Whether you’re heading down to the coast, taking a bush break or staying at home, here are a few ways you can get your pets prepped for the holiday season
The countdown to the festive season has begun, and this year, many more families will be going on holiday compared to last Christmas. That means it’s time to start thinking about how your fur-babies will be spending their festive season – will they be staying home and boarding at a kennel, or coming along? Either way, here’s how to make sure your furry family members enjoy the upcoming break.
Make sure your pets’ vaccinations are up to date
Whether your pets are coming with you or staying at home and boarding, it’s important to ensure their vaccinations are up to date. “For boarders, kennel cough is a definite concern, but it’s also tick and flea season, so you want to make sure you have treated your pets against bites,” says Dr Tarryn Dent, Business Unit Lead for Companion Animals at Zoetis South Africa, a global animal health company.
“Vaccinations are one of the most important preventative measures you can take for the health of your dog or cat,” says Dent. “They help protect your pet from viral and bacterial diseases and if they are going to be exposed to new animals and new places, you want to make sure they have all the protection they can get.”
One of the most important reasons to maintain your pet’s vaccines, however, is rabies protection. “Rabies can be transmitted to humans and is nearly 100% fatal to both people and pets,” says Dent. “It’s essential we do everything we can to minimise disease exposure. When traveling to new places, you never know what animals you may encounter, so rather be safe than sorry.”
Speak to your veterinarian about your pet’s vaccine schedule, if they are due for booster shots and which jabs they should have before the December break.
Get ready for a full family holiday
If you are planning to take your pets with you on holiday, here are 4 simple tips to ensure the trip is a success.
1. Speak to your vet
Before you begin planning your trip, consult with your vet. They know your pet’s health best and can flag any potential health issues. They may even recommend that you hire a house sitter or board them in a facility rather than bringing them along.
2. Plan a safe journey
Will your pet be sitting on your lap, in a soft basket or a soft-sided carrier? Are they comfortable in a car or will they be anxious? Do they get car sick? “Pets who suffer from car sickness could experience nausea, vomiting, excessive drooling, and occasionally other signs, including poor appetite for several hours after the trip,” says Dent. “Animals may whine, yawn, or show signs of uneasiness or fear. If you’ve experienced car sickness with your pet before, speak to your vet about possible medication to help them relax and to treat their reaction to motion.”
3. Make time for play and toilet breaks
Travelling with a pet takes a lot longer than without them. You’ll need to stop regularly to allow your pet to relieve themselves, and dogs in particular need to be able to stretch their legs, particularly if you’re traveling for a few hours.
4. Find pet-friendly accommodation (and holiday spots)
It’s becoming increasingly common for people to take their pets on holiday with them, but don’t assume that your accommodation is pet-friendly. Make sure you ask and research the pet friendly places you can go in the area. You can’t simply lock your pet up in a hotel room, guest house or Airbnb if animals aren’t allowed at all the local highlights you’re planning to visit. Here are a few additional questions you can ask too:
- Do they allow all breeds of dogs?
- Will there be an additional pet fee?
- Do they charge a refundable cleaning deposit?
- Is the house fenced?
Preparing your pet to stay home without you
If you can’t take your pet with you on holiday, you’ll need to prepare them for a boarding facility or hire a pet sitter.
“It’s not always possible to find a pet sitter, but there are lovely boarding kennels available today,” says Dent. “It’s important to do a site visit before making a choice and to socialise your pet so that they are comfortable in day care with other animals. Each cat and dog is unique, so matching a kennel’s services to with your pet’s needs will help to set them up for a successful stay.”
Pets with separation anxiety need extra preparation before being boarded. Spending time at the new facility to acclimate and get to know the staff can be very helpful. Choose a facility that allows trial visits and is willing to spend the extra time needed to help your furry family member feel more comfortable.
Don’t let your pet over-indulge
Whether you’re going away or enjoying a ‘staycation’ don’t let your pet partake in your leftovers. “We all over-indulge over the holiday period, but a lot of human food – especially rich human food – can be very bad for a pet’s health,” says Dent. “It can be tempting to want to share the delicious treats you’re enjoying with them, but for the good of their health, rather don’t.”