Wherever you’re planning to go on your next dog-friendly holiday, it’s likely that most of us will be travelling by car – especially if it’s a staycation. Before we hit the road and travel to our doggy destination, it’s important we’re aware of what we should and should not do when it comes to travelling safely with our canine companions.
To seek some expert advice, we spoke to Pawsquad Head Vet, Mark Boddy. From car travel to doggy travel kits, Mark shares his top tips on how to travel safely with your furry friend – ensuring maximum fun on your hound holiday!
When booking with PetsPyjamas, you get free access to PawSquad’s 24/7 expert vet helpline, so you can have peace of mind while on your travels.
What should you pack in your doggy travel kit?
- Collar and tag: Make sure that your dog is microchipped and fitted with a collar and tag with your address and telephone number. Consider purchasing a GPS tracker if you are going somewhere unfamiliar or your dog is prone to wandering off.
- Water: Take plenty of fresh water, particularly when travelling in hot weather. Make frequent stops to allow your pup to drink and exercise.
- Food: You will need to plan ahead for your dog’s meals. Bring food and bowls with you. You may wish to have a cool box, and check whether your accommodation has a fridge if your dog eats fresh or chilled food.
- Crate or seatbelt: Ensure you have either a secure travel crate or a well-fitting harness and safety belt to secure your dog while travelling. This is not only for their protection but, in the event of an accident, it reduces the risk of passengers being injured by the dog. Small dogs and puppies should be transported in pet carriers if possible.
- Bedding and blankets: You can put a familiar blanket or bed wherever your dog will be travelling in the car, to encourage them to settle. This will also be useful for overnight stays.
- Toys and treats: Bring familiar toys and treats/chews to keep your dog happy and entertained in their new environment.
- The usual: Make sure you have the essentials for walkies – poop bags, a collar or harness and leash, balls, and maybe a towel to dry off after the beach!
- Medication: If your dog has any regular medications then make sure to pack them. Also make sure your vaccinations, flea and worming treatment is up to date before going away. Different parts of the UK have different parasite risks for your dog so you may need to consider a different anti-parasite product from your usual one. If you are travelling abroad, there are more exotic parasites to consider as well. Ask your vet or the PawSquad team if you are unsure.
- First Aid Kit: It can be worth taking a basic first aid kit with you (for both you and your dog) in case of accidents and injuries. A tick remover is a useful addition if you are visiting an area where these parasites are likely to be present.
- The PawSquad app! The final item on your list to give you and your furry friend that extra peace of mind. During your booking with PetsPyjamas, you have free instant access to our 24/7 vet team by video, voice or web chat. Download the app and register before you leave for quick access in an emergency.
Should you take your dog on short car journeys first to acclimatise for longer journeys?
It can be useful to introduce your dog to the car before going on a long journey for the first time. Take a short trip, perhaps with someone sitting in the back seat or near to them for reassurance. Try and ensure they are comfortable, with their own blanket or toys.
Some dogs can be anxious when first travelling, but often the noise and motion of the car will calm them and most usually fall asleep. If your dog is particularly nervous or you think may have a car phobia, consider talking to a behaviourist on the PawSquad app.
Should you take your dog to your vet for a check-up before travelling long distances?
If your dog has any pre-existing conditions, it may be worth checking with your vet (or one of our PawSquad vets) about any special considerations before travelling. Make sure you have enough of any regular medications to last your holiday.
If your dog is going abroad, contact your veterinarian well before travelling to find out what vaccinations and health certificates it will need. It may take several months to complete necessary vaccinations, tests and paperwork before your dog is allowed to travel.
You can check the gov.uk website to see what rules are in place at the time of travel. If you’re travelling by plane, you will also need to contact the airline well in advance to find out their rules for transporting dogs. Some airlines also have a list of restricted breeds, which often includes brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds, so it is best to contact the airline before you book your tickets, just to make sure.
Should you feed your dog before travelling?
As much as possible, try to stick to your regular feeding routine, but do make sure your dog has time to digest before jumping in the car. Sticking to a routine will also help your dog to settle when you arrive at wherever you are staying. You may wish to restrict feeding before travel if your dog is likely to suffer from travel sickness. Always ensure you allow enough time to toilet before and, if necessary, during your journey.
If your dog suffers from travel sickness, what should you do?
Travel sickness affects 1 in 6 dogs, and can affect dogs of all ages. Typical signs include vomiting, nausea, excessive lip licking, drooling, restlessness, anxiety and trembling. If your dog suffers from motion sickness do not feed it within about an hour of the start of the journey.
If the problem is severe, you can talk to your vet before travelling, and they will be able to tell you whether preventative medication is suitable for your dog.
What are the general do’s when it comes to car travel with your dog?
- Make sure your dog is comfortable and secure, in a well-fitting safety harness – ideally positioned somewhere where they cannot distract you.
- Plan ahead to allow for feeding and toilet breaks
- Try to exercise your dog before setting off, this will encourage them to settle and sleep on the drive
What are the general don’ts when it comes to car travel with your dog?
- Do not leave your dog unattended in the car – remember a car on a hot day quickly becomes an oven.
- Do not feed them a large meal right before travel
- Don’t allow your dog to roam freely in the car or interfere with driving. Not only is this dangerous for your dog and other passengers, but it may also invalidate your car insurance in the event of an accident
For beach holidays, what tips would you suggest to keep your dog safe on the beach?
- Take a beach tent or parasol to ensure your dog has somewhere they can be out of the heat
- Take plenty of drinking water
- You may wish to take a doggy life jacket
- Use sunscreen on vulnerable areas e.g. ear tips or top of nose, especially if the skin is unpigmented or lacks hair.
- Wash feet to remove salt and sand after returning from the beach and apply petroleum jelly or a soothing moisturiser if necessary
For dogs that are nervy travellers, what can you do to help calm them down?
Getting your dog used to the car and taking their favourite blanket can go a long way to calming them down. If your dog is an extremely nervous traveller you may wish to speak to a behaviourist or even ask your vet for a sedative before going on a long car journey.
They will need to examine your dog first. If you are given a sedative it should be administered about half an hour before the journey and will last for up to eight hours. It’s important to be aware that sedatives can have side effects, too. As a general rule, it is not recommended to sedate your dog before flights.
What about if you are travelling with your dog by train?
Much like the advice for car travel, you should:
- Do short practice runs
- Pack all the essentials
- Bring a blanket to encourage your dog to settle
- Bring chews/a lickimat/quiet toys so that they don’t become bored or frustrated
- Toilet before getting on the train and consider breaking up your journey to allow regular toilet breaks and chance to stretch their legs!
Should you leave your dog alone in your hotel room?
If your pet is noisy, or chews or scratches on furniture, it is best not to leave him alone in the accommodation. Separation anxiety can be heightened in unfamiliar circumstances. However, if you have crate trained your dog, this is an excellent opportunity to offer it to him.
A crate will provide an area that he is familiar with, and will help him feel safe and at home. If you are concerned about how your pet may (mis)behave, it may be helpful to get the advice of a pet behaviourist before you leave.
Have you booked your next hound holiday? 🐶🧳
No? Well, if you’re after a little bit of inspiration, why not check out our travel collections? Hound picked by our team of travel experts, you’ll find a selection of fabulous dog-friendly hotels and cottages suitable for all breeds and budgets.