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Summer’s finally here, and to celebrate, we’re bringing you a blog full of tips on taking holidays in the UK with dogs – from dog-friendly accommodation to happy travels with a dog in the car. So, whether you’re planning long weekends or full-on family adventures, you can book, pack and prep for dog-friendly getaways they’ll enjoy just as much as you do.
Finding dog-friendly accommodation
The best dog-friendly holidays – in the UK or further away – start with good preparation, and that means booking accommodation that works for all of you, including your furry family members.
Some hotels, holiday parks and cottages go out of their way to make dogs welcome, but others are strict about not allowing them in. Double check you’re booking dog-friendly accommodation by looking for pet policies on the company’s website – and if you’re not sure, don’t risk it. It’s always better to ring and check than risk being turned away or landed with unexpected charges.
Even if your accommodation is dog friendly, it’s still important to make sure you’ll have all the facilities you (and your four-legged friend) need, like easy access, space for them to sleep and somewhere for them to exercise. And if you’re taking frozen dog food, check there’s a freezer where you can store it safely.
Packing for dog-friendly getaways
Compared to humans, dogs travel pretty light, but there are still a few essentials you’ll need for a happy, relaxed holiday. Top of our list for dog-friendly getaways is always a collapsible water bowl – and a bottle to fill it up. If the weather’s warm, cool mats for your car or accommodation are a good way to keep your dog comfortable, and a few toys and blankets from home will help them feel at ease. Try to bring a good supply of their usual food. Ideally this should be enough for the whole trip, but if you’re away for a while and you think you’ll need to use an alternative, try to mix a little of their usual food with something available locally, making the switch gradually over a few days. For holidays in the UK with dogs, this shouldn’t be a problem.
If you use raw dog food, make sure you can transport and store it at a safe temperature. If you know you’ll have a freezer when you arrive, it’s easy to book a Natures Menu delivery so your dog’s dinners arrive safely frozen. If there’s no freezer, our cans and pouches make a great on-the-go alternative for your dog-friendly getaway.
Pre-holiday health checks
Making a surprise visit to a far-away vet isn’t top of anyone’s holiday wish list, so before any dog-friendly getaways, it’s a good idea to take your dog for a quick health check. Your vet can make sure they’re microchipped, up to date with injections and any specifics for your destination, such as parasites that might be encountered, have been considered. It’s a good chance to talk through any worries and get advice on what to watch out for while you’re away.
While most dogs love a road trip, some get car sick, just like us. If your dog’s one of the unlucky ones, your vet should be able to prescribe them anti-travel-sickness medicine to make everyone’s holiday more comfortable.
Travelling with a dog in your car
If your dog doesn’t often go in the car, it’s a good idea to get them used to it before a long journey. Try a few short trips with walks or treats when they arrive so they develop positive associations.
When you travel with a dog in your car, it’s important for everyone’s safety that they can’t move around freely. You don’t want them distracting or bumping into the driver. A crate is a great solution, and a good place to put toys and chews so they don’t get bored, and there’s also specially designed seatbelts for all sizes of dog that you can try. Dogs overheat easily (more on that in a moment) so use sunshades on your car windows to help them stay cool.
We all know dogs love popping their heads out of car windows (so much to smell!) but try not to let them. Leaves, grit and insects travelling at high speed can all lead to sore eyes, noses and ears.
It’s a good idea to avoid feeding your dog just before you set off, and to give them a good walk so they can go to the toilet. A walk can also tire them out, making travelling with a dog in your car a little calmer. On long trips, plan to stop every couple of hours so your dog (and your family!) can stretch their legs and go to the loo. Put your dog’s lead on before opening the car door so they can’t run into traffic.
Keeping your dog happy and hydrated
It’s always important to make sure your dog drinks enough, but when the weather’s warm and you’re away from home, it needs a little more thinking about, especially if they’re very active. Wherever you go, make sure you take water and a collapsible bowl – regularly washing the bowl to get rid of germs.
It’s also a good idea to know the signs of dehydration in dogs. Check their gums – in a healthy dog they’ll be wet and slippery, but in a dehydrated dog they’ll be dull or sticky. You can also try pinching the skin at the back of their neck, stretching it out and letting go. If they’re well hydrated it’ll shrink back quickly, if they’re dehydrated it’ll take longer.
How to keep dogs cool in hot weather
While you might wear your shorts and T-shirt on a sunny day, your dog will be wearing their coat all summer long. It’s just one reason why dogs are much more likely to overheat than people, and why you need to keep a close eye on them on your summer holiday to make sure they keep cool in hot weather.
Wondering how to keep dogs cool in hot weather and prevent heatstroke? Keep them well hydrated and out of direct sunlight, making sure you don’t leave them in hot, enclosed spaces like a parked car. Offer them drinks regularly and, if it’s particularly warm, use cool mats too.
Symptoms of heatstroke in dogs include heavy panting, excessive drooling, dark red gums, being lethargic and being sick. If you suspect that’s happening, move them to a cool, shady space quickly and call the vet. In the meantime, let them drink small amounts of water regularly and wrap them in a cool, wet towel.
Why routines matter, wherever you are
A happy dog-friendly getaway means being consistent with your dog’s routine. Big changes can stress them out, lead to a loss of appetite and make everyone’s holiday less relaxing, so try to give them meals and walks at the same time as usual.
When you get to your holiday accommodation, set up feeding and sleeping areas your dog can use throughout your stay, adding toys, blankets and bowls from home so they feel comfortable. Ideally, it should be a space that allows your dog to keep cool in hot weather.
Exploring new places
A dog-friendly getaway also includes lovely holiday walks and the chance to explore somewhere new, but make sure you keep an eye out for unexpected dangers. There might be plants that could make them unwell – like wisteria or tulip bulbs – and if you’re letting them off their lead you might not be familiar with other risks nearby.
It’s a good idea to keep some pocket-friendly treats to hand, like our Real Meaty Treats with Beef or our Real Meaty Puppy Treats with Chicken to lure your dog away from plant chewing and any potential problems.
Taking your dog abroad?
Travelling with their four-legged family often means a dog-friendly staycation here in the UK. But if you’re heading further afield, you don’t have to leave your dog behind. For the latest advice on taking your dog abroad, including when they need a dog passport (and how to get a dog passport) head over to this helpful page on gov.uk.
To sum it all up…
Holidays in the UK with dogs are a great chance to get away as a family and make memories. But before you go, do some research, book some dog-friendly accommodation, pack for your pup and make sure you know how to keep them safe in the sun. It’ll help make their holiday (and yours) be as amazing as it should be.