Christmas can be a stressful time for everyone and having to make arrangements for your pets if you’re going away, can be a nightmare. We’ll give you some tips and advice on how to make travelling with your pet at Christmas easier and what other options are available if you choose to leave your pet at home.

Going visiting? Ask permission and take a crate!

If you are visiting friends or family and staying for any length of time, it’s always wise to find out first whether your dog will be welcome. Ask if there will be any other dogs or cats there and also whether there will be any small children. Only take your dog if you know you can keep them safe in someone else’s house. It’s a really good idea to take a collapsible crate with you that your dog is used to sleeping in. This will ensure that they have somewhere secure to go if necessary and you can relax and enjoy the fun without worrying.

On the journey

  • Fit a dog guard or use a harness: Regardless of the length of your journey, your dog will need to be restrained so you can keep your eyes on the road. If you have a hatchback car, fit a dog guard. You can buy and simply fit your own version quite cheaply from most car shops. Alternatively you can have your dog on a seat as long as they have a seat belt/ harness on. This is the law - dogs that are loose in the car can distract the driver and cause serious accidents.
  • Cats in baskets: Generally speaking, cats are not the best travellers and the best journeys for cats are short ones. If travelling with your cat, make sure they are in a secure basket/ carrier. Use a pheromone spray on the interior and put a favourite piece of comfy familiar bedding in the carrier. Some cats prefer their carriers to be covered with a blanket so they are in the dark. For further advice on travelling with your cat >
  • Medication: If your dog or cat is a particularly anxious traveller, you may be tempted to give them something to calm them down. There are many different types of calming medications on the market. Our advice would be to ask your vet first, rather than just buying something off the shelf. If your dog suffers from motion sickness, there are prescription medications that can really help. You will need to have a consultation with your vet for this.

Options available if you can't take your pet with you

Although it is lovely for us to have our pets with us at Christmas, it’s sometimes just not practical. In this case you do need to consider what arrangements you are going to make well ahead of time. Don’t worry; your pet will not hold it against you!

  • Kennels: Many kennels get very booked up in the holiday season, and some actually close over the festive period. Make sure you know their bank holiday opening times, so you don’t get caught out. Some kennels specialise in rabbits and guinea pigs, so make sure you don’t forget your small furries. There are people who take dogs into their own homes, which can be a good option for some dogs who have never been into kennels and prefer a more homely environment.
  • Neighbours: Leaving your pets to be looked after by a kind neighbour is a great option. Often people enjoy having a dog for a few days but don’t want the responsibility of owning one full time. Cats much prefer to be looked after in their own environment. Make sure your cat either has access to your home via a cat flap, or an alternative secure dry place such as a garage or utility room. Microchip cat flaps and timed feed dispensers use innovative technology to keep out unwanted visitors.
  • Pet sitters: Finally, you could always opt for a pet sitter to come and live in your house whilst you are away. This gives you the added bonus of not leaving your property empty whilst you are absent. It can be quite a cost effective alternative to kennels if you have several pets and especially those that need extra care such as rabbits and guinea pigs, hamsters and other caged pets.

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