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Six tips to take the stress out of travelling with your pet

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Any holiday or trip requires planning and organisation – particularly if your dog or cat will be tagging along. Learn the basics of travelling safely with your pet to ensure your trip is fun and stress-free.
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Our pets are members of our families, and we’d love to take them with us on all our holidays and trips. But in addition to keeping them safe and healthy, you’ll need to consider additional logistics when travelling away from home with your pet. While this task can feel overwhelming, with good planning and organisation it’s possible to safely include your beloved dog or cat on many of your travels. Our handy recommendations will help you get started.

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A happy golden retriever in a life jacket sitting on a boat

1. Consider if this trip is in your pet’s best interests 

The most important step in planning your trip is to think about your pet’s wellbeing. Travel can be stressful for animals as well as humans, so before you start planning the trip, ask yourself some basic questions about your pet’s suitability:  

  • Is your pet easily stressed?  
  • Is your pet old or frail?  
  • Does being in a crate or carrier cause your pet distress?  

You know your pet better than anyone, and if you think the trip might be too much for them it’s better to leave them behind.  

Additionally, ensure that your itinerary will be pet-friendly from beginning to end. Check in advance that all hotels, airlines, ferries and coach companies you plan to use allow pets. Don’t book any non-refundable accommodations or services until you are sure your pet is welcome. 

2. Know the rules and regulations about your destination 

If you are travelling abroad, you will need to research the rules and regulations of your destination country. Consider the following questions when planning your trip: 

  • Does the country require certain paperwork or permits for your pet?  
  • What vaccinations should your pet receive prior to travelling to the country?  
  • Has your pet been microchipped?  
  • What, if any, quarantine arrangements do you need to make? 
  • Is your pet or breed of dog banned from entering the country?  

You can research the answers to these questions online. Airports and government agencies typically have departments dedicated to travel regulations for pets. You may discover that you need to visit your vet before travelling to get copies of your cat’s or dog’s vaccination records, perform any necessary blood tests or get them additional vaccinations. 

3. How will your pet travel with you?

If you’re planning to travel by plane or boat, you will most likely need to take your pet in a crate or carrier (certain exceptions apply to dogs on some ferry routes). This can present problems, particularly if your pet is not used to spending time in their carrier. Before you go, ensure your dog is relaxed and comfortable in their crate with our guide to dog crating.

In the weeks and months leading up to your trip, take the time to acclimatise your pet to their crate or carrier. Place your pet’s favourite toys or treats inside the crate or carrier to encourage them to see it as a safe place where they can rest or nap. If the crate or carrier will go in a cargo hold, make sure it has a waterproof bottom, adequate ventilation and a strong, secure lock.  

If you are travelling by air, you will need to make sure your pet’s crate meets the International Air Transport Association (IATA) requirements. 

4. Consider bathroom breaks and rest stops 

If you are travelling by car, make sure you have mapped out spots along your route for your dog or cat to relieve itself.  

Dogs generally need at least three to five bathroom breaks per day, but this may increase if your dog is nervous or has been drinking more water. 

If you are travelling with your cat, give them the chance to use the litter box every four to six hours. Travel may increase the stress levels in your cat, so ensure that all areas are secure before you let your cat out of their crate to use the litter box and have a drink. 

If your pet is travelling via plane or other modes of transportation where they will be separated from you, ensure you have a crate big enough for your animal to relieve itself away from where they will sleep. Place a litter box or a puppy pad in a corner of their crate and make sure it is secured and will not fall or slide on to your pet. 

5. Understand the health risks of travelling with your pet 

Many countries have strict policies that dictate the vaccinations and health checks your pet will need before they can enter. Make sure you have researched and complied with all of these regulations before you attempt to bring your pet into another country.  

Schedule a visit to your vet to discuss your pet’s general health and suitability to travel, as well as any tips and advice they can give. You may also want to research pet and animal hospitals near your destination, in case of emergencies. 

Your pet may face different parasites abroad than they do at home, so make sure your vet recommends a product that will prevent or combat the common parasites your pet is likely to face on their travels. 

6. Stock up on pet essentials before your trip 

Make a list of everything your pet will need, and then head to the pet store. Some items to consider include:  

  • A name tag (with mobile phone number) 
  • Water and food dishes for travelling 
  • A brush and grooming tools 
  • Food and treats 

In addition pack or consider packing: 

  • One or two favourite toys 
  • A leash and harness for dogs 
  • Any regular medications your pet will need 
  • A copy of your pet’s current medical records 
  • An old towel or sheet to cover hotel furniture 
  • A picture of your pet, in case you lose them 

Travelling with your pet can be a stressful experience, but with the proper preparation and documentation, you can enjoy a worry-free holiday with all the members of your family. 

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