November 27, 2021

Vet shares advice for taking a pet on holiday from packing essentials to handy hacks

It’s estimated that over 3.2million UK households got a new pet during the pandemic, so it’s therefore no surprise that pet-friendly holidays have soared this summer.

However, there’s a lot of planning and admin that comes with bringing your fluffy best friend along for a holiday, especially when it comes to making the trip stress-free for both the pet and their owner.

Luckily, one vet is on hand with some useful advice, whether it’s your first time taking a pet on holiday, or you’re looking for new ideas after a previously stressful experience!

Dr Jessica May, UK lead vet at video vet service FirstVet has shared her top 10 tips exclusively with the Mirror across everything from what to pack, to handy hacks for pet owners.

Check out her top tips below…

1. Get a carrier

A cat sits inside a red carrier in a car
A carrier is very handy if you’re going on a long journey

For long journeys in the car, a carrier is usually necessary for both cats and dogs. This can help them to feel less stressed, as it gives them a space where they are comfortable and secure, have some visibility of their surroundings, as well as preventing them from trying to roam if they get restless.

A carrier should give a cat or dog enough room to turn around easily, lie down and stretch out – and always make sure that the carrier itself is securely strapped in with a seatbelt.

Give your pet time to get used to it before a long journey – try leaving the carrier door open at home; place their bedding, toys or food inside, and allow them to explore the space for at least a few weeks before you travel.

2. Don’t forget a portable water bowl

Dog looking out of a car window on a scenic drive
There are easy ways to keep your pet happy on your travels

Pets still need to stay hydrated on the road, so having a way to get water to them is essential. Travel water bottles for pets come with a small tray that they can drink from and are ideal for providing a drinks stop while travelling. For long journeys, this water tray should be accessible from the carrier.

3. Get a window shade

The dangers of hot cars for animals are well documented, so it is important to make sure you have ways of keeping pets cool, particularly during the summer months. Bringing along a window shade can ensure that cats and dogs are out of direct sunlight and help prevent problems ranging from dehydration to heatstroke.

4. Pack a first aid kit

When travelling with pets it is best to prepare for unexpected mishaps by bringing along a first aid kit. Some essentials to include are gauze, bandages, tweezers, a thermometer and styptic powder. If you are planning on venturing out to the countryside, it is also a good idea to bring a tick remover in case your four-legged friend picks up any unwanted critters.

5. Food

If you are able to bring some pet food with you, you may want to bring enough for your trip. This avoids making any unexpected changes to their diet, which could lead to an upset stomach. Treats are also a useful tool for helping confused dogs navigate the logistics of holidays but, as always, they should be used in moderation. Collapsible food and drinking bowls are also useful if you are on the go.

6. Home comforts

Leaving the house for the first time since lockdown may be a daunting experience for a pet, especially if it is their first big trip away. Bringing along some home comforts can help to make the transition a bit easier. If your dog or cat has a favourite blanket or cushion, then bringing this along for the journey may help to keep them calm.

7. Toys

Keeping animals’ minds occupied can prevent them getting restless or anxious in unfamiliar territory. Putting a few of your pet’s favourite toys in their carrier can be a way to keep them happy on the journey.

8. Pheromone Sprays

You can buy pheromone sprays to help dogs and cats relax, which you can start using about a week before you travel. These sprays release dog or cat appeasing pheromones: chemicals which can help to keep dogs or cats calm but are not detectable by humans.

They occur naturally and are completely safe to use with animals. If you have any concerns you should consult a vet before introducing any major changes to your pet’s routine.

9. Toilet trips

For humans and animals alike, there is nothing worse than getting caught short in the middle of a long journey, so make sure to take plenty of bathroom breaks.

Look out for any signs that your cat or dog is uncomfortable during the journey, and take breaks at regular intervals even if they seem to be fine.

Cats can be quite particular about where they go to the bathroom, so it is a good idea to bring a portable litter box, which can be useful both for the journey and for using at your accommodation.

10. Passports and certificates

Young Girl Chasing dog in sand dunes
It’s estimated over three million UK households got a pet during lockdown

If you are travelling into Northern Ireland or outside the UK, you will need a pet passport, Export Health Certificate or an Animal Health Certificate to travel with your pet.

These are needed to show that your pet is up to date with their vaccinations and in good health before they travel. Some countries may also require additional documents, so always make sure to check the rules at least three months in advance of your journey to ensure that you have everything in place.

11. Microchipping

All dog owners are legally required to get their dog microchipped, and similar rules are on the way for cats.

The microchip carries contact information for the pet’s owners, which is stored on one of the government approved databases. This information should always be kept up to date and this is particularly important when going on holiday with your pet, as it is the best way to ensure you can be reunited with your pet should they get too intrepid during your travels.

Have you got any good tips for travelling with pets? We want to hear your ideas in the comments below…