If you are planning your summer holidays and you have a pet, have you considered taking it with you?
Increasing numbers of dog and cat owners are doing just that. But is it a good idea?
Only a couple of weeks ago I was consoling my six-year-old daughter when we left our collie-cross at our (lovely) nearby kennels for a two night stay. I am well aware of the feelings of guilt we feel as we wave our four-legged pals farewell.
So what is the alternative? If you holiday in the UK many holiday homes and resorts allow dogs, although you often have to pay a supplement. Although it is lovely to share these times with our pets, it is likely to involve a lengthy journey and you may not be comfortable leaving your furry pal in unfamiliar surroundings if you want to go out for dinner or activities.
Going abroad is becoming more popular. If you go to an EU-listed country you can travel with your dog, cat or ferret once you have a pet passport and use an authorised carrier and approved route.
To get a pet passport, your vet will give your pet a full health examination. Your pet must be microchipped or have a tattoo so that it can be easily identified, and a rabies vaccine will be administered.
Your pet’s passport will have your details, your pet’s identification details and proof of the rabies vaccination and any other relevant treatments that your pet has received. A rabies booster vaccination will be required to keep the passport valid. Depending on the vaccine this will be every one to three years.
You must wait three weeks after the vaccination before travelling, and dogs need to be given a tapeworm treatment before returning to the UK.
Travelling to other countries (not EU-listed) can be more difficult and it is advisable to ensure that all necessary vaccinations, blood tests and documentation are in place in good time.
I would still put careful consideration into whether you take your pet on holiday. Animals who would struggle in warm temperatures, such as pets with heart conditions, or who are overweight, may not appreciate long journeys. Pets who are travel sick would be compromised and dogs and cats that are very young or old may find the process stressful and unsettling.
There are diseases in foreign countries that we do not routinely see in the UK and it is worth seeking advice from your vet on preventing these.
But as long as we are well-informed and organised, there is no reason why pets cannot be part of our holidays together.
CAT GIBSON, Vet