travel. It’s a good idea to book the visit to the vet well in advance to ensure you get a slot.
As well as the certificate, you’ll need to visit the vets for your dog’s vaccinations. This needs to be done well enough in advance so that they can take effect. Vaccinations you should be request will include rabies, which needs a minimum of 21 days to take effect. Visiting the vet will also allow you to double check when treatments for flea and worms are due.
Again when it comes to vets, as with a UK based stay, you should check that the local area has everything your pet needs, especially when it comes to emergency care. You should also ensure that any vet surgery will be able to treat your dog.
Another overlooked consideration is checking whether your pet insurance covers your trip abroad. Your policy might even contribute to the cost of cancelled holidays or kennel fees if a hospital stay is needed. Some policies may not explicitly cover trips abroad for your pooch, so you will need to double check policy wording, or contact your insurer for peace of mind.
As well as being microchipped, your pet should wear a collar with an identity tag with your name, holiday address and contact details, so if they get lost you can be reunited as quickly as possible.
Looking after your dog's wellbeing
While the health of your dog is vital, it’s also important to make sure they are as comfortable as possible wherever you are traveling to. Some dogs will be more anxious about a change of location, particularly if you haven’t been to the area before. Your dog’s age and overall health condition will be an indication of whether taking them on holiday is a good idea. Very young or much older dogs may struggle with long journeys.
It may be obvious, but if you are planning on going hiking or for long walks, check the daily temperature and the trail distance beforehand. Your dog needs to be comfortable with spending hours out and about, which may be more difficult for smaller dogs.
Heatstroke can be an issue for all dogs regardless of breed, so try to plan activities based on the weather if required.
As with settling a dog into a new home, it’s a great idea to take some trusted items such as worn toys or blankets. This will help your dog settle into the hotel or accommodation easier.
It’s also a good idea to ring your hotel ahead of time and ask what provisions they have before you arrive. The hotel can also advise on important but overlooked things, such as designated toilet areas of the hotel’s grounds.
As with the local vets, your hotel will be able to advise on dog friendly social spots such as pubs, restaurants, or the best walking spots.
Schemes to help you plan your trip
Did you know that the UK government have a scheme which is intended to provided guidance for taking your dog on holiday? It’s called PETS, obviously, which is short for the Pet Travel Scheme.
It was set up to allow holidaymakers to take dogs and cats abroad to other countries, and then return them to the UK. The scheme also ensures there is no need for any quarantine period, providing that owners fulfil the conditions and criteria.
Find a trusted person to look after your dog while you are away
If planning to take your dog away with you becomes too stressful, then there may be an option to leave them with another person. Of course, this depends on how you know the individual and whether you deem them responsible.
If you are given a recommendation, then make sure you find out as much as possible about that person. That includes current living arrangements, whether they have any other dogs or animals that will be present at the same time, and their experience with other people’s pups.