Happy Holidaying With Dogs

Holidaying with dogs can be an exciting and fun filled adventure if planned with care. Many owners dislike the thought of going on holidays and leaving their furry canine friend behind. However, if not properly researched and planned with care, it can become a stressful event for owner and dog alike.

Three of the major considerations when planning to go on a holiday with your dog are where to stay, how to get there safely, and what dog supplies to take.

Where to Stay

Owners must carefully research their accommodation options when taking their dog on holidays. They must know which options are available that allow dogs to reside on the premises. Web searches, dog holidaying books and word of mouth can all help. Once some options are identified, owners must contact the premises directly to discuss the current regulations for bringing their dog. Things to clarify with accommodation personnel include:

  • Number of dogs allowed in each room/cabin etc.
  • Restrictions on the size or breed of dog allowed
  • Whether dogs are allowed inside or only in the yard areas
  • The type and nature of fencing
  • Proximity to local veterinarian
  • Proximity to local off leash areas for dogs
  • What dog supplies, if any, are provided for the animal
  • Where is the closest shop for purchasing dog supplies if needed.

How to Get There Safely

Owners need to consider the appropriateness of the transportation for their dog. Some animals travel well in cars, others suffer severe travel sickness. Some dogs travel well in airplanes, whereas others would be too anxious. Each animal should be individually assessed by the owner for their suitability to travel.

Car travel: Dogs whom suffer travel sickness should be slowly acclimatised to car travel before embarking on a long trip. Short local trips can assist owners in determining whether or not their dog suffers travel sickness, and can also help acclimatise those that do to the motion of the car. Any dog which suffers travel sickness should be assessed by their local veterinarian prior to travel as travel sickness dog medication is available after a medical check up.

Dogs must be fully restrained in the car for travel. A dog harness for cars is available which attaches to the existing seat belt to ensure the dog cannot move around the cabin or become a projectile in the case of an accident.

Owners should stop regularly and take the dog on a dog lead for short walks and allow the dog to urinate or defecate if required. Dog stool bags should be taken to pick up any droppings. Water and a pet bowl should also be packed and offered in small amounts at every stop. Collapsible water bowls and insulated travel water bottles are available. It is not recommended to offer dog food unless on a very long trip so as to reduce the risk of travel sickness. Any dog supplies which will be needed during the trip should be easily accessible in the car. It is recommended to exercise the dog for a reasonable period of time at some stops. Always have the dog restrained on a dog lead with dog collar to prevent escape in unfamiliar surroundings. Do not leave the dog in the car unattended during breaks as it may rapidly overheat.

Aeroplane travel: Apart from certified assistance dogs, dogs travelling in aeroplanes are placed in the cargo hold. All dogs must be secured in a dog crate for travel. Details should be sought from the individual airlines whenever travelling with a pet. Airlines do not offer supervision of dogs travelling as cargo and as such it is not recommended to sedate dogs prior to airplane travel. A durable dog toy and/or familiar blanket should accompany your pet to assist with anxiety and boredom. Owners need to be aware of the time the animal needs to arrive at the airport to be checked in and the location of drop off and pick up.

International airplane transport of dogs is possible. However, due to the quarantine restrictions of different countries, owners must be fully aware of what medical checks and treatments are required prior to travel and the amount of time for which the animal will be quarantined prior to release in both the country they are visiting, and again on re-entry to Australia. These restrictions often make short term international vacations unsuitable for dogs to accompany owners.

What Dog Supplies Should Owners Take?

Apart from those items mentioned above, there are several specific dog supplies which should be taken for your dog.

Familiar items: To help dogs settle into the holiday accommodation and make them feel less anxious if you go out without them, taking familiar items such as a dog blanket can be beneficial.

Bedding: Ensuring your dog has a comfortable dog bed to sleep on whilst away is recommended. Easy to fold, lightweight travel dog bedding is available.

Food: It is recommended to keep your dog on the same diet whilst away. Owners should pack an adequate supply of their pet's regular dog food in case it is unavailable at their destination. Not all dog supplies are available at all holiday destinations. Sudden changes in diet can cause dietary indiscretions which are an unpleasant addition to a holiday.

Medication: An adequate supply of any regular pet medication which will be due during the holiday should be packed. Any dog medications required from the veterinarian should be purchased prior to travel as this eases difficulties in obtaining it from a different veterinarian whilst away. It is important to ensure that all vaccinations are also up to date prior to travel. Pet medications such as heartworm treatments and preventatives, flea treatments and dog crate. Your dog's regular walks and exercise should continue whilst on holiday. Taking dog toys such as balls, catching discs, chew toys and Kong toys will help keep your dog entertained. Dogs enjoy an active and fun holiday too!

Further Research to Undertake Prior to Travel

Owners need to contact the local veterinarian at their destination prior to travel and find out:

  • Address, phone number, opening hours and after hours arrangements in case of injury or illness
  • Any specific dog medical conditions in the area which may not be in the owner's home region. Examples would include ticks, snakes, sand lice, and any diseases for which vaccinations are recommended. This allows the owner to give the dog appropriate preventative pet meds or vaccinations as required prior to or during travel.

Owners should ensure that their current home and mobile contact details are registered with the microchip animal registry in case the dog becomes separated from its owners during the trip. A pet collar and pet tag with similar phone details should be on the dog.

Holidaying with your dog will be a pleasant and enjoyable experience if some important preparatory steps are taken prior to travel. Happy holidays!