Planning a holiday? Naturally, you can’t stop thinking about how great it’s going to be. But what about your closest, dearest companion? Not your significant other, rather that four-footed furry friend who wakes you up with a sloppy lick, or trips you up as you head for the kitchen and your first cup of coffee. Yes, that’s right – your dog or cat.
Before you rush out and book that holiday, have you thought about what you will do with your pet?
Let’s face it – some pets, however much you love them, just don’t enjoy being away from familiar territory. This particularly applies to cats, but some dogs too are happiest in their home environment. So your first decision is whether to take your pet on holiday with you, or leave it at home.
If it’s the latter, you have two choices – either place your best friend in pet accommodation, or have someone come in and pet-sit for you.
Your pet will be happiest if you can enlist a professional house sitter while you’re away; you can relax too, knowing that your house, pet and plants are being cared for full time. Having a friend or relative calling in to feed your pet is an option, but falls well behind the security of a full time house sitter who can give your pet the attention it needs.
Placing your pet in accommodation requires planning, too. Make sure you book well in advance. Visit the kennel facilities to satisfy yourself that the accommodation and staff will be suitable for your pet.
Taking Your Pet on Holiday
If you can’t bear to leave your best buddy at home, it’s not just a question of packing an extra suitcase – there’s still a lot of planning involved.
Firstly, you need to make sure that your pet will be welcome at your place of stay. Check out the South African Pet Friendly Directory, which lists almost 350 places that will accept pets. You could also check the online pet-friendly directory, SA-Venues.
Whichever you choose, make sure you get hold of a copy of the pet policy that applies for the establishment. This should list the types of pets that can be accommodated, sleeping arrangements, special facilities available and any extra charges that may apply for pets.
Just like humans, pets need to be healthy to enjoy their holidays. Take your pet to the vet for a check up and vaccination well before you intend to travel. If you’re going to a rabies area (Kwa-Zulu Natal, for example) your pet’s rabies vaccination must have been given in the 30 days before you travel.
While at the vet, get your pet’s identification (such as microchip) checked and get your pet used to wearing a collar that can be marked with at least your phone number. It is a good idea to check out pet insurance before you take that break – why not do that while you arrange your own travel insurance?
Travelling by car with a pet can be a trying experience if he is not used to it. Train your pet accordingly, as far in advance as possible. Get a strong pet carrier that has plenty of room for your pet to sit, stand and lie down. Make sure it has good ventilation and comfy bedding – something that your pet normally uses is ideal and provides some security. If you’re getting a new carrier, let him get familiar with it.
Take plenty of water with you and make frequent stops so your pet can stretch out and take natural breaks – important for yourself, as well. Whatever you do, do not leave your pet in a locked car, even with the windows open. Ever.
Most domestic flights will accommodate your pet, but he will need to travel in a special container and in a pressurized hold in the aircraft. Food and water will be your responsibility and you will need to check in earlier than normal – usually 90 minutes beforehand – but enquire with the airline first. They will normally charge an extra fee for your pet and most will suggest that your pet be sedated before the flight to ease the stress.
Your holiday won’t be much fun if your pet constantly gets into trouble or disturbs other guests. Think over how your pet will behave while on holiday and what you can do to prepare him for the time away.
- Wash and groom him before you leave, even he detests taking a bath!
- Apply a good flea and tick treatment.
- Take all the bedding, toys, leash, bowls, food and cleaning supplies that you’ll need and put in a few old sheets or blankets that you can use to cover furniture.
- While you’re on holiday, remember to observe hotel policy on pets. Don’t take your pet into the dining room, lounge or pool area unless this is allowed. Even if it is permissible, it is only courteous to check with others before entering communal areas.
- If you are staying on a farm or a rural area, remember even the most peaceful (and smallest) dog or cat can get delusions of grandeur and imagine itself a lion, wreaking havoc among livestock or native wild life. Keep your pet under control.
It only takes a little planning and forethought for your pet and you to have a whale of a holiday together!