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How To Travel With Pets

Pet Dog

Our pets are part of the family - whether it is your lap dog, your hyperactive Jack-Russel or your lazy cat that hogs the sunniest seat in the house everyday, they all bring something special to the home.

If you're taking your furry friends on holiday with you, you need to do some planning to make the trip there and back as comfortable as possible for them. Car trips, ferry rides, train journeys and (especially) flights can be traumatic for pets and often require a fair amount of planning. To give your dogs and cats a softer ride, we have taken the time to come up with a list of Do's and Don'ts for bringing them along.

  • Do

    1. PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE. All pets leaving the country are expected to have a DEFRA certificate that shows that your dog/cat/ferret has been micro-chipped and has received the correct vaccinations and blood tests. This can be an arduous process, so it's best to see a vet as soon as you've decided to take your pet on holiday. Each country has its own set of rues and standards to abide by when it comes to allowing pets from abroad in. Log on to www.pettravel.com to find out more about the rules of your destination.

    2. BRING SOME THINGS FROM HOME. Animals don't always understand where they're going on holiday. It probably seems like a strange concept when you've got a perfectly good bed and plenty of food at home. To make them feel more comfortable, bring along some toys, pillows or blankets from home. The scent and feel of familiar items will put them at ease.

    3. TREAT YOUR PET LIKE A SPECIAL PASSENGER/TODDLER. Make arrangements before you travel, so that there are no surprises when you arrive at your hotel with Sparkles the Bulldog. Let the airline know you are bringing a pet as soon as possible. You want to make sure that you are put on the correct flight and (more importantly) seat. Your hotel, B&B and resort may also require some documentation upon arrival, so call as far in advance as possible to find out.

    4. GIVE YOUR ANIMALS GINGER BISCUITS BEFORE YOU TRAVEL BY CAR. A car/plane or train ride can be rough on the tummies of your animals (ESPECIALLY dogs). If your dog is prone to throwing up while in motion, try giving him or her a ginger biscuit before leaving. Ginger settles the stomach naturally and is far kinder to their systems than chemical medicine.

    5. CONSIDER SEDATIVES (BUT ONLY AS A LAST OPTION). If your dog or cat wails blue murder the minute they leave the house, and arrives covered in urine after hours of terrifying chaos in the car/plane, you should speak to your vet about a travelling sedative. We have read reports of animals who spend their entire holiday with no voice, because they've meowed or barked themselves flat the whole way to their destination.

    6. PRE-FLIGHT/CAR TRIP CHECKS. Make sure that your dogs have emptied their bladders and had something to eat before you leave (pets don't get the same 'chicken or beef' offer when the waitresses come around). If you are going on a long road trip or a flight that will take up most of the day, ensure your animals have water with them too.

    7. SEAT THEM PRACTICALLY. Make sure that your dogs and cats are somewhere out of the direct sunlight - you don't want them to dehydrate on the way there. At the same time, if they are in the back of the car when it's snowing outside, make sure that they have blankets.

      Also make sure that their enclosures are on solid ground. The trip is already going to be unsettling; the last thing they want is a cage or box that rattles and shakes all the way there.

    8. PREPARE YOUR ANIMALS FOR THE TRIP. If your pets have never been on a car trip before, take them for a drive somewhere fun to ease them into it. If they're going to be flying in a tight enclosure, like a cage or a kitty box, put them inside it and take them somewhere enjoyable - granny's house, where they get lots of treats, or the beach. This will all go a long way to helping them form positive associations with something that is not necessarily pleasant for them.

    9. MAKE YOUR ANIMALS WEAR A COLLAR. Taking your pets on holiday is a massive responsibility. Unlike your children, if your dog or cat runs off and gets lost, he or she can't approach the nearest stranger and say "I've lost my mommy! I live at 123 Burgundy Avenue." You need to make sure that your animals have been chipped and wear collars with all your contact details in them.

    10. IF YOU ARE FLYING, BOOK DIRECT. Be considerate of your animals when flying with them. Going from London to France via Ireland, Wales and Scotland because it's £30 cheaper is not fair on your animals - especially those travelling in kitty boxes and cages.

Last Updated: June 2011