Pet health over the holiday period
If you’re a parent, your pet is an essential part of your family. What would a family holiday be without them? Much like any holiday, it requires careful planning and logistics so that it starts off without a hitch (or itch). Before even considering vacationing locally with your fur baby or fur babies, there are a few things you need to take into consideration, like checking in with the vet and making sure that your annual vaccinations are up to date. This protects them against some nasty viruses, which definitely comes in handy when travelling to a new or unfamiliar environment, even within the same country.
Resident Veterinarian at Boehringer Ingelheim, Dr Michelle Enslin shares some insightful and crucial tips to keep in mind whilst getting your local pet-friendly getaway together.
Preventative measures before you hit the road
Taking your pet outside of his or her home environment can leave them unprotected against a higher than normal “parasite load” or prevalence. For instance, fleas are more prevalent in sub-tropical climates, such as coastal regions. The warmer temperatures and high humidity in these areas mean fleas reproduce faster and pets travelling there for the first time do not have the level of immunity to cope with the higher exposure and risk. If you will be travelling to Kwa-Zulu Natal or the Eastern Cape, make sure your pet’s rabies vaccinations are up to date due to frequent outbreaks of the disease.
The journey itself can have an effect on your cat or dog, sometimes causing a great deal of stress to an already anxious animal. When visiting your vet for your pre-holiday check-up, make your vet aware of this and he or she can prescribe medication and/or some natural supplements to help with this.
On the road
Long journeys by road can be stressful for an animal so it’s best if your pet is well accustomed to travelling by car. Cats should not be roaming free in your vehicle. Motion can affect their balance and put them at risk of falling. Therefore, cats and small dogs should be kept in secure cages or carriers in the car. Dogs, like humans, can get car-sick. However, they don’t always exhibit the same nausea symptoms that we do. The first sign of this is salivation, and you might notice an increase in lip licking.
Similarly, cats often foam around the mouth when nauseous. Look out for constant swallowing or gulping as they are trying to get rid of the extra saliva. Another tip when travelling by car is to have a blanket, pillow, or toy that smells like home to keep your pet calm along the way. It is also a good idea for one family member to sit in the backseat with the animal to keep an eye on them and for comfort.
Adjusting to the new environment
The parasite load differs from region to region and province to province so keeping on top of your pet’s parasite control is as important as vaccinations. Using a monthly, veterinary-reputable treatment, like Nexgard Spectra for dogs and Broadline Spot-on for cats is an ideal way of tackling this. Broad-spectrum protection will guard against both internal and external parasites making it the best preventative measure your pet can get, and all in one easy treatment!
Make sure your accommodation is fit to host your pet and should explicitly state that it is pet-friendly. Even if your hotel or guesthouse is pet-friendly, make sure your hosts are aware that you are bringing your pet with you. Your holiday accommodation should help your pet to feel at home away from home. If he or she is accustomed to having a garden to run around or play in, make sure your holiday home does too. That being said, make sure any outdoor area is fully enclosed – especially if you have a young puppy – or make sure your dog (or cat) is trained to stay close to you and not wander off. This is crucially important if you are to encounter other animals, domestic or otherwise. They may pose a threat to your pet or play host to diseases and parasites.
What to pack
You may be travelling to an area where purchasing pet food is relatively easy, but keep in mind that if your regular food is unavailable, switching to a new food can upset their tummies. You need to pack enough food that can last the holiday. Be sure to pack a few toys and a favourite blanket, as well as their bed. Always have their lead/leash and harness on hand along with some treats, especially those that can keep them busy or entertained.
A vitally important thing to keep in mind is exposure to the elements, even with an animal. Pets that have light or white colouring are at risk of sunburn or sun damage. They can get burned on exposed areas, such as their noses and bellies so always pack pet sunscreen. Along with sunscreen, if your dog loves a swim in a river or the ocean, keep ear cleaning solution with you to prevent any infections that may develop.
Travelling with your pet should be a treat for the whole family. It’s important to keep the aforementioned in mind when planning your holiday so you are prepared for any situation.