Holiday Plans For Your Pets

Holiday Plans For Your Pets

With the summer holidays upon us once again, you may already have your holiday arranged, but are your pets ready for that “restful” break you are planning?

We humans love our holidays because they provide a welcome break from our normal daily routines, but it can be a very stressful time for our pets who may find a change to their normal routine very unsettling and this may present itself as behavioural changes and even a loss of appetite.

Your pet will deal with their change in routine far better if they are fit and healthy, so a veterinary check before you go away can be helpful in spotting any problems that may arise whilst you are away, it is also a great idea to let your veterinary practice know that you will be on holiday in case they need to see your pet in your absence or discuss your pets clinical notes with another vet. If your pet needs to take regular medication you will need to make sure that you have enough to last.

Kennels and Catteries

If your pet will be staying at a kennel or cattery, make sure that you arrange to visit it beforehand; You should be able to inspect it for cleanliness and see how happy the other boarders are. You will also be able to discuss the individual care your pet will receive and what their daily routine will be.

Many pets don’t mind going into kennels and there has been recent research that suggests some dogs find it really exciting. Some pets, however, really do not like the extreme change and sometimes noisy environment of a boarding kennel or cattery and can be very distressed by the whole experience.  Before you leave, make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date as they will not be allowed to stay in kennels if they are not; dogs may also require a kennel cough booster vaccination before their stay in kennels, so discuss this with your vet and the boarding kennels (ideally needs to be given at least 10-14 days before your dog goes in to kennels).

It is also a good idea to make sure your pet’s preventative flea and worming treatments are up to date before they go into kennels.

Kennels and cattery

Pet Sitters

Some pets cope much better if they are looked after in their own home environment and many companies now offer pet sitting services. Someone will either pop in to see your pet once or twice daily or move into your home until you get back to provide 24 hour care. these services are becoming more and more popular with pet owners and are a great alternative to the stressful kennel environment.

Make sure that you are comfortable with the person/company who will be looking after your pet, that they are reputable and have the relevant insurance policy for this job.

Dog sitters

Another option for dogs is that they go and stay in someone’s home until you get back from your holiday. After a chat with you about your dog’s requirements and favourite things a host or carer takes your dog into their home for the duration of your holiday.

Pet Sitter

Whichever type of care your choose for your pet, make sure that you let your veterinary practice know how long you will be away for and that you give permission for someone else to authorise treatment for your pet in case they cannot get hold of you in an emergency. If your pet is insured, make sure that your vet has a copy of the relevant paperwork/policy documents.

Taking your pet with you 

If you are lucky enough to be taking your pet on holiday with you, remember to take food, toys, bedding and pet insurance details with you.

If your pet is microchipped you may be able to update your pet’s id chip details to your holiday address and contact number (just remember to change it all back when you return!). You should also ensure your dog or cat is wearing an id tag with your contact details on it at all times, in case he or she gets lost (This is a legal requirement for dogs in the UK when in a public place).

It is a very good idea to know where the local veterinary practice is and their phone number in case of emergencies.

Dog owners should make sure that they know of any local rules and regulations regarding where and how dogs can be walked – this is especially important on beaches and in protected areas.

Remember not to leave your pet alone in a car or caravan, especially sunny days as they will get far too hot.

You can read our articles on travelling with pets for more information about how to keep them as comfortable as possible during the journey.

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Pet Holiday Checklist

  • Food and bowls
  • Lead
  • Bed/bedding
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Collar with id tags
  • Id chip details updated as necessary
  • Contact number and address of a local vet (plus your own vet’s number in case they need to contact them)
  • Pet insurance details
  • Let your usual vet know if you are going away and your pet is in someone else’s care
  • Recent photo of your pet in case he or she runs away from where you are staying

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Making Travelling & Vet Visits Less Stressful For Cats

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Most cats find travelling outside their home to be a very stressful experience.
Cats aren’t stupid, they know that the cat carrier means a trip to the vet where they will very likely be poked and prodded, often when they are already feeling poorly or sore. Or it could be a trip to the cattery while you are away on holiday, either way your cat knows that the cat carrier is not a good thing. I’m sure that more than a few of you have tried getting your cat through that small opening in the cat carrier and ended up completely stressed, with a few battle wounds and a missing cat!

We’ve all been here!

How to make travelling less stressful

1. If possible leave the cat carrier in your home (rather than the shed or garage) with a nice cosy bed in it. Rewarding your cat with a tasty treat when he or she chooses to go near or into the carrier , should encourage  frequent use and ensure your cat doesn’t always associate it with nasty trips. It also means that your cat learns to feel safe in there.

2. Make sure the carrier is sturdy and escape Two comfortable and happy kittiesproof once the door is closed. The last thing you want is a stressed cat leaping about in the car on the way to the veterinary surgery or cattery, or worse escaping while you are in a car park miles away from home.

3. Choose your carrier carefully. It is much easier to pick up a cat and pop him into the open top of a basket/carrier, rather than trying to force him through a small doorway in the front – if his feet are on the floor it is much easier to escape! If you can’t get a top opening carrier, my tip is to position the carrier so that the door is facing upwards and gently put the cat in.

4. It is always a good idea to have some sort of absorbent liner in the carrier in case your cat has an accident. Absorbent pet bedding such as Vet-Bed can be used or you could get some incontinence pads which are quite cheap to buy and easily cut to size.

5. Using Feliway (www.feliway.co.uk) spray in the carrier 15 minutes before you place you cat into it may help to keep your cat calmer on the journey and at the vets. Feliway helps cats naturally cope with stressful situations and is available from your veterinary practice or in some of the bigger pet stores.

6. If you are going to be travelling a long distance with your cat, ensure that he or she has access to fresh water. For very long journeys a larger travelling crate with room for a litter tray and somewhere to hide may make for a happier kitty. You may also want to consider chatting to your vet about medication to help your cat feel calmer on the journey; as well as using Feliway, products such as Zylkene or Scullcap & Valerian may also be helpful.

putting cat into upended carrier

How to place your cat into a front opening carrier
Turn the basket onto its end so the door is facing upwards. Have someone steady the carrier to prevent it from tipping over. Gently lower the cat into the carrier and close the door.

To avoid stress at the veterinary surgery

Put your cat in a carrier when you visit your vet because your cat will feel much more secure in there than if he or she were loose in your arms. There are cat harnesses available, but if your veterinary practice isn’t lucky enough to have a separate cat waiting area, your cat will be terrified and have nowhere to hide if a dog comes into the waiting room.

Turn your cat carrier around so that it’s door is facing a wall , chairback or yourself (obviously this doesn’t apply to top-opening carriers!). Some cats are also much happier with a towel or small blanket over the top of their carrier to give them even more privacy, especially if they are in a wire basket.

Try not to sit close to any dogs who might be visiting the vets. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen dogs being allowed to sniff the carrier containing a terrified kitty who cannot escape, and the dog owner saying “it’s ok, he’s good with cats” and the cat owner replying “Oh yes, it’s fine she lives with a dog” Poor cat!  The same applies to other cats, it is best to face them away from each other when possible.

At Castle Vets we are fortunate enough to have completely separate cat facilities so that our feline patients never have to be worried about dogs nosing their baskets and trying to get in. Our feline patients are much calmer and easy to handle because dogs never enter the waiting room, consulting rooms, kennels or operating theatre.

Feliway is often helpful as it will help keep your cat calm.

I hope you find this article informative, please let us know what you think in the comments.

If you have any questions please contact your veterinary practice

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