For most people, the idea of taking your beloved pet pooch or kitty on holiday with you might be a strange one. However, a recent survey from Petplan shows this trend may be more popular than you think.
From the 2014 results, with over 4,000 participants, Petplan found that 80 per cent of respondents said they wouldn't leave home without their pet in tow. This pattern has been rising for the past two years, from 70 per cent in 2012 and 78 per cent last year.
Surprisingly, the survey also found many pet owners (53 per cent) preferred their furry friend as a travelling companion over their human partner. In addition to this, almost 30 per cent of pet owners said they would bring their dog with them to visit a relative or friend. This was true for around 5 per cent of cat owners as well.
The survey was conducted in the United States, but as a nation of animal lovers, many Australians may be considering travelling with their pets as well. In 2013, research from the Animal Health Alliance found that almost 5 million of Australian households had a pet – giving us one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world.
However, while the trend may be enjoying more popularity than before, pet owners need to take special considerations when bringing their dog or cat on holiday.
"If you're thinking of taking a road trip with your pet, making sure you plan ahead is crucial," said Petplan Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Jules Benson.
"By now pet parents know that it's never safe to leave your dog in a parked car, even with the windows cracked. But there are many other important travel safety considerations, as well."
Being a responsible pet owner means ensuring your pet has everything it needs, from love and attention to the right pet health insurance. When you're travelling with your furry friends, there are a few extra precautions you can take.
Tips for travelling by car
Going on a road trip with your pet can be fun, but you need to make sure they are secure throughout the journey – this means a cage for cats, and a harness or crate for dogs. Give them plenty of exercise before going into the car, so they will be more likely to rest during the trip.
Never leave your pet inside a parked car without you, as the vehicle can exacerbate the effects of cold or hot weather. You can help your pet acclimatise to the journey by taking him or her on a series of shorter drives first, slowly extending the length until he or she is comfortable with longer trips.
To keep your pet engaged and happy throughout the trip, make sure they have some of their favourite toys and treats on hand.
Tips for flying with your pets
Air travel is slightly more difficult. If your pet is small enough to fit under your seat and can be brought along in the cabin, this is less stressful for him or her than travelling as cargo.
If you are travelling via airplane, ask your veterinarian for extra advice about the trip. Take your pet for a check up before you depart, and make sure your pet is on track for all his or her vaccinations. You may need to get a current health certificate from your veterinarian as well.
Check ahead with your airline for their rules around crating your pet. Make sure your dog has access to enough water to keep him or her hydrated, but don't let him or her start the journey on a full stomach or bladder. If they have something familiar from home (such as a favourite toy), they are also more likely to be calm throughout the trip.
If you have any concerns about your pet's health and welfare for an upcoming trip, talk to your veterinarian. Having the right health cover can help you cover any medical bills for your furry friend and give you peace of mind – you can compare health insurance policies to find the right one for your pet.