How to prepare your pets for the holidays

Whether you’re going on holiday or staying at home, here are a few ways you can get your pets ready

03 December 2021 - 06:00
Whether you're taking your pets with you on holiday or leaving them at home, there are a few things you need to prepare for.
Whether you're taking your pets with you on holiday or leaving them at home, there are a few things you need to prepare for.
Image: 123RF/lightfieldstudios

Lockdown levels permitting, many people are hoping to enjoy a Christmas holiday this year after the Covid-19 pandemic scuppered travel plans and beach bans resulted in masses of booking cancellations last year.

Along with your holiday preparations, it’s time to start thinking about how your pets will spend the holidays. Will they be staying home, will you be booking them into a kennel or will they be travelling with you?

To assist pet owners in getting ready for the holidays, Dr Tarryn Dent, business unit lead for Companion Animals at Zoetis SA, a global animal health company, offers pet owners a few tips to ensure their furry family members enjoy the break as much as they do.

1. ENSURE YOUR PETS’ VACCINATIONS ARE UP TO DATE

Whether your pets are travelling with you, checking into a kennel or staying home, it is important to speak to your vet to ensure their vaccinations are up to date.

“Vaccinations are one of the most important preventive 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.”

If you plan on checking your pet into a kennel, it helps to treat your pets against pests such as ticks and fleas as well.

2. PLAN FOR THE JOURNEY

If you’re planning on taking your pet with you on holiday, the first step is to consult your vet who is in the best position to raise any health concerns. They may even recommend leaving your pet at home with a pet sitter or booking them into a kennel if they feel your pet is not up to making the trip.  

The next step in planning your journey is to make sure they are safe and comfortable while making the trip.

Vaccinations are one of the most important preventive measures you can take for the health of your dog or cat

“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.”

Another important factor to consider when planning on travelling with your pets is that the journey will take longer. You’ll need to make more stops to allow your pet to take bathroom breaks and dogs in particular need to be allowed to stretch their legs on long journeys.

3. FIND THE RIGHT ACCOMMODATION

If you’re looking at booking accommodation and plan on taking your pets with you, you need to make sure you find a good fit for both you and your hosts — don’t assume your accommodation is pet-friendly.

Before booking, it is important to ask whether you will need to pay an additional pet or cleaning fee, whether all breeds are allowed on the property and whether your pet will be allowed to roam about freely or be required to be locked up inside.

Also remember that it’s not fair on your pet to keep them locked up in your hotel room, Airbnb or guest house when you go out exploring, so make sure the surrounding attractions and restaurants are sufficiently pet friendly.

4. PREPARE YOUR PET TO STAY HOME WITHOUT YOU

If you can’t take your pet with you on holiday, you’ll need to consider what will work best for them.

“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 with your pet’s needs will help to set them up for a successful stay.”

If your pet suffers from separation anxiety you will need to spend extra time in preparing them for their stay. To do this, you may want to choose a kennel that allows trial visits so that you can spend time with them at the facility before leaving on your trip.

5. DON’T LET YOUR PET OVERINDULGE

“We all overindulge 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.

Whether you’re feeling guilty for not taking your pet with on vacation and want to spoil them, or you want them to feel like they’re on holiday with you, be careful not to let them overindulge.

“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,” says Dent.

If you’re relying on a pet sitter to take care of your animals, make sure you’ve briefed them on dietary requirements and feeding schedules.


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