We consider our fur kids to be part of the family, so why go on holiday without them? Many South Africans have started planning holidays that include their fur kids, and this, in turn, means travelling – often long distances – with them. Unfortunately, unlike Europe, South Africa is not as geared to pet travel, but the situation is changing as more pet parents search for travel options that can accommodate their fur kids.
A successful holiday with your fur kids require planning and preparation.
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 fur kids in a pet carrier reduces their risk of injury in the event of an accident. If your dog does not have a carrier then buy one and introduce your fur kids to this enclosed space in a safe and non-stressful manner. If you have never used a carrier, we suggest speaking to a dog behaviourist prior to embarking on your journey for advice. If you own an SUV or Estate-style vehicle, consider installing the pet divider available from the manufacturer.
- NEVER let your pets roam freely in the vehicle.
- NEVER fully open your car window. Pets are always tempted to stick their heads out, and that’s a big no-no, as they could become seriously injured.
- NEVER let your pets ride in your lap, stand on the console between seats, as all these actions could be distracting to the driver, and dangerous to the passengers.
Like some pet parents, a lot of movement can wreak havoc with the balance system of a dog, bringing on motion sickness. If you fur kid is not accustomed to travelling long distances in a car, it may be advisable to gradually ease your kid(s) into it by taking him/her for a daily drive, which gradually becomes longer. Placing your fur kids in a carrier that can be securely fastened will also reduce the possibility of motion sickness.
Two weeks preceding the vacation, a general check up is recommended. Any health concerns can be discussed, as well as the need for any travel documentation or permits. If you are travelling across southern African borders then a State Veterinary Certificate and certain vaccinations are required.
Do you need medication for motion sickness? Is your fur kid using chronic medication? If so, do you have sufficient treatments 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 in the event that you require veterinary services when on holiday?
Many things can happen which may result in your fur kids getting 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 kids that are presented to them. This can prevent great heartache in the event of a runaway dog.
It is recommended that small amounts be offered every three hours, when stopping to rest. Do not feed your fur kids in a moving vehicle. Be certain that you have enough food to take with you, or that you will be able to purchase their favourite food at your destination (see our independent directory). This is particularly important for fur kids with sensitive stomachs. You do not want your holiday spoiled by frequent visits to the local vet when it could have been avoided. Consider taking water from home or to use bottled water. All water is not equal.
Take your fur kids for some exercise before departure. Tired dogs will be inclined to sleep during the journey.
Take breaks frequently when on the road. A stop at least every two hours is recommended. Ensure you have a harness/collar and lead in the car in order to restrain your fur kids when leaving your vehicle. Dogs may sometimes be frightened and run into traffic. Having a means of control will prevent this.