With staycations on the rise thanks to travel restrictions, a huge positive is being able to holiday with our four-legged friends.

No more pining for our pooch while lazing by the pool or forking out a fortune for kennels or dog-sitters.

But while our pets might be tail-waggingly delighted to be heading off on holiday adventures it is important to think of all the pet pitfalls that travel can bring and make sure safety is paramount.

Pet food experts Nature’s Variety have put together some top tips for protecting your pooch and making sure your holiday is a walk in the park.

Make sure you're travelling safe with your dog
Make sure you're travelling safe with your dog

Safe Travels: Road trips are exciting and fun but they can be full of potential hazards for your pet. To make sure their journey is as safe and comfortable as possible, keep your dog suitably restrained in the car. Don’t let them hang their head out of the window as this can result in foreign objects such as leaves, rocks and insects causing inflammation and damage to eyes, nose and ears. Also, fit sunshades, keep them hydrated and take regular stops for a bit of exercise whenever it is safe to do so.

On-the-go: When packing the essentials for your holiday, don’t forget to also make a checklist for your pooch. To help your pet feel at ease while on holiday and travelling, they’ll need a comfortable place to sleep, their favourite toy and, most importantly, a travel bowl for fresh water. This is particularly important for any new pups who may not be used to leaving the comfort of home during lockdown. Plenty of treats or a meal that’s convenient to feed on the go would also be most welcome by your furry friend, especially if there are any delays en route.

Do Your Homework: Assuming all holiday parks and hotels have dog-friendly facilities is an easy mistake to make, however this isn’t always the case. Before you head off on your summer staycation, make sure you read up on your chosen accommodation’s pet policy to avoid disappointment.

Poisonous Plants: Even though you’re on holiday, your dog still needs to stick to their normal routine of going on a daily walk. While out and about in the new area, make sure you keep an eye out for poisonous plants that are surprisingly harmful to dogs, including wisteria and tulip bulbs. Keep a handful of treats on hand to lure your dog away from chewing on any plants on your route.

Seaside Dangers: Please don’t just assume your dog can swim or will love the water. Never force a dog to go into the sea - let them explore safely in their own time on a lead to start with. Some breeds are naturally strong swimmers, but other breeds, such as corgis and pugs, are not. Also be mindful that dogs can ingest sand by accident through digging or repeatedly picking up sandy balls and toys and if they swallow enough, it can cause a blockage in the intestine, called sand impaction. Signs of this serious condition, which requires urgent veterinary treatment, include vomiting, dehydration and abdominal pain.

Be careful of dangers by the sea
Be careful of dangers by the sea

Overexertion: It might be your pup’s first holiday experience, so it could either be quite a stressful experience for them, or just very exciting. If your dog is overexerted, and/or exposed to the sun, it could lead to heat stroke – so it is a good idea to take it slowly and be mindful of how much they are doing.

Sun Protection: While we might want to make the most of the rare British sunshine to top up our tan, we need to ensure dogs aren’t in the sun for long periods of time. If you don’t have a parasol for protection, try to pick a shaded spot so your four legged friend has somewhere to avoid the heat.

Clean Up Your Pawprints: Before you head out of the door for your staycation, remember to stock up on poop bags, allowing you to clean up after your dog wherever you are.

New smells, sights, feels - it's an excting world for your pup. Make sure they don't overdo it.
New smells, sights, feels - it's an excting world for your pup. Make sure they don't overdo it.

Fit to Travel: Make sure you complete a quick health check for your dog before traveling, ensuring that they’re up to date with all injections and wormed, as well as protected from attracting fleas and ticks. If you do have any reservations surrounding taking your dog on holiday, seek professional advice from your vet before departure.

Vet Contact: Sometimes things go wrong, so you will need to know the number or address of a local vet. Make sure you have it written down, in case you can’t access the internet. Your dog might become unwell or injure themselves, so you need to know that you can get help quickly, should you need it.

Melanie Sainsbury, Veterinary Education Manager for Nature’s Variety, who make ground-breaking Freeze Dried dog food, ideal for if you’re travelling said: “Dogs are very much a part of the family and with 83% of new puppy owners saying they’re worried about leaving their dog home alone after lockdown*, there will be more people than ever before with a furry companion on their summer holiday!

“We want to make sure that our four-legged friends remain safe and have as much fun as their pet parents, and so we hope our staycation tips will put owners’ minds at ease.”