With animal companions becoming more and more part of the family, many people opt for holidays that include them. And this, in turn, means travelling – often extensive distances – with them in motor vehicles.South Africa is not as geared to pet travel as Europe is but the situation is changing as more people search for travel options for their dogs and cats.
By making your clients aware of the following 9 simple steps, they can ensure that their journeys are safe, and that they, and their animal companions arrive safe, relaxed and well at their destinations.
Please find a link in the September Newsletter which you can share with your clients who may be intending to travel with their animal companions.
The below listed websites may be useful when searching for appropriate accommodation.
PREPARING for your journey
- Ensure that your dog has a means of identification. Many things can happen which may result in your dog being lost. A collar and tag are visible but can be lost or removed. A microchip cannot be removed and all welfare organisations and veterinary practices can scan lost dogs that are presented to them. This can prevent great heartache in the event of an accident.
- A veterinary check up in the 2 weeks preceding the vacation is recommended. Any health concerns can be discussed, as well as the need for any travel documentation or permits. If travelling across southern African borders then a State Veterinary Certificate and certain vaccinations are required. This consultation will also afford the opportunity to discuss the need for sedation. Do you need medication for motion sickness? Is your dog using chronic medication? If so, do you have sufficient for the trip? Do you need a report from your vet in case of emergency? Can your vet recommend any practitioners in the area to which you wish to travel (a classmate or previous business associate) in the event that you require veterinary services when on holiday?
- If you do not already use a travelling crate, it is highly recommended that you obtain one (link to suppliers?) and introduce your animal companion to it in a fun and non-stressful way. (link to suggestions) Crating your canine companion has a number of potentially life saving benefits: A dog that is loose in a car can become a hurtling cannon ball in the event of a sudden stop or a collision. Placing your companion in a crate reduces the risk of injury to your companion in the event of an accident. It also stops your dog from moving around the interior of your vehicle. Crawling beneath the pedals, or standing on any gear levers or other navigational or operational buttons could be hazardous to all the occupants. Placing your dog in a carrier that can be securely fastened will also reduce the possibility of motion sickness.
- Ensure you have a harness/collar and lead in the car in order to restrain your companion when leaving your vehicle. Dogs may sometimes be frightened and bolt into traffic in the area. Having a means of control will prevent this.
- Ensure that your holiday destination allows your particular type and breed of animal companion. Do not assume that every ‘pet-friendly’ establishment allows all pet types and breeds. Prior arrangement is essential.
- If you dog is not accustomed to travelling long distances in a car, it may be advisable to gradually ease the dog into travel by taking him/her for a daily drive which gradually become longer.
- It is recommended that dogs travel on only a small amount of food with small amounts being offered every 3 hours, when stopping to rest. Do not feed your dog in a moving vehicle. Be certain that you have enough of their diet to take with you, or that you will be able to purchase their specific food at your destination. This is particularly important for dogs that have a sensitive stomach. You do not want your holiday marred by frequent visits to the local vet when it could have been avoided. It may be a consideration to take water from home or to use bottled water. All water is not equal.
- Exercise your dog before departure. Tired dogs will be inclined to sleep during the journey.
- Stop frequently when on the road. A stop at least every 3 hours is recommended.
bedding, towels, toys
bowls for food & water
cleaning aids (dog friendly wipes, poop packets)
collars, leashes and harnesses
first aid kit
food and water
medical records and any medicines
BEFORE YOU GO
ensure your destination will accept your specific type/breed of companion
go to your Vet for a checkup and any vaccinations
accustom your companion to long car trips
give your companion a small meal 3 hours before you depart
go for a walk just before you leave
ensure your companion is safely restrained throughout the trip
ensure your companion is wearing a collar/harness with leash attached, for safe stops
stop every 3 hours for a drink, a little food and a short walk
do not leave your companion alone in the hot/cold car for extended periods
ensure your companion is wearing a collar/harness and is on a leash with identification
allow some supervised exploration time before unpacking
ensure your companion is secure whilst you unpack, so that s/he does not wander off