Here's how to have a stress-free holiday if you have pets

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Going away on holiday with your pets doesn't need to be stressful if you plan it properly. (Photo: Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Going away on holiday with your pets doesn't need to be stressful if you plan it properly. (Photo: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

So it’s December, and you’re going away on a family holiday for two weeks, but what about your pets? If you can’t take your beloved pooch or moggy with you, how do you keep them safe and happy while you’re away?

There are plenty of ways to go about this, bearing in mind the type of pet you have. A dog, for example, will generally need far more care than a cat. Let’s take a look.

1 Getting a pet-sitter

The best option for your animal is to get a pet-sitter – someone who’ll live in your home and look after your pet in their usual environment.

While it may be a cheaper option, putting your animal in a kennel is really not ideal. It’s highly stressful for the animal and can lead to behavioural problems such as depression and eating problems. There’s also the risk your pet may pick up a disease.

To get a pet-sitter, it’s best to go through a reputable pet-sitter agency – there are many online or you could ask around. But make sure they are vetted and reliable.The cost can range from R150 to R300 a day depending on whether the sitter is also required to walk your dogs, give it medication, etc.

Of course, the added bonus of a pet-sitter is extra security for your house. An empty house is often a target for criminals.

(Photo: Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Getting your pet micro-chipped makes for peace of mind in case they go missing. (Photo: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Getting someone to come in and feed your dogs is fine for a day or two but it’s not ideal for longer periods. A dog needs exercise and to see other people and dogs otherwise it can become depressed or destructive.

Dogs, like humans, need mental and physical stimulation.Being left alone for long periods can also lead to prolonged bouts of barking which can upset the neighbours.

Pet hotels are another option but cost more, with prices ranging from R250 a night for shared accommodation to R380 a night for a private room.


Update your pet’s ID Before you leave, make sure your pet is either micro-chipped or wearing a collar with contact details on it.

Leave something of yours behind If your pet is staying in an unfamiliar place like a kennel, leave a blanket or item of clothing of yours with them. Your scent will provide comfort.

Keep the routine Leave a detailed set of instructions and a written routine of your pet’s day for the pet-sitter.

Leave an emergency medical kit It’s worth your while to leave a medical aid box for your pet as well as the numbers of your vet and nearest animal hospital should an emergency arise.

2 Choosing a pet-friendly destination

Many holiday homes and resorts accept pets. Make sure you find out beforehand whether there are any requirements or limitations. For example, your dog might be expected to stay in a certain area during the day or there could be dog restrictions on beaches.Always be considerate of neighbours and fellow holiday-makers when taking your pet on holiday and clean up after it at all times. Leaving dog poop anywhere is a total no-no!


Stop often for toilet breaks and fresh water and to let your pet have a sniff and run around.

Keep your dog on a leash at all times. The last thing you want is your dog running onto the highway and getting run over.

Always be aware of the temperature especially if travelling in the hot summer months.

NEVER leave your pet in a hot car, not even for five minutes. A dog or cat can overheat very quickly.

Keep your dog’s bed or blanket or favourite toy with them to ease travel stress and to help them settle in once you reach your destination. 

Keep your dog or cat in a well-ventilated contained space or pet carrier in the car which offers enough space for them to move around in

Sources: The South African Veterinary Association (Sava), vivin

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