Taking the dog with you on holiday is a bit like taking a toddler – you need to plan. Dogs have their own stuff, and you have no idea how much until you really sit down and think about what you need to take with you on holiday. However, all it needs is a little planning to make sure you have a really great holiday with your dog.
Before You Go
The good news is that some of this will be already in place…
- Make sure their vaccinations are up to date, and they’re treated for lungworm. Lungworm might not be too prevalent in your area, but you want to be protected if you’re visiting a hot spot.
- Get your dog microchipped – from April 2016; it’s compulsory anyway. It deters theft and will make it far easier to find each other if you get separated on a busy summer beach.
- Make sure your pet insurance is up-to-date, and you know who it’s with – I had to look mine up.
- Find a vet at your destination. I called a vet before I left home, asking about lungworm, and they asked if I’d like to register my dog to save time if I needed them. Brilliant! And excellent customer service too. I stored their number in my phone in case I needed it.
- Find a dog-sitter. God forbid, but if you’re planning a day out where dogs aren’t allowed, you’ll want to find a pet-sitter or dog-walker to look after your dog while you’re out. Finding one before you go means you can really check them out and be happy you’ve found someone you trust.
- Research dog-friendly eateries and attractions. Before I left home, I checked which places I wanted to visit allowed dogs and found some dog-friendly places nearby. Saved lots of tramping about looking for lunch.
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What to Pack
This was a real eye-opener for me. My dog is low-maintenance, but I still ended up with a large box full of her stuff.
- Collar, identity tags (a legal requirement), and leads x 2. One flexible or long lead and another short lead. Some dog-friendly attractions only allow dogs in on a short lead, plus they’re a lot lighter to carry around.
- Waste bags. It’s soul-destroying to be walking along in a beautiful location, only to come across a discarded bag of dog poo. If you don’t like to carry it, treat yourself to a Dickie Bag, which will store it out of sight until you find a bin.
- Food, treats, bowls. Especially if you’re staying out of the way, forgetting food is a real pain, especially if your dog is on a special or restricted diet. If you do forget, chicken and rice is a good substitute until you can find a pet shop.
- Your dog’s bed. Putting your dog’s bed down in a holiday cottage is a signal to your dog that you’ve arrived! And that it’s a safe place. Dogs take great comfort from having their own stuff about, especially if it smells familiar.
- Blankets and mats. Blankets make everything better. Spread one on your bed, on the sofa and any other furniture your dog might want to lie on while it’s on holiday. It will save you cleaning stains and mud off the sofa on the last day. If you have one of those washable doormats, take that too. Perfect for drying off muddy paws before they hit the carpet.
- Towels and shampoo. My dog loves to roll in revolting things. I can’t imagine yours is any different. Taking your own towels and their normal shampoo means it doesn’t matter – well, not much anyway.
- Favourite toys. Always a good move. A new place can be daunting, and your dog doesn’t understand that this is a fun place to be yet. Chewing helps to reduce stress for dogs, so taking their favourite toy, especially once they can get to work on it, really will make for a more relaxed pooch.
- Medication. Don’t forget any pills and potions your dog needs, especially if it’s a daily dose. Getting replacements from a local vet will be expensive and time-consuming.
- Cleaning products. I got caught out with this one. Nikita threw up a couple of times overnight, and I didn’t have anything to clean it up properly. The basics – scrubbing brush, rubber gloves, kitchen roll and cleaner will cover most ‘accidents’.
Hitting the Road
Assuming you’re in a car, make the dog its own little nest, so it’s not anxious or smothered by pillows – and so it can’t get at any food you’ve packed.
- Crate, bed or car seat cover. If your dog travels in your car regularly, chances are you already have a durable back seat cover. If they’re used to travelling in a crate, then let them travel in that. Do whatever is normal.
- Seatbelt and harness. Your dog needs to travel safely, and you can get a simple seatbelt for them at all good pet shops, which simply clip onto a harness worn around their chest. Whatever you do, don’t clip it onto their collar as you could do serious damage just doing an emergency stop.
- Travel sickness and anxiety tablets. Dorwest does a good skullcap and valerian tablet, great for travel sickness and anxiety, especially if your dog isn’t used to long journeys. Give an hour beforehand and during the trip.
- Something to chew. A bit of chewing action staves off stress and boredom – and not just for your dog! You don’t have to get a marrowbone or anything as impractical as that, but a chew that takes a while – treat or toy – will keep your dog happy for ages.
- Water. Any journey over a couple of hours means pee and tea breaks. While you and the dog stretch your legs, make sure there’s water for them while you’re sipping tea.
- Keep them cool. Dogs really do die in hot cars. Try to park in the shade, make sure it’s going to stay in the shade for the duration of your visit, leave the water and make sure you leave windows open enough to get good circulation.
It’s good to have a little first aid kit for yourselves in case of scrapes and cuts. There are a couple of things you can add to it in case the dog needs a little attention too. A pair of fine pointed tweezers (not eyebrow tweezers) or a Tick Twister will be essential for the safe removal of ticks. They’re perfect for humans too. Saline in case of something getting into an eye or wound and antiseptic cream, one with neem is perfect will be ideal for any bites they get.