How to Successfully Staycation with Your Dog

10th July 2023 8 min read

Guest Blog: Anna Webb

Planning on a vacation within the UK? Anna Webb provides expert advice on how to travel safely with your dog. Read on for her top 5 tips in keeping your dog safe, happy and healthy.

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Staycation with Success!

Staycationing is at its highest since 2019, with 65% of Britons’ opting to take their pooch on holiday this year.

With over four million dogs acquired in the past three years, it’s no surprise that ‘dog friendly” is responsible for over 7,000 searches a month for holiday cottages and Airbnb’s.

Apart from cost saving on dog sitters, or boarding kennels, holidaying with your dog is about building memories and maximising the time you spend together.

Successful ‘holidays’ is about preparation, planning, desensitisation and training. Not least appreciating how your dog could react to new experiences in hot temperatures, and why stress can exacerbate heatstroke.

Many dogs three years old or younger haven’t benefitted from enough early and proactive socialisation due to pandemic restrictions, so it’s important to prepare your pooch for staycationing to minimise stress both ways.

Feeling stressed in the car, out on a walk, or in a new environment will heighten your dog’s risk of over-heating as raised cortisol levels increases a dogs’ body temperature and their thirst.

Oftentimes when dogs are getting too hot, they will refuse to drink. This is their instinct kicking in as they associate drinking with peeing, which means they would lose body fluids.

I recommend packing some pre-packaged Paleo Ridge Bone Broth into your cooler bag. Like an isotonic drink, broth is packed with electrolytes and minerals, along with a meaty flavour, which will get your dog drinking and hydrate him more quickly than water alone.

Plan all your travel and excursions around the heat of the day. So early morning or later in the day is ideal. Factor in plenty of comfort breaks and choose services with grassy areas, rather than concrete or tarmac which can burn dogs’ paw pads.

Small dogs tend to run hotter than bigger dogs as they have faster metabolisms. Older dogs, flat-faced breeds, and black-coated pooches will also be at a higher risk of heat stroke.

Be aware that your dog’s body temperature is always two degrees Centigrade hotter than ours, with normal levels between 38.3 – 39.2 degrees Centigrade. When a dog’s temperature hits 40 degrees Centigrade they’re at risk of heatstroke.

This can take effect very quickly. Even in a stationary vehicle, parked in the shade with the windows open, it can be fatal in under 10 minutes.

If your pooch is nervous going to new places, cafés, or pubs, spend time desensitising and counter-conditioning your dog before your holiday, it’s never too late to make improvements, and you can train an old dog new tricks!

I like to make staycations home from home, taking your dog’s bedding, favourite toys, treats and their regular food all help minimise stress by being ‘familiar’.

Depending on where you’re staying or how long you’ll be away, needn’t mean compromising on your dog’s meals.

Most holiday cottages / Airbnb’s / hotels will have freezer space, so if you’re already feeding a raw balanced and complete diet, there’s no excuse to arrange deliveries whilst you're away!

A change of diet and different drinking water can trigger tummy upsets, in both people and dogs, so I will take my own filtered water, and use bottled water only to err on the side of caution.

TOP FIVE TIPS

Training your dog to enjoy car travel:

It’s mandatory to have your dog restrained in the car, either wearing a seat belt or in a pet carrier. Make sure your summertime pet carrier has lots of ventilation, and your pooch is comfortable, can turn around, and is trained for this carrier before you set off.

I recommend opting for cooling vests and cooling mats that work to keep your dog chilled by cooling his underbelly.

Use tasty treats like Paleo Ridge’s Classic Treats, to help train your dog to enjoy his cooling accessories in his travel pet carrier (or in his seat belt) indoors first!

Make the acclimatising sessions very short and always quit on a positive note. These in-car training sessions begin indoors with a familiar noise like the radio or a specific playlist like Skoda’s ‘Happy Hounds’ playlist.

Through association of positive experiences indoors, like being tuned into this specially curated calming playlist, will help your dog relax, and accept his cooling accessories.

When you’re confident your dog is calm in his pet carrier with his cooling ‘kit’, transfer to the car. That’s with the playlist. Gradually extend the time with the engine off and the engine on. Keep journeys short and varied. At the first sign of any stress, including panting or drooling: stop! And repeat tomorrow.

Stay cool:

Planning your travelling and excursions around your dog with activities either earlier or later in the day avoiding the midday sun!

Before setting off check that your air-conditioning is reaching the backseat. If not, or if your dog travels in the boot, securely attach some portable fans to encourage air circulation and cooling. Always keep the window open in the car for some fresh air to circulate.

Note small dogs tend to run hotter as they have faster metabolisms than larger dogs. Older dogs, flat-faced breeds, and black-coated pooches will also be at a higher risk of heat stroke.

Oftentimes when dogs are getting too hot, they will refuse to drink. This is their instinct kicking in as they associate drinking with peeing, which means they would lose body fluids. I recommend packing some pre-packaged Paleo Ridge Bone Broth into your cooler bag. Like an isotonic drink, the broth is packed with electrolytes and minerals, along with a meaty flavour, which will get your dog drinking and hydrate him more quickly than water alone.

New Places:

If your dog shows anxiety or stress in new environments take the time to acclimatise him with mindful desensitization and counter-conditioning armed with plenty of tasty treats from Paleo Ridge new delicious treat range before you go on holiday. Practice your basic training in advance too, especially the recall! If you know you’ll be visiting some beaches, please take your dog to a beach in advance, so any surprises or stresses can be worked through before your staycation. Similarly, if you’re going camping be sure to have acclimatized your pooch to the tent before you go away.

NEVER leave your dog in a stationary car!

Be aware that a dog’s body temperature is always two degrees C hotter than ours, with normal levels between 38.3 – 39.2 degrees C. Small dogs tend to run hotter as they have faster metabolisms than larger dogs. So, when you’re feeling hot in the car, your dog is feeling even hotter as they are covered in a fur coat, only being able to ’sweat ‘ and cool down from their tongues and their paw pads.

When a dog’s temperature hits 40 degrees C they’re at risk of heatstroke. This can take effect very quickly and can be fatal. NEVER leave your dog in a stationary car, even with the windows open, even in the shade, as the car turns into a greenhouse. When it's 22 degrees C outside in a stationary vehicle, without air conditioning, temperatures ‘in a car’ can reach 47 degrees C. in less than 10 minutes.

First aid kit:

Be prepared and take a basic first aid kit with you to help with insect bites and stings. Also, practice making a bandage in the event of a cut or a grazed paw pad. Research a local vet practice where you’ll be staying just in case of an emergency situation.

Anna Webb is a Canine Nutrition and Behaviour expert. Anna combines her psychology degree, with study at the College of Integrated Veterinary Therapies (CIVT) and over 20 years experience. Host of the award-nominated A DOG’S LIFE podcast, she lives in London, and is owned by Prudence, a Miniature Bull Terrier and Mr Binks, a re-homed English Toy Terrier.

www.annawebb.co.uk

Further Reading

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