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How to plan for your pets if going away over the holidays

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  • RSPCA Australia
  • Tuesday, 22 December 2020

As we publish this, there is significant uncertainty across Australia about the holiday season and people’s travel plans. We understand that for many Australians, going away over the holidays may not be an option this year – but for anyone who is, here are some tips to ensure your pets are looked after.

Planning ahead is key

Take some time to consider whether you will take your pets on holiday with you or not. This will depend on where you are going, the type of pet you have, how far you are travelling, and how you intend to get there. Especially this year, whether you’re taking your pet with you or not, have a contingency plan for if you are unable to get back in time due to border closures, quarantine requirements, flight cancellations, or other reasons.

Make sure your pet is microchipped and that their details are up to date, whether they are coming on the trip or not. Even if you’re not travelling, it’s very important to ensure your pet dog or cat is microchipped because if they become lost, you’re far more likely to be reunited if they are microchipped. It’s also a good idea for your pet to have external ID like an ID tag with up-to-date information – this means that people can call you immediately rather than taking the animal to be scanned. 

If you’re taking your pet with you

If you do choose to take your pet with you, make sure you bring plenty of supplies – including extras in case you get stuck somewhere. For your dog, you should pack food, treats, bedding or a travel crate, food and water bowls (including bottles of fresh water in case you can’t find a tap), a collar or harness and lead, their favourite toys, grooming equipment (including a towel if they get wet), a ‘pooper scooper’ and plastic bags to clean up, and any required medication.

Check for emergency vets in the areas you are going in case of emergency, and make sure you have your pet’s vet records if they have any health conditions.

Take extra care if travelling during the heat. Never leave your dog unattended in a car – dogs die very quickly from heat stress, even in mild weather.

If you’re leaving your pet at home

If your pets are staying at home, it’s best to have someone stay with them in their familiar environment. Make sure you leave plenty of supplies – again, including extra in case you can’t return home as planned. Ensure that cool areas are available and there are plenty of water sources – including extra in case one gets knocked over. The person who is looking after your pet should have your pet’s vet records and have the contact details of their vet.

It’s not usually feasible to take your cat on holiday with you. So if you have a cat and are going away ideally have some stay with them at home (for example, by a trusted friend or relative or a professional pet sitter) but if this is not possible and you are only going away for a short period, you can have a trusted neighbour or friend or a professional pet sitter visit your house at least twice a day to feed them, change litter trays, and provide company and enrichment. You can also book your cat into a boarding facility, but this may not be appropriate if they become stressed by other animals and/or environments. If taking your cat to stay with a family member or friend, make sure that your cat is confined indoors and their health and wellbeing should be closely monitored, as cats can become stressed by changes in their environment and this can sometimes make them unwell or exacerbate existing problems.

Remember to drive safely, whether you have your pet or not, and watch out for wildlife on the roads. If you find injured wildlife, you can find the details of who to contact in your state or territory here. If you are able to travel, taking a few precautions to ensure your pet is looked after will mean that all of us can have a safe and happy holiday season. 

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