Social & Community News
09 February 2018

More and more we see dogs shifting roles from “watch guard” to “part of the family”, meaning that holidays are now, more than ever, being planned with pets in mind. Great news for dogs around the country, but this does mean that a little more planning and preparation is needed, to ensure your hounds are travel-ready. 

“Generally speaking, dogs enjoy a road trip as much as we do, especially if they’ve been part of the travel fun from a young age,” says Dominique Kuhlmann, general manager of the Pet Food Industry Association of Southern Africa (PFISA). “And for those that are new to the travel game, there are thankfully various ideas that owners can make use of to make their pets more comfortable on the road.”

Dogs thrive on routine, and while your trip will disrupt this, travelling with all the “comforts of home” will assist in adjusting to the new situation. Be sure to pack his favourite blanket, toys and his own feeding dishes. Especially important is your dog’s regular food to avoid any possible digestive disturbances that switching may cause. And although most foods are stocked nationally, it is possible that your more remote destinations may not have what you’re looking for, so be sure to check this ahead of time. 

Seeing the vet before a long journey with your dog(s) is never a bad idea. Certain vaccinations may be required for the destination and the vet should give your dogs the “all clear” for travel. It’s also a good opportunity to discuss sedative options for nervous and restless travellers or car sickness remedies. Travel with your pets’ veterinary certificates and be well-prepared with additional equipment to make the journey and holiday a safe, relaxed and comfortable one, such as:

  • Cooling blankets
  • Seat covers – to protect your car seats
  • Non-spill dishes 
  • Pet car seat
  • Window bumper, which clips onto the window so that your dog can rest its head on the soft padded bumper, instead of directly on the hard window ledge, for those who like to watch where they are going
  • Safety belt attachments – this allows your dog to lie down on the back seat, get to the window for air BUT stops him from lunging onto the front seat
  • Safety sitters – these allow you to buckle your pet in to prevent him from jumping out and disturbing passengers or pedestrians
  • Safety nets

In your planning stages you’ll want to ensure that your destination is pet-friendly. Once there your dog should wear a sturdy collar with an information disc containing your contact details (especially your cell phone number). Microchips are becoming the most popular method of identification, but a tag offers an immediate solution, and owners can often be located before needing to take the pet to the vet to read the microchip. It’s also a good idea to travel with a photo of your pet in case he gets lost. 

On the day of travel, it is recommended to get a walk in before you depart. Only feed a small meal a few hours before you leave to limit the effect of car sickness. 

Be prepared to stop often, to allow your dog to toilet and stretch his legs but secure your pet on a leash before opening any doors. Offer him small amounts of water at regular intervals to prevent dehydration. 

Although your dog may love sticking his head out of the window, it really is not recommended – the risk of injury is high, with debris and insects flying by, cold wind being forced into their lungs and electric window controls easily stepped on.

Finally, be aware of the temperature in the car. Blankets may be needed in cold temperatures and open windows or air conditioners (with vents in reach of your dog) are needed when travelling in very hot weather. Never leave your pet in the car as the car’s internal temperature could rise to fatal levels very quickly.

Press release by Pet Food Industry of Southern Africa (PFISA): 6 February 2018 

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