duck tolling retriever standing on a rock by a scenic lake

Taking your dog on holiday: how to staycation with your dog reading-time-icon 4 min read

With uncertainty surrounding foreign travel, when it comes to holiday destinations, most of us are choosing to explore the best that the British Isles has to offer.

Although this might mean that we aren’t guaranteed beaming sunshine, it does make it a lot easier to bring our dogs along with us. Here's everything you need to know to have the perfect staycation with your dog.

Packing for a holiday with your dog

To make sure that you and your pooch get the most out of your vacation, make sure that you’ve got everything your dog needs for the duration of your trip before you set off.  

We’ve put together a helpful checklist of dog travel essentials:  

  • Water and food bowls
  • Poo bags
  • Collar, harness, lead
  • Dog food & any medication they are taking
  • A secure seat restraint (dog car seat, dog seat belt, dog car harness or crate)
  • Your dog’s bed and blankets. Lots of places have strict ‘no dogs on the furniture’ policies. Bringing your dog’s bed will also help them to settle into their new surroundings. 
  • Towels for your dog
  • A few of their favourite toys 
  • A tick twister
  • Plenty of treats 
  • Dog shampoo in case they get muddy
  • Check the weather forecast! If you're taking a coat, why not pack your dog’s? If it’s going to be warm, think about bringing a cool mat or vest. If your dog has white fur or exposed/pink skin, bring along some specialist dog sun cream.   

speckled dog overlooking durdle door

Travelling with your dog 

If your dog isn’t used to travelling in the car, or they’re prone to travel sickness, it’s a good idea to gradually introduce them to car travel in the weeks leading up to your road trip. 

This bedding-in period can help them to become more accustomed to car journeys. It will also give you time to ask your vet any questions you have about travel sickness in dogs. If your dog is anxious about travelling, Vetpro Stress & Anxiety capsules help to calm behaviour in anxious dogs.

When you're driving with a dog in the car, make sure that your dog is safely secured with a dog car seat, dog seat belt, dog car harness or crate. Unsuitable restraints include cardboard boxes, leads (or anything tied around their neck) and holding your dog in your lap.

Transporting your pet without a dog car seat, seat belt, harness or crate can also lead to a fine of up to £2,500!

If you’re travelling a long way, schedule comfort breaks so that your dog can stretch their legs, have a drink and go to the toilet.  

Read More: Driving with dogs: a guide to dog car travel

Get familiar with your surroundings 

After packing, preparing, and travelling, it’s time to get out and explore your surroundings. When you arrive at your destination, walk your dog around the property/campsite on a lead so that they can have a good sniff and take in the new environment. 

This will also give you an opportunity to look for any hazards, such as ponds and rivers, any gaps that your dog could escape through, and sharp objects and ornaments.

Find out where the nearest vet is just in case something goes wrong. You can use our handy Find a Vet tool to see your nearest My Family Vet practice.

couple walking a golden labrador on a hill

Dog friendly activities to do on holiday 

Britain is filled with amazing landscapes, from rolling green hills to sweeping sandy beaches. Here are some of the best places for you and your pooch to explore. 

The beach 

Dogs seem to have a special relationship with the beach. They are few finer sights than watching your four-legged friend striding across the sand and playing in the sea. While the seaside makes for a great place to take our dogs, there are a few things to consider to make sure that they can enjoy the beach safely. 

Avoid heat exhaustion in dogs by taking regular shade breaks and providing plenty of fresh water. Signs of heat stroke in dogs include panting, drooling, dizziness & vomiting.

Don’t let your dog drink salt water. Drinking too much salty seawater can have serious effects on your dog's health. Keep an eye on them to make sure they aren’t drinking the salty stuff. 

Watch out for jellyfish, wasps & sharp objects. Jellyfish & wasp stings can cause real discomfort for dogs and can result in a trip to the vets. Sharp objects such as discarded bottles can be hard to spot on the beach, so take extra care when taking your dog to the beach.

Read More: Beach safety: taking care of your dog at the beach

Ponds, rivers & canals

Lots of dogs love nothing more than a good paddle. Finding a secluded swimming spot can provide dogs with plenty of enrichment and exercise. You could even bring your dog with you as you explore Britain's vast network of canals on a narrowboat trip. Here are a few things to bear in mind if you and your dog fancy a swim. 

Blue-green algae is a thick green scum or brown substance found in water that can cause dogs to suffer liver failure and can be fatal in severe cases. There are lots of different types of blue-green algae so it's best not to take any chances. If the water isn’t nice and clean, steer clear. 

Fast currents. Currents can be deceptive and can be a real danger to your dog. Always check that the water is safe for your dog before you let them swim. 

Difficult exits. It’s easy enough for a dog to jump into the water, but it can be tricky for them to get out. Dogs can panic when they can’t get out of the water, so always check that there is an easily accessible exit.

Read More: Blue-green algae poisoning in dogs

black dog swimming in a river

Fields & footpaths

What’s better than a gentle ramble in the countryside? The UK is home to around 140,000 miles of footpaths, so there’s plenty of places to get out and explore with your dog.

Watch out for livestock. Many footpaths pass through fields of cattle, sheep & horses. Although it’s ok to walk your dog off lead in public wooded areas, fields and footpaths, (provided they are well trained & don’t suffer from behavioural issues) it’s essential that dogs are kept on the lead around livestock. 

Electric fences can give dogs a nasty shock, so be sure to keep them at a safe distance. Dogs can become startled if they are shocked and have been known to bolt. This is always a concern, especially if they are in a new or unfamiliar area. 

Poisonous plants. Watch out for common flowers such as buttercups, daffodils & tulips. These plants are toxic to dogs and can cause severe symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and seizures. Find out which plants are poisonous to dogs in our detailed article

Adders are the only poisonous snakes in the UK and although they rarely bite dogs or humans, adder bites are more common than you might think. Adder bite symptoms include lethargy, vomiting & swelling of the affected area. If you suspect your dog has been bitten by an adder, contact your vet immediately.

Read More: What to do if your dog has an adder bite

Make sure your dog is comfortable

Do your research beforehand to find dog-friendly pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, parks, and beaches. Never leave your dog unattended or tied up outside shops & restaurants.

Make sure the activities you undertake are suitable for your dog. Whereas high-energy breeds, such as Springer Spaniels & Weimaraners, will happily lead the way on a 2-hour hike, low-energy breeds, such as Pugs or Bulldogs, won’t be suited to active outings.  

For example, if you are planning on going on a walking break in the Yorkshire Dales and you own a Chihuahua, they won’t be able to join you on long walks, so it might be better to use a dog sitting or kennel service. 

dog on the lead in a pub

Need more info?

For more information on travelling with your dog or any other aspect of your dog’s health and wellbeing, have a chat with your vet. Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page.

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