Although many people book their pets into kennels and catteries before a holiday, there are occasions when owners take their four-legged friends along with them. A caravan holiday is one of the most common methods of holidaying with pets, and it can also be one of the easiest.
This isn’t rare for dog owners, with dogs being the most popular pets brought to caravan parks, as mentioned here, and cats second. However, some people have even brought rabbits, guinea pigs, indoor birds, and fish on holiday before. For the purpose of this article, information on holidaying with dogs and cats will be the focus.
The same two-part guide, as shown below, applies whether you holiday in a touring caravan or a static caravan.
Table of Contents
What to Prepare Before Caravanning With Dogs or Cats
For some, knowing how to prepare for a caravan holiday with pets is just common sense, but this isn’t the case for everyone. If this is your first time caravanning with your dog or cat, or maybe you haven’t been in a touring caravan before, then this will all be new to you.
A caravanning holiday should be an enjoyable time for all, and it will be if you follow the considerations listed below.
Choose a Pet-Friendly Caravan Park
Booking a caravan park that accepts pets is critical to a holiday with your furry friend. To plan ahead, you are encouraged to research the pet-friendly caravanning sites in your chosen area of the UK. Some sites will charge an additional fee per pet, but there will often be extra facilities for animals, especially dogs; for example, dog-friendly caravan sites usually have enclosed grassy areas specifically for dog walking.
Caravan parks that accept pets will also have your fellow campers in mind. This might mean the caravan pitches are spaced further apart to ensure adequate room for pets or certain rules for the safety of residents, such as keeping dogs on leads or disposing of waste in a specified bin.
Check Your Pet’s Vaccination History
Visiting the vet before heading off on holiday with a pet is a great idea. This allows owners to check their pets’ health and well-being before the trip.
Pet owners should also ensure their animals are up-to-date with flea, tick, and worming treatments, especially during summer. There are certain areas around the UK where ticks are more prevalent, such as the Scottish Highlands and the Lake District, so be aware of this if you visit those locations.
It would also be wise to research a local vet in the area you will be travelling to, just in case your pet requires medical care during the holiday.
Ensure Microchip Details are Updated
Cat and dog owners should ensure the contact details listed on their pets’ microchips and ID tags are updated before travelling. If the animal is lost or runs away during the holiday, this is often the best chance of being reunited with a missing pet.
Since leaving the European Union, UK pet passports are no longer valid when traveling to Europe. Instead, caravan holidays abroad will require additional documents, such as an animal health certificate, and pet owners should also be aware of insurance considerations.
Pack the Essentials
Even if you plan on shopping when you pitch the caravan, packing the essentials is more than having enough food for the duration of your holiday. As the pet will likely be travelling in a car and housed in a caravan, there will be items required in both. For the car, pet owners should take into account the length of the journey.
A longer journey will require bathroom breaks, which will also allow the animal to drink water and stretch its legs. Therefore, a water bowl will be required, as will a lead. Some service stations have dog walking areas, so you might want to map out your trip to stop at them. A first aid kit should also be kept in the car, and this should include items like cotton wool, surgical tape, and a tick removal tool.
You can keep another first aid kit in the caravan or motorhome if you want to. Read this post for more on what to include in a pet’s first aid kit.
Other items to pack when heading off on holiday with your pet include:
- Cat or dog food
- Your pet’s favourite toys
- Dog poo bags or cat litter and litter tray
Research the Country Code
If you are visiting the countryside, specific rules must be followed to keep people and animals safe; these rules are outlined in the Countryside Code for England and Wales and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code in Scotland.
Dogs can act more excitable when visiting a different environment because of all the new scents, sights, and sounds. Even dogs with the best recall can become distracted and ignore their owners, so keeping your dog on short lead around farm animals and wildlife, such as deer, is vital. Farmers do not take kindly to dogs worrying their livestock; if a farmer believes their livestock is in immediate danger, they might shoot the dog.
Despite adventurous pooches and their owners wanting to explore, the rules must be respected to keep everyone safe. This includes keeping dogs off certain beaches, cleaning up after dogs, etc.
Plan Your Journey
As briefly mentioned in a previous point, planning your trip is useful, especially if the pets will be in the car for long periods. It can be a stressful experience for many pets; dogs might be lying in the car boot for the journey, or cats might be kept in carry cases. Both of these situations can make the animals uncomfortable, but this can be avoided if the journey is planned correctly.
All animals must be suitably restrained when travelling to prevent distractions to the driver. Seatbelt harnesses, crates, carry cases, and car seats can all be used to do this. As this means there is less space available for the animals to move around, long journeys will need to be split up by regular breaks. This will allow the dog or cat to relieve itself, have a drink, and walk around outside. It also provides the owners an opportunity to do the same.
What to Do During a Pet-Friendly Caravan Holiday
Caravanning with dogs and cats can be tough, but it is rewarding if you can do it right. After setting up on the caravan site, a few more aspects must be considered to ensure your pet is safe in a new setting.
Here’s what you can do during cat or dog-friendly caravan holidays:
Offer Enough Ventilation
The inside of caravans can warm up quickly, which can be dangerous for dogs. It is important to ensure there is enough ventilation in your caravan or motorhome to allow fresh air in, which can help keep the caravan cool.
Adequate airflow can also help dissipate unpleasant smells, like wet dog or cat litter. Although air fresheners can cover these odours, keeping a clean caravan or motorhome should be the priority. Not only will this rid the space of muddy paws, but it will also ensure vents are cleared of dust and pet hair, which aids ventilation.
Travel With Care
Day trips away from the caravan will likely require short journeys, which must be done safely, too. You might choose to drive your own vehicle, but public transport is also an option. If this is the case, keep dogs on a short lead and ensure cats are securely fastened in a carrier.
You should bring some items with you on these trips, like a water bowl and a toy.
Be Wary of the Heat
It is widely understood that pets are at risk of hot weather, and pet owners should take steps to keep their furry friends cool. There are products available to buy, like a cooling mat or vest and frozen treats, that can keep body temperatures lower in hot conditions, but people can also follow these top tips:
- Provide pets with shaded areas and fresh water.
- Exercise pets in the morning and evening.
- Use pet-safe sun cream on pets’ exposed skin.
- Lay out damp towels for pets to lie on.
- Never leave pets unattended in hot cars, caravans, or motorhomes.
Older dogs, cats, and specific breeds require extra care when the weather is warmer.
Remember Your Neighbours
When on holiday, it can be easy to forget about other people around you, like your caravan neighbours. It is important to be mindful of how your pet could affect other people’s experiences in caravan parks and try to lessen any unpleasantness. For example, if your dog barks and howls when it is left alone, try to avoid leaving the dog unattended.
Other ways to minimise the trouble your family pet might bring to other caravaners include keeping the animal on your pitch, disposing of any waste correctly, and following the site rules.
To Sum Up
Caravanning with dogs and cats can provide an opportunity for quality time between owners and pets. It is certainly easier than travelling abroad with your dog or cat, but preparing before your holiday begins is just as important, even if you stay in the UK. Before even hitching the caravan to the car, there are several aspects to consider, such as finding a pet-friendly caravan park, packing the necessary items, and reading up on the Countryside Code.
This level of preparedness doesn’t end when you arrive on site, either. In a new environment, it is up to the owner to keep the pet safe and sound, ensuring it doesn’t overheat, stays safe during travels, and doesn’t become a nuisance to other people on the site. If you can manage all that, then a caravan holiday with your pooch or feline will likely be a success.
However, if caravan holidays with your four-legged friend aren’t the right choice, research your area’s boarding kennels and catteries.