After months in lockdown, the announcement that the country is opening up for business again will feel like a welcome light at the end of the tunnel for many Brits.
And the first thing on some people’s post-lockdown bucket list will be to safely save their summer holiday! With concern and confusion around foreign travel – and as the government encourages people to holiday here in the UK this summer – a staycation is a great solution, seeing as Britain is blessed with many beautiful places to visit from all across the country.
Here Zoe Costigan, in-house vet for pet wellbeing specialist ITCHpet.com, suggests her top tips when travelling in the UK with your pet:
1. It might be obvious – but stay hydrated!
Water is an absolute essential when travelling with your pet. Water is not just for the really hot days in the car or after a walk – it should always be readily available to avoid heat stroke or further complications. And don’t forget to bring a drinking bowl.
2. Get car comfortable ahead of time
It’s always advisable to travel with your pet by car because you can take required stops as and when you need to (after all, no one wants an accident on the back seat!). If you have a new pup, then it’s a good idea to get them comfortable with the car from the get-go. You can start easing them in by letting them explore the interior with the engine off. Then advance to slow, short distance drives – and don’t forget to reward them with verbal praise and treats. Gradually increase the length of your drives to build up their confidence ahead of your holiday
3. Cat and canine car etiquette
So now your pet is a pro in the car – you might be thinking, where to put them? Dogs should be in the back of the car and fully restrained to avoid injury to you or your pet. And if they are in the front, The Highway Code states that the side passenger air bag needs to be turned off with the seat as far back as possible.
Cats need to be contained in a carrier – and make sure to fasten your feline in, with the seatbelt securely around the carrier. To help soothe your animal adventurer en route, remember to bring their favorite blanket or toy to help keep them calm on the journey. And remember, although the car may be a safe option for travelling in… it’s not a place to leave your pet! As it can reach dangerously hot temperatures inside, (even on cool and cloudy days) and this can be fatal. If you can, also pack some cold wet towels to help keep them cool
4. How to travel on trains
In the UK, pets are allowed on trains, with up to 2 domestic animals per person, however, with social distancing measures in place, trains can be a tricky one. So if you do need to travel on a train – be cautious of other people – as you could fetch a fine if your dog is a disturbance or causing inconvenience to passengers and staff. Make sure your dog is kept on their lead throughout the journey and that cats are kept in their carriers
If you plan to take a train and are concerned your four-legged friend might need to use the toilet in transit… then training them ahead of time to use a puppy pad is a good idea – as you can bring the pad on the train to be used as an indoor toilet area inside the cubicle. Clever. Puppy pads can also be used when it comes to cats. All you need to do is line their box with the pads for when they need to go and be sure to bring some spares for a clean change
5. Vaccines. Fleas, ticks and worms – get them treated!
When travelling with a new puppy, it’s essential to wait until they’ve been to the vet – as they have to complete their primary vaccine course if you want to take them out in public. Otherwise meeting other dogs can be dangerous to their health. Whether they are one or 11 – it’s important to keep up with booster vaccinations, flea, tick and worming treatments. Often easily forgotten about, I recommend ITCH Flea treatment, which is delivered directly to your door monthly, so you never miss a treatment. On the subject of vets – it’s also a good idea to research local veterinary clinics where you’re staying and to have their number to hand
6. Microchip before your trip
Before heading off on your holiday, make sure your pets microchip details are up to date. In case they find themselves lost; an invalid contact number can make it hard to reunite you both – an additional stress you certainly don’t need when you’re on holiday.
7. Hotels and accommodation
As of the 4th July, hotels and Airbnb’s are open for bookings again, which will be exciting for many Brits and their families. Make sure to always check if pets are allowed at your desired destination and if they have any specific pet policies
If your pet is used to having a garden to roam around at home, then try and reflect this in your accommodation so they can have similar access to the outdoors. If your dog has a crate at home, moving that to the holiday home will help make them feel calmer and hopefully minimise any damage to the house such as puppy chewing / inappropriate toileting. It’s also worth asking for a ‘pet reference’ from your accommodation host which you can proudly provide when arranging your next trip with your four-legged friend
Lastly, be aware of other people around you – not everyone feels comfortable around cats and dogs, so do try to keep them calm and controlled in the presence of strangers
A note on Pet passports and travelling to Wales & Ireland or Scotland – At present, English people cannot travel to Scotland and Wales and for those who want to enter Ireland, will have to quarantine for 14 days.
Additionally, it has been announced that when travelling to Ireland, you will need an EU pet passport. So, if you’re making the trip over to see some family you haven’t seen in months – make sure you sort out the paperwork for your pet too. It is a little different in Northern Ireland as they require no pet passport.