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Going on Holiday with your Dog

Taking your dog on holiday as part of the family is great fun and I do recommend trying it, especially if your plans have changed this year and you are taking a staycation. 

We try to take Ripley on holiday every year and seeing her running on a beach, jumping on our paddle board, and snoozing on a sheepskin rug after a day's adventuring fills my heart with love. Last year we managed to escape to a remote part of the Isle of Skye, Scotland and it was perfect for a reactive dog like Ripley. I am writing a separate blog post on some of the holiday locations we have taken Ripley to, and if you are interested, you can find more photos and videos from our holiday this year to Skye on our Instagram.

Below are some things you need to consider before taking your pet on a family holiday and I have put together a list of items to pack for your pooch. Your holiday needs to be stress-free and relaxing for all the family, and a little time researching and planning makes all the difference.

Things to consider when booking a dog-friendly holiday:

Accommodation - Although some hotel chains and some fabulous independent hotels allow dogs you are most likely going to be staying in self-catering accommodation. Most holiday websites allow you to filter for accommodation that allows pets. There is usually a small extra fee to pay to cover the additional cleaning required. If you have more than one dog you may need to check the small print as some accommodation has a limit on the number of dogs you can bring. Also, some accommodation may state things like 'One small, well-behaved dog allowed'. If you are unsure if your dog qualifies as small it is usually best to be upfront and ask the owner. Breeds are rarely discriminated against in property listings but if any breeds are listed I would choose not to stay with the company and spend my money elsewhere!

Beaches - Unfortunately dogs are banned from certain beaches all year round, or sometimes just during the busier months, so always do your research before going to the beach with your dog to avoid disappointment. You may need to keep your dog on a lead or your dog may only be allowed on a certain section of the beach. Be responsible and abide by the rules, and make sure the only thing you leave behind is paw prints in the sand.
White bull terrier walking on decking in the Isle of Skye with a cloudy sky.
Travel - Most importantly make sure your dog can travel safely and securely in the car. If your dog doesn't travel well you may need to rethink your plans, cleaning up the back of your car isn't the best way to start your holiday! You may want to start with smaller journeys until your pup is comfortable. You must plan in regular breaks for your dog where they can have a toilet break and stretch their legs. An easy opinion is the farm shop style services as they usually have small grassy areas to walk dogs.

What to pack for your pooch:

  • Water - Take as much as you can carry and keep a spare bottle or two in the car. This can be invaluable if you get stuck in traffic or to help rinse off muddy paws.
  • Dog food - If your dog eats dry food this isn't too tricky - but if they are on raw food you will need to pack it in a cool bag while you are travelling. As Ripley eats mostly cooked meat we usually pack her food and allow it to defrost in a cool bag ready to cook at the accommodation.
  • Tupperware so your dog can eat al fresco - This is one thing we have forgotten in the past, try to remember to bring something you can transport a meal in if you are out walking. We also pack a banana each!
  •  Treats - It is a holiday for your dog too so spoil them! We stock a range of tasty and healthy treats. Check them out here.
  • Poo bags - Bring a whole roll of biodegradable poo bags and put them in every pocket! We use Adios Plastic compostable and biodegradable poop bags as individuals rolls or multipacks.
  • Spare leads, collars/harnesses/muzzles - It is good to be prepared for any situation and to be able to keep your dog under control. We have had a situation where a harness has rubbed where it never has before, or if we find an empty beach I like to put Ripley on her lunge lead so can have lots of freedom and play safely in the surf.
  • Dog bed - The accommodation may provide a dog bed but the familiar smells of home can help your pooch settle quicker into their new surroundings. We also place Ripley's bed in the car to make the journey more comfortable.
  • Blankets and towels - If you are out adventuring in the UK the weather may not always be perfect so be prepared for muddy and wet dogs! Also if your dog is like Ripley and likes to join you on the sofa if it wise to cover any furniture in your holiday home with a blanket to prevent any accidents!
  • Chews - It's always a good idea to pack a chew as they are hopefully more attractive than a table leg. Olive wood chews or antlers are a great low-mess option. 
  • Toys - Although we never leave Ripley unattended she usually chooses to sleep downstairs and being with her favourite toys gives me some peace of mind. Floating toys are always a great idea if you are taking a trip to the beach. Take a look at our range of eco friendly toys!
White bull terrier on a sheepskin rug with a tin of skin soother
  •  Paw soother - Keep your dog's paws in top condition, if they are in and out of the water and exfoliating their paws on the beach it is important to keep their paws supple and healthy. We stock a range of skin care products by The Natural Dog Company and Bag and Boop that we have tried and tested. 
  • Medication - Yes, this of vital importance to some pooches. It is also sensible to locate the closest vets to your accommodation in case of an emergency, and have their number to hand in case you don't have wi-fi. When we can we take spare pain relief prescribed for Ripley for her interdigital cysts in case they flare up, or as the case one year, when she had swimmers tail.
  • Tick remover - Not nice to think about but important for both you and your dog! Check your dog after each walk especially if they have been in the long grass near livestock or where deers are known to live. Check all over your dog, in my experience especially near the armpits and chest. We also save each tick we find by sellotaping it to a piece of cardboard labelled with the date and location. This way if your dog gets sick you can hand the tick over to the vet to see if it is the cause of the illness. This is a good trick if you are bitten too - but hand it to your doctor, not a vet!
  •  Suncream - Again super important for all the family. If you are planning to be out and about, you should apply suncream to protect your pooch. Ripley is very pink so needs suncream on her ears, nose and belly frequently!
  • Life vest - If you are taking your dog with you in the water it is advisable to invest in a doggy life vest. Even if your dog is a great swimmer they all can get tired and most come with a handle on the back to pull them out of the water if needed. Ripley has a pink camouflage one and it's unbelievably adorable!

We hope you find this guide useful and we wish you a happy holiday!