HOLIDAY TIME! HAVE YOU PACKED FOR MAX AND LUNA?
The summer holidays are fast approaching and your pet’s vacation plans need as much attention as yours do. While some of us may be fortunate enough to have our pets accompany us on our annual holidays, many will need to make alternative arrangements for their safe-keeping while we’re away. Whether you’ll be traveling with your furkids, or leaving them in the care of a family-member or sitter, Twisted Whiskers has put together some pointers to help make them Happy Holidays for all concerned.
CHILLING AT HOME
The majority of pet parents have no choice but to leave their pets in the care of someone else when they go away, so what are your options, and what do you need to bear in mind?
You may go the traditional route and consider a boarding facility. Good kennels and catteries provide spacious living quarters with both indoor and outdoor access. Air-conditioning is vital to moderate temperature extremes, and fresh air and sensory stimulation are a must. Be sure to enquire about the daily exercise options – most boarding facilities offer either dog-walking or “free time” in a communal space (which is opened up on rotation throughout the day for each pet or family of pets to play and exercise). Provision should be made for individual pets’ dietary requirements and you can expect the kennel or cattery to request your pet’s vaccination and parasite control history. Discuss what will happen if your pet falls ill – the kennel should offer the services of an on-call veterinarian, or you may have the option to specify that your pet be transported to the veterinary clinic of your choice, should the need arise. If your pet has a chronic condition requiring medication and/or monitoring, it would be best to arrange boarding at a facility that caters for this requirement.
Alternatively, you may elect to leave your pets in the comfort of their own home, in the care of a family member or pet-sitter. Discuss in advance how much time you require this person to spend with your animals each day – some pets may be fine with daily or twice daily visits, but most enjoy the company of someone who can offer them love and comfort while their human family is away. A live-in sitter is preferable (ideally recommended by your vet or someone who has used their services and been happy), or a relative/staff member who stays on your property. This person will have access to your home, security codes, etc. so, if they’re unknown to you, you have every right to request references and a copy of their ID document for your own peace of mind. Ensure that the sitter has their own transport and furnish them with your contact details and whereabouts throughout your trip, as well as details of someone in the area who can be contacted in your absence, to help with home or pet emergencies. A list of your preferred maintenance contractors would also be helpful. Most importantly, ensure that your sitter is fully briefed on any pet health concerns and that they have your veterinarian and the nearest 24-hour emergency vet clinic on speed-dial.
OR A FAMILY “VAY-KAY”?
Even if you aren’t in the fortunate position to have a holiday home where your pets can join you each year, it really is worth researching pet-friendly accommodation online, as there are a multitude of holiday options all over SA for people who wish to share the annual break with their pets. Search for area-specific accommodation online, on trip advisor, Facebook and www.petfriendly.co.za
Apart from the obvious considerations like their beds, bowls, food, etc. remember to plan for a safe and comfortable travel experience for the furballs too. Dogs will need to stop every few hours to stretch their legs, have some water and a “piddle break” and cats should be offered this option too – on a well-fitted, safe cat harness, of course! Dogs need to be secured in a size-specific vehicle safety harness, or transported in the back of the vehicle, cordoned off from the driver by a pet safety mesh where they can see you, but cannot be a distraction or jeopardise your handling of the vehicle. Cats require a large, airy carrier that they can move around in easily – include a comfy blanket and some toys to keep them amused, as well as a small litter tray in case of emergencies.
It’s worth investing in a pheromone product that can be sprayed into the carrier before the journey – these are very effective in reducing anxiety in cats. Ask your vet or Twisted Whiskers staff about the natural calming products available for both dogs and cats, that can help make your journey a smooth one.
Avoid feeding your pet a heavy meal before leaving (it will inevitably end up on your car seat…); instead, offer a light snack prior to setting off and save the main meal for when you arrive at your destination. Have some treats handy – these will be your pet ’s “padkos” and will help keep the hunger pangs at bay without inducing car-sickness.
Familiarise yourself with the locations of the closest vets and after-hours clinics to your holiday accommodation and save their numbers for easy access. Travel with your pets’ vaccination passports and, should you plan to cross borders, find out way ahead of time whether you’ll require any other documentation for them. If you plan to fly with your pets, the best bet is to contact a pet travel service to assist you with advice on airline-approved carriers and other specifics.
As with any adventure – be it for you and your pets as they join you on holiday, or for your pet-sitter in dealing with the “carnage” when your puppy discovers the stash of toilet rolls in the bathroom cupboard – planning is the key to a stress-free holiday season for everyone.
Twisted Whiskers stores offer a wide range of travel accessories and our Team is ready with any advice and recommendations you may need to ensure the safety and well-being of your pets over this festive season. Happy Holidays!
Written by Twisted Whiskers