Careful planning for that cool family trip helps pets chill out

PREPARE: Make sure everyone enjoys their winter getaway. Picture: Shutterstock
PREPARE: Make sure everyone enjoys their winter getaway. Picture: Shutterstock

For those fortunate enough to be taking a break this winter, holidaying locally can be a chance to share the fun with important family members like our pets.

However, when preparing to travel with your pet, there are a few things you need to consider before you hit the road.

The right road-trip buddy

Not every pet is cut out for travel. Some 19 per cent of dog owners say they take their pooch on holidays with them, while only two per cent of cat owners do the same - and for good reason too.

Cats are easily stressed by changes in their routine and environment, which means they are often not well-suited to be travelling companions.

Some highly anxious dogs also may not cope with a big adventure, so it's important you make suitable alternative arrangements for them.

Arrange for a friend, family member or reputable pet sitter to look after your pet during your holiday, or consider booking them into a reputable boarding facility.

Before you leave

Make sure your pet has adequate identification so if they get lost you can be sure they will find their way home.

This means ensuring they are microchipped (and your details are up to date) and have an ID tag with a current contact number and address.

Ring your local vet and check that your dog's vaccinations are also up to date and they have had their flea, worm and tick prevention.

This is especially important if you are travelling into different parts of the country, where some very dangerous ticks and diseases can live, so make sure you let your vet know where you are going with plenty of forewarning, in case extra precautions are needed.

Not every pet is cut out for travel.

A comfortable journey

If you are taking your dog in the car, it's important to get them comfortable with travelling in the car before heading off on your trip.

Make sure they have water, and if it's a long journey, food.

Remember to take plenty of breaks to give them time to stretch their legs, sniff their new environment and go to the toilet.

Even the best-behaved dogs can get overexcited in a new environment, so it's essential you keep them on a leash at all times.

Make sure to never, ever, leave your pet unattended in the car.

Even in the winter months, temperatures inside a car can quickly rise to dangerous levels and make your pet seriously unwell.

If you have a flat-faced breed, such as a pug or French bulldog, you might need to reconsider travelling with these pets altogether, especially to warmer areas.

These dogs can suffer from breathing difficulties and have trouble cooling themselves down.

Reaching your destination

Your dog will likely be very excited to experience a new environment and will want to explore every inch of the new holiday home.

If you have a backyard, make sure it's secure so your dog can't escape and don't leave them outside unsupervised in case they escape.

Try to not leave your dog at home by themselves for long periods of time.

If you brought them on your holiday, it's important that you spend time with them.

Even the most confident dogs may get stressed or experience separation anxiety when left by themselves in a new place for too long.

It's a good idea to bring some of their favourite toys, or their dog bed from home.

This will smell of all the creature comforts of home and help them relax.

If you do all this preparation, you can give your pooch the time of their life on their winter retreat. And the best part is, you don't have to say goodbye.