Your holiday should be an enjoyable experience for you, your family and your dog. After months of lockdown, we are all looking forward to getting out and about. With plenty of fresh air and, whilst flights to some warmer countries still uncertain, many of us will be holidaying in the UK this year.
People are understandably concerned about safety, for themselves and others. Although they may be unsure about any risks associated with pets themselves, they will be keen to ensure that they and their dogs can relax and play together, without any additional stress.
This short article tells you how you can all have fun together, safely.
With so much scientific information in the media, it is understandable that people can get confused. Rest assured, there is no discernible risk that you can pass Covid-19 to your dog or contract the disease from your dog.
We all love to cuddle our dogs, and a holiday is a great time to pay more attention to our family pets. However, when you and your family are away from home, you will come in contact with people and dogs that you don't know and it is still advisable that you should avoid direct contact with other people's dogs.
We still need to adhere to the social distancing of 1 metre, that we are already familiar with, but dogs don't understand that. This means that, when we are around other people, we should keep our dogs under tight control. Many people find it easier to use a short lead, rather than an extending one in public places.
To give our dogs space, in as safe a manner as we can, it is best to avoid crowded parks and busy paths. If it's within reach, the open countryside allows us a better chance to exercise our dogs away from other people as much as possible. In the summer there will still be young animals grazing in the countryside, so please follow the country code and keep your dog under control at all times.
Beaches are always busy areas, and many local authorities have strict rules about where and when you can exercise your dog on beaches in their area. To avoid problems, it is always advisable to check first, before you set off. It may be that you will have to walk your dog in the early morning or late at night on some beaches, but that can add real enjoyment to the holiday.
Dogs like routine as it gives structure to their lives. During lockdown, many of our dogs will have become used to quite a different routine. As we all gradually get back to work, some of that new routine will continue with many more people working from home at least some of the time.
However, the different environment of a holiday can be a great way to introduce a new, regular routine for when you get back home. For the most part, your dog will be happy just to be with you. Don't forget that, in a dog's world, the routines of feeding and toileting are rather more important than they may be for us in an exciting new location.
Staycation almost invariably means spending some time in the car. Please don't forget that, while you are enjoying lunch in a great, new restaurant, your dog will need to be locked in the car, with all the risk that this entails. Dogs really do die in hot cars, even though a British summer may not often compete with the Mediterranean. In the UK, temperatures in locked cars, even with windows open, can very quickly rise to dangerous levels. Always park in the shade, leave plenty of ventilation and fresh water and come back to check on your dog frequently.
Part of the excitement of a holiday can be the wide variety of new people and places but remember that, in holiday areas, the residents will be concerned about large numbers of people coming into their area. This may lead to some not being as forthcoming or welcoming as they normally would. Of course, this applies to dogs too and, not letting your dog interact with other dogs or children, will be appreciated by many local people. Wherever possible, try to avoid the local parks in a new place, as this is where residents will normally walk their dogs.
Make sure you take a full supply of any medication that your dog needs with you. Many veterinary practices are still getting back to normal. Except in an emergency, they may not find it easy to arrange to see a visitor's dog, when there is already a backlog of their normal patients' work to be done.
If your dog needs a specialist diet, or one that isn't always readily available, make sure that you take everything you need with you. The fat content of dried dog food will quickly go rancid, if kept warm, so it is advisable to store it in a cool place, away from the car, when you arrive.
No-one wants to think about such an occurrence but, easing of lockdown doesn't mean that the Covid-19 virus has disappeared. In the event of you becoming ill while you are away, make sure that you write down the contact details of your local vet, any medical history, medications, dosages and the routines that your dog might need. This will allow another person to deal with all your dog's needs, if you become ill. You should also carry the contact details of another person who could take charge of your dog, in that eventuality.
We really don't need to put face masks on our dogs, as this is both ineffectual and distressing for the dog but, in public places, we will continue to have to wear face masks ourselves. Don't forget that reading faces is a key part of the way in which dogs interact with humans and that some dogs can find it intimidating when a person's face is covered by a face mask.
Just the act of being away can be relaxing but it's even more important to practise good hygiene while on holiday. We are frequently reminded that we need to wash our hands regularly, especially after being around and handling animals, their food and equipment. It may be hard to remember, while away on holiday, but we should avoid touching hard surfaces, especially in unfamiliar places. Wherever possible, discourage children from kissing, or sharing food with, your dog.
The owners of your holiday accommodation may appreciate your leaving your shoes outside in a dry, safe place. This will avoid bringing particles from outside into the house during this period and will minimise their concerns about proper cleaning between letting periods.
Here's a short check list to help make your holiday away relaxing and enjoyable:
1. Wash any dog bedding before and after your holiday
2. Make sure that any preventative care treatment i.e. flea, worm, ticks etc. are up to date before leaving.
3. Ensure that all vaccinations are up to date before leaving. Getting boosters while you are away may not be easy/possible.
4. Check that your microchip details are correct so that, if you lose your dog, you can be safely reunited later.
5. Take all medication and specialist foodstuffs with you, together with a written contact list with instructions for feeding, medication etc.
6. You may not be able to leave your dog alone in a hotel or holiday cottage. Do not leave your dog locked in the car or, if absolutely unavoidable, take every precaution to minimise the risk of overheating. Make sure you have plenty of fresh water available, wherever you are.
7. Take a short lead to maximise control and a lot of treats as a reward for good behaviour!
8. Avoid crowded areas where social distancing is already difficult; with a dog on a lead, social distancing is more difficult to maintain.
9. Follow the countryside code and keep away from farm animals.
10. If you're walking through long grass, don't forget to check your dog and yourselves, every day, for ticks which are particularly prevalent this year.
If you would like more information on any of the services that Leading the Way Pet Care provides, please contact us via email or phone us on 0800 027 9846.