Holidays with your dog – part 1

[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”5″]H[/su_dropcap]oliday season at the park seems to inevitably bring up the question: ‘And what do you do with your dog?’ Since we have had Micro, we have not left him once. Holidays have not been the same – they are better than before, but at the same time slightly more complicated.

More generally speaking, for holidays you’ve got to ask yourself two main questions to begin with: are you going to take your dog? or not?

If you choose to leave your dog behind – and there are numerous reasons why one can’t take the pet, there is a whole range of businesses at your disposal. Pet sitters, kennels, home pet sitters – lots of options. Whatever you chose, you want to leave your dog with a trusted person – and I put a huge emphasis is on the word trusted. I have lost a cat due to neglect by vets who were running the cat hotel, and it took me a long time to forgive myself for not having checked out the place more thoroughly than I did. There are fantastic people out there, who will love your pet – perhaps even more than you do (if that’s at all possible) and take excellent care of them. Micro’s friend Gracie even goes on her own holidays to Cornwall with her pet sitter, while her humans are abroad. Lucky Gracie! But there is also a dark side to the business, and pets can rarely talk to us to tell us how terrible it was to be left somewhere. You just want to make extra sure nothing bad happens to your pet.

Do your homework. You don’t want to end up with a traumatised pet, or worse, at the end of your holiday. There are wonderful pet sitters and kennels out there, and you will find one that suits you and your furry friend. Check them out before you go on a big holiday, just book them for a day if it’s a pet sitter. Visit the kennel, check out all the facilities – most places have in-built cameras now that you can access with your mobile and see your dog while you’re away. Pet sitters will send you regular updates (pictures and videos) and with regular I mean more than just once a week.

This is one set of problems solved. The other set opens up when you take your dog along with you. If you stay within the UK, you can travel to most places even if you don’t own a car. Dogs go on trains, buses, taxis, the tube… You will need to do a bit of research into which places are dog friendly so that your doggie is not stranded half-way through the holiday – beaches, holiday cottages, pubs, etc. there are dog friendly options for everyone/ every dog.

Leaving the UK: When taking your dog abroad you face a slightly more complex set of issues. You (or rather your dog) needs an EU pet passport, which you need to pay for (ask your vet – everyone handles it slightly differently). Since micro-chipping is compulsory in the UK, your dog now only requires the rabies vaccination in addition, and will be able to get a passport. After the first vaccination you have to wait for a minimum of 21 days before traveling (or rather before you can come back into the UK)! The vaccine will last 3 years, so better get that done early. This is your minimum requirement, no matter where you take your dog.

Next, make sure you read up on the special requirements for every country (and region)! For the USA you will need an extra health certificate as close in time as possible to your booked flight. Short-nosed dogs normally are not allowed to board a plane. Small dogs can travel in cabin (but only leaving the UK, not coming back!), bigger dogs will board the plane differently. Austria requires all dogs to be muzzled in public transport, and also by law forbids to tie up dogs in front of shops, restaurants, etc. leaving them outside without supervision. Some breeds are banned from some countries: Sweden does not allow Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs or Saarloos Wolfdogs to enter the country. Denmark is not a friend of bully breeds  – you can travel through, but forbidden breeds are not allowed to even leave the car. In the recent past there have been a lot of bad reports from dog owners travelling in Denmark, some even had their dogs taken away and put to sleep. I don’t know what is really true there, the last time I was in Denmark I was 10 months old…

Again, your vet is your first point of contact: ask them tons of questions! Health requirements when travelling, requirements within your holiday country, the best way to travel, how to secure your dog in the car (not that they transform into a projectile when you suddenly have to brake), food to take, doggie first aid kit, illnesses that you need to protect your dog from in other countries. Come with a prepared list. That helps you and your vet to cover all your questions! Be considerate: vets are only humans as well they cannot mind read. But a good vet should take the time to help you, give advice or at the very least give you ideas where to look things up. If not, then it’s probably time to switch vets.

Coming back into the UK after having been aboard – as long as it’s from a listed country  (EU; USA; Canada, Mexico, see here for the full list) your dog only needs a tapeworm treatment 24 hours minimum and 120 hours maximum before re-entering the UK. Make sure the vet stamps and properly dates the pet passport when the de-worming tablet is given.

Unless you want to do the full Tour d’Europe, you won’t practically need to check out that many things, but we will give you some more practical tips in the next post.