Planning on taking your dog away with you? After tackling a whole new to-do list, Kate Bendix, author of First Aid for Dogs, discovers it's not such a walk in the park...
Dogs have stuff! And there are practical considerations to put into place before you cram the car full of 'essentials' and head off down the coast, up into the mountains or to the nearest ferry port.
All that's needed is a little forward planning, and maybe the odd gadget (we love a gadget) and you're good to go. Find out what you need to plan before you set off, what to pack and what you need for the journey ahead.
I called a local vets before I left home, asking about lungworm, and they asked if I'd like to register my dog to save time if I needed them. Brilliant! And excellent customer service too. I stored their number in my phone in case I needed it. Sounds a little over the top but I wanted to know where to go if I needed it rather than phone around in a panic if there was an emergency.
Make sure your dog's vaccinations are up to date, especially if you're travelling abroad. Travel offshore means your dog will need a rabies vaccination. Find out more about laws and requirements on this website and more information about lungworm here.
If you haven't already, now is good. It's compulsory from April 2016 anyway. It deters theft and will make it far easier to find each other if you get separated on a busy summer beach.
No matter how big your dog is, but especially for dogs with small necks I highly recommend fitting them with a harness. The best harness I have ever found is Perfect Fit; a three part, adjustable, fleece and webbing harness you put together once by choosing the right size of each piece - girth, chest and shoulders. Clip it together and away you go, one comfortable dog in a made to measure harness. Made in the UK too.
Check your pet policy, is it up to date and what is your cover away from home, especially for accidents. Take their contact number with you and let them know if something has happened. Don't give them the opportunity to wriggle out of a claim because they didn't get all the details in time!
Claims on pet insurance soar in summer - the most common claims are for heatstroke (average treatment cost £315), grass seed injuries from country walks and foreign body removal from ears and paws.
If you're travelling to and from other EU member states or listed countries your dog, cat or ferret will need it's own passport. All the information you need is to be found here. You can get your pet's passport from your vet.
Make sure your current pet passport is up to date and remember that you will need to visit a vet in the country you are staying in before returning to the UK. If you don't get a Third Party Certificate of Health from one your pet will not be allowed back into the UK. There are generally vets who speak English near EU ports which sail or train into the UK should you forget.
My dog has scarpered from a dog walker a couple of times in the past, running across a main road the first time and pitching up outside a lovely lady's door, the second "I only had cat food for her I hope that's OK!" Best phone call I ever received. After that I installed a GPS tracker on her collar from www.tractive.com/en. It keeps tabs on her via a phone app or online, letting her know when she's left the house and when she returns.
The only downside is you need to track them using 3g or 4g if you're out looking using your phone, fine if you're not in the middle of nowhere but it’s far better than nothing at all and very accurate.
So many cafes, attractions and events are dog friendly these days, but it really pays to check before you leave home, especially if you're planning a special meal out at a dog friendly culinary delight as it's bound to get packed out. Reserve your table in advance and avoid disappointment.
This was a real eye-opener for me. My dog is low-maintenance but I still ended up with a large box full of her stuff. Here are a handful of suggestions that you may not have thought of...
One long and another short lead. Most dog-friendly attractions only allow dogs in on a short lead, plus they're a lot lighter to carry around.
Treat yourself to a Dicky Bag to store waste out of sight until you find a bin. They come with a carry clip, deodoriser to stop any smells, spare bag section, and they look great.
My dog loves to roll in revolting things, and I can't imagine yours is any different. Taking your own towels and their normal shampoo means it doesn't matter - well, not much anyway. If they have sensitive skin or a grass or pollen allergy then a good soothing shampoo will do the trick try My Itchy Dog's Coconut and Neem shampoo.
Don't forget any pills and potions your dog needs, especially if it's a daily dose. Getting replacements from a local vet will be expensive and time-consuming.
I got caught out with this one. Nikita threw up a couple of times overnight and I didn't have anything to properly clean it up with. The basics - scrubbing brush, rubber gloves, kitchen roll and cleaner will cover most 'accidents'.
Assuming you're in a car, make the dog its own little nest so it's not anxious or smothered by pillows - and so it can't get at any food you've packed.
It's important for your dog to travel safely and you can get a simple seatbelt for them at all good pet shops which simply clip onto a harness worn around their chest. Whatever you do, don't clip it onto their collar as you could do serious damage just doing an emergency stop.
Remember, in the EU, and that includes the UK pets must be either clipped in or crated in the back to stop them becoming a missile in a crash. If you are caught with a dog loose in your car in Spain for example you're up for a large on the spot fine.
Most first aid kits for humans will contain what you need to help your dog out too. You may want to add a pair of fine pointed tweezers (not eyebrow tweezers) or an O’Tom Tick Twister will be essential for the safe removal of ticks. Saline in case of something getting into an eye or wound and an antiseptic cream, one with neem is perfect will be ideal for any bites they get.
A first aid book for dogs is always handy to have in the glove box. I wrote one the summer before last; it covers what to do for a bleeding dog, resuscitation, sprains, breaks and heatstroke among other things.
Most of this stuff you will already have, some is worth buying, but with a little forward planning you should be set up for a fabulous summer. Bon voyage my doggie friends!
If your dog isn't used to long journeys or gets carsick I would try getting Dorwest's scullcap and valerian tablets or their organic valerian liquid. Both are great for travel sickness and anxiety. Give an hour beforehand and during the trip. The valerian liquid can be added to water or dropped onto a treat.
Because dogs can't cool down so easily and can overheat very quickly I also take a cooling towel with me. I use Easidri coats and towels, and get great feedback from customers about them. I soak the towel, wring it out and either drape it over Nikita or leave it out in the shade for her to lie on.
Kate Bendix's First Aid for Dogs (RRP £2.99) is available on Amazon.