What’s On Blog

Staycation with success!

21st June
Staycationing is at its highest since 2019, with 65% of Britons’ opting to take their pooch on holiday this year.

With over four million dogs acquired in the past four years, it’s no surprise that ‘dog-friendly’ is responsible for over 7,000 searches a month for holiday cottages and Airbnb’s.

Apart from cost saving on dog sitters, or boarding kennels, holidaying with your dog is about building memories and maximising the time you spend together. Successful ‘holidays’ are about preparation, planning, desensitisation and training. Not least appreciating how your dog could react to new experiences in hot temperatures, and why stress can promote dehydration and heatstroke.

Preparation for a Successful Dog-Friendly Staycation

Many dogs four years old or younger haven’t benefitted from enough early and proactive socialisation due to pandemic restrictions, so it’s important to prepare your pooch for staycationing to minimise stress both ways. Understanding that your dog doesn’t know that they’re going on a ‘holiday’ is important. You don’t know what your dog is thinking, and being conscious of the impact of stressful situations on your pooch that you take for granted. By practicing all your training in advance of your departure will re-ignite the bond with your dog, and help you and your dog navigate new experiences more confidently. A trained dog is a happy dog and makes for happier families in the knowledge you have a set of skills to tap into. This means focusing your pooch and guiding them to appreciate the new sights, sounds and smells of your destination.

If your pooch is nervous going to new places, cafés, and pubs, spend time desensitising and counter-conditioning your dog before your holiday, it’s never too late to make improvements, and you can train an old dog new tricks! I like to make staycations home from home, taking your dog’s bedding, favourite toys, treats, chews and their regular food all help minimise stress by being ‘familiar’.

Any experience in a new environment will heighten your dog’s stress levels, and in summer there’s always a risk of overheating (even on a cloudy day) as anxiety creates raised cortisol levels, which increase a dog’s body temperature and their thirst.

Managing Stress and Heat on Your Staycation

Oftentimes when dogs are getting too hot, they will refuse to drink. This is their instinct kicking in as they associate drinking with peeing, which means they would lose body fluids.  To prevent any risk of this happening, always take fresh water with you and I pack bone broth in a cooler bag. Like an isotonic drink, bone broth is packed with electrolytes and minerals, along with its meaty flavour and smell, which will get your dog drinking and hydrate him more quickly than water alone.

Plan all your travel and excursions around the heat of the day. So early morning or later in the day is ideal. Factor in plenty of comfort breaks and choose services with grassy areas, rather than concrete or tarmac which can burn dogs’ paw pads. Small dogs tend to run hotter than bigger dogs as they have faster metabolisms. Older dogs, flat-faced breeds, and black-coated pooches will also be at a higher risk of heat stroke.

Be aware that your dog’s body temperature is always two degrees Centigrade hotter than ours, with normal levels between 38.3 – 39.2 degrees Centigrade. When a dog’s temperature hits 40 degrees Centigrade they’re at risk of heatstroke and death. This can take effect very quickly. Even in a stationary vehicle, parked in the shade with the windows open, it can be fatal in under 10 minutes.

Taking Care of Your Dog’s Needs

Depending on where you’re staying or how long you’ll be away, needn’t mean compromising on your dog’s meals. A change of diet and different drinking water can trigger tummy upsets, in both people and dogs, so I will take my own filtered water, and I advise using bottled water only to err on the side of caution.

Be prepared and take a basic first aid kit with you to help with insect bites and stings. Also, practice making a bandage in the event of a cut or a grazed paw pad. Research a local vet practice where you’ll be staying just in case of an emergency situation.

About the Author – Anna Webb

As a Canine Nutrition and Behaviour expert, Anna combines her psychology degree, with study at the College of Integrated Veterinary Therapies (CIVT) and over 20 years of experience. Host of the award-nominated A DOG’S LIFE podcast, she lives in London and is owned by Prudence, a Miniature Bull Terrier and Mr. Binks, a re-homed English Toy Terrier. www.annawebb.co.uk 

View basket ()