According to a survey, half of all dog owners now take their pet on holiday. Are you among them? Then we have a few important tips for you to make sure your journey together is as relaxed and comfortable as possible.
Your dog is a part of the family, and that includes the best time of year… holidays! This has been confirmed by a survey conducted by the market research institute Forsa. Half of all dog owners take Rover on holiday, at least occasionally, meaning most owners will look for holiday homes that are suitable for their dogs. This makes sense, as ultimately your pet should feel as at home in your chosen location as the rest of the family.
Choosing your destination and accommodation
It’s understandable that you would want your four-legged friend by your side at all times. But will your dog enjoy the trip as much as you? First, you must make absolutely sure that your vision of a dream holiday is compatible with a dog’s needs. If your idea of heaven is lounging on a sunny beach in the Caribbean, then Rover is probably better off staying with friends or in a nice kennel. But if you do want to take your dog, you don’t necessarily have to miss out on a beach holiday: for example, Holland and Belgium are both very popular destinations among dog owners. Depending on which region you live in, perhaps Italy or France would be easier to get to.
Of course it’s true that the further south your destination, the hotter it will be in the summer. This will definitely cause your dog some discomfort so you should make sure he does not have to stay outside for the hottest part of the day at least. Therefore you should spend lunchtimes with him indoors, ensuring the room is kept at a pleasant temperature. Speaking from experience, this is more fun in a spacious holiday home than in a cramped hotel room.
Entry regulations and requirements
When travelling in the EU, the following guidelines apply: Your pet must be chipped and vaccinated for your trip abroad, and will also need an EU pet passport. Regardless of this, it is essential that you also read up on the entry requirements for the country you intend to visit, and above all, the regional and local requirements for dog owners (also see our online tips for info on this). Owners of breeds such as American Staffordshire Terriers, Pit Bulls etc. will have an especially hard time as many countries – including France and Denmark – forbid even temporary entry of certain breeds, including travelling through these countries with your pet. And even those who break these rules unwittingly risk having their dog seized by the authorities.
Further preparations before you go
If you haven’t done so already, you should have your dog entered in a pet register (for example FIDO). This will increase the chances that your tattooed or chipped dog will be found quickly in the event that he goes missing. Furthermore, we recommend getting dog owner liability insurance that includes cover in foreign countries. And don’t forget, you’ll need an address label for your dog’s collar. Use this to note down your home and your holiday addresses and telephone numbers where you can be reached at all times.
A precautionary trip to the vet before you go is also recommended. The vet will check that your dog is fit and healthy to travel and will give him the vaccinations he needs. You should also ask whether there are any particular health risks linked to your holiday destination and how best to avoid them. In any case, you must take a small first aid kit for your dog, including eye ointment, anti-diarrhoea medicine, tweezers, bandaging, wound ointment and tick tweezers. Something to treat nausea and vomiting is also a good idea.
If your dog gets very nervous in the car, it’s a sensible idea to give him a travel tablet or some complementary feed with calming ingredients. After all, just travelling to your holiday spot can be stressful, and not only for us, but also for our dogs. That’s why some animals need a bit of support at this time. Preventative measures are particularly important here, which means staying as calm as possible! Our “holiday fever” can easily be transferred to our four-legged friends, but with your dog this has nothing to do with excitement, as he simply won’t understand why everyone is so worked up. To ensure you don’t upset your dog unnecessarily, the best thing to do is to separate him from the tasks: Send your dog off on a long walk with someone else while you pack your suitcase. The less hustle and bustle surrounding your dog the better.
The car journey
Anyone travelling with their pet should be aware that everything will take somewhat longer. Because it’s no longer just about getting to your destination as quickly as possible, but also about making the journey as comfortable as possible. Therefore, you should plan to take breaks every two hours so your dog can stretch his legs. Maybe you could take a look at the map before you set off and find some particularly scenic rest stops? Breaks will be more fun if you take the opportunity to get to know each region. During these breaks you should give you dog water, but don’t offer him anything to eat. This is because travelling by car on a full stomach can cause nausea and vomiting. Therefore, you should also avoid giving your dog a large meal before you set off as well. You should only feed your dog en route if your journey is longer than twelve hours because problems can also sometimes occur when he has a completely empty stomach. Ideally, you should give your dog a long break after feeding him.
Please also bear in mind that your dog will not be welcome in all motorway service stations and restaurants for hygienic reasons. Nevertheless, you should not leave your dog unsupervised in your car under any circumstances. In summer, the interior of the car will heat up extremely quickly, meaning it only takes quarter of an hour before your car poses a fatal danger to your dog. If you have no other option, you should take turns to go and eat.
Because the journey is so boring for your best friend, he will probably want to sit on your lap. But he is not allowed. It is illegal for your dog to travel with you without taking safety precautions – for example in the passenger footwell. If you violate this law you will be penalised with fines and points. If your dog sits in the passenger seat, he must be fastened in with a special seatbelt. And you can only put him in the boot of your estate car if it is separated from the passenger seats with a secure grille. The safest option for you and your pet is if he travels with you in a transport box.
If your dog is travelling in the passenger or the back seat, then please make sure the window is closed on his side. Although dogs absolutely love to stick their heads out of the window when travelling, this can quickly lead to conjunctivitis.
Call into your local store today to discuss your dog’s personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts.