Travelling with your dog can be a joy, especially when you reach your destination. Being able to travel with any pet is a necessity though, for visits to the vets or groomers, and taking them to a pet sitter or boarding facility.
Are you wondering how to travel safely, or how to stop travel sickness in dogs, cats, and other pets? To support National Pet Month, which promotes responsible pet ownership, our nurse Sarah has some helpful travel advice just in time for the summer holiday season.
Ensuring an incident-free journey
Pet travel sickness and safety go hand in hand – making sure your pets feel safe in the car can help to reduce their anxiety and sickness. Motion sickness is more commonly seen in puppies and other young pets because their ear structures used for balance aren’t fully developed yet. Stress can also lead to travel sickness, which can affect all pets so if you only ever drive your pets to the vets to be poked and prodded (we offer other services too), anxiety may lead to nausea and vomiting.
Practising safe car travel will not only help to keep your pets safe, it will also help to keep you out of trouble with the law – letting your pets be a distraction whilst driving is a fineable offence. Sarah has listed some important pet travel safety advice to help you below, and you can download our handy Pet Travel Sickness Guide too.
Cat & dog travel sickness symptoms and small furry stress
Pet owners should be aware of cat and dog travel sickness symptoms: inactivity (mostly dogs), yawning, whining/meowing, excessive drooling, vomiting, and smacking or licking lips. Stress in small furry pets presents in many ways including a reluctance to move, not eating or toileting, hiding, and aggression.
Travel safety tips for pets
- Never let your pet travel in the front passenger seat as they could be seriously injured if the airbag releases.
- Secure dogs on your back seat with a seatbelt and harness, or in a dog crate on the back seat or in the boot. If using a seatbelt, never clip it to your dog’s collar, and consider using a dog travel seat that keeps your dog contained and stops them from slipping into the footwell.
- Secure cats & small pets in a secure cat or small pet carrier either on the back seat (with a seat belt if possible) or in a foot well. A small pet carrier must have air holes, and it is advisable to add a deep bed of hay plus a shelter to hide in. Put some cucumber (or moist veggies) in with hamsters and guinea pigs so they have a water source on the journey.
- Lie crates and carriers as flat as possible and put comfortable bedding in them.
- Make sure nothing can fall on your pet or cause them harm i.e. avoid piling up suitcases, bags, tools, or other items next to them and keep food out of their reach.
- Reduce stress and avoid fighting by never putting pets in the same crate or carrier – pet fights whilst driving can be very dangerous for your pets, you, and other drivers. Plus, if you have an accident, your pets may bang into each other and cause further injury.
- In warm weather, use sunshades on your windows, try to avoid travelling at the hottest times of the day and long journeys, and never leave your pet in a parked car.
- Always take water and a bowl with you on car journeys and take regular breaks to check your pet is ok – avoid using cooling coats as these can dry out and trap the heat in.
- Reduce other distractions in the car such as music, so you can focus on driving first and foremost, and can hear anything concerning that you need to park up and address.
- Take extra care with your speed, as bumps and sudden stops will encourage you pet to be thrown around inside the car.
Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about the dreaded travel sickness – you can get our tips for reducing this here in our handy guide:
In celebration of Easter and all the yummy treats that come with it, our team have pulled together a list of the most common Easter pet poisons to beware of. March is actually Pet Poison Prevention Month, so we hope this list will help you keep your faithful companions safe this Easter!
In the event of an emergency, call Garston Vets on 01373 452225.
Common Easter Pet Poisons
It is easy for pets to be tempted by treats, food, and drinks at this time of year – many of which will do them harm. Here are some of the main offenders below – be sure to share this list with your pet-loving friends on Facebook or Instagram.
1. Easter chocolate
How much chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats depends on a wide variety of factors. Chocolate contains the chemical theobromine, which is the poisonous ingredient, and should never be given to pets. Depending on the size of your pet and the amount of chocolate eaten, the effects can vary from vomiting and diarrhoea to seizures. Keep chocolate Easter eggs and Easter cakes where your pets cannot get to them. If you are doing an Easter egg hunt, it is best to keep your pets away from the area until you are 100% certain all of the eggs and treats have been removed. If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, call us on 01373 452225 straight away.
2. Raisins & currants
These are commonly found in hot cross buns and scones and along with most other dried fruit are extremely toxic to pets. While many pet owners understand the danger chocolate can pose, hot cross buns are another springtime treat that can be potentially harmful to animals. Raisins, sultanas and currants are all toxic to pets, causing vomiting, diarrhoea and, in some cases, kidney failure. Keep these foods out of reach and avoid putting leftovers out for birds as they could end up on the ground where you pets could eat them.
These striking yellow flowers are synonymous with Easter so it is important to know that daffodils are toxic to cats and dogs when ingested, especially the bulbs. Our nurse Gemma suggests removing or relocating daffodil bulbs to somewhere your pets cannot access them if they enjoy eating everything in the garden.
Easter lilies, tiger lilies, and many other plants from this family are extremely dangerous for pets, especially cats. Pets can be poisoned by ingesting any part of the plant, drinking water from the vase, and even getting pollen on their fur. Poisoning from lilies can be life-threatening so it is wise to avoid them if you have pets. If your pet has a lily emergency, call us quickly on the number above.
5. Garden hazards
Like many pet owners, you are probably planning to do some gardening this Easter weekend. Make sure that herbicides, pesticides, and fertilisers are kept well out of your pets’ reach. Our small animal partner John recommends shopping around for pet-safe options. If you are cutting the lawn this Easter, make sure your pets do not eat the fresh grass cuttings as they can make them very unwell.
This list is not exhaustive so the general rule of thumb when it comes to Easter pet poisons is to keep harmful substances, human foods, and poisonous plants well out of reach. If you suspect your pet has eaten or come into contact with anything suspect, it is important not to wait for symptoms to show.
On 29th November 2021, new housing measures were brought in to protect poultry and captive birds across Wiltshire and Somerset and the rest of the UK from avian influenza. The new housing measures made it a legal requirement for all owners to keep their birds indoors. The requirements will be updated from time to time, so if you want the latest check out the relevant pages from DEFRA on GOV.UK
Lack of essential enrichment
For free-range birds, especially those who are used to time outdoors, suddenly finding themselves limited to indoor spaces can deprive them of normal outlets for their social and emotional needs.
To help combat this, the team at Garston Veterinary Group in Wiltshire and Somerset thought it would be useful to highlight a few basic enrichment techniques you can use. Especially if any of your birds have started to exhibit behaviours that indicate they are suffering. These behaviours include:
- Feather picking
- Aggression or bullying
- Egg eating
Enrichment can prevent these behaviours by mimicking the birds’ natural environment.
The advantages of enrichment
Multiple studies suggest that enrichment for housed birds like chickens can result in improved reproductive performance, healthier, and more productive animals. Keeping birds healthy means you not only fulfil your moral obligations, but if you are a commercial operator, you could also be helping your bottom line and fully complying with relevant welfare regulations.
Types of bird enrichment
Enrichment comes in several forms under headings that include:
Chickens are social animals so it’s important they can interact with other chickens. If this isn’t possible, then you should take steps to mimic the presence of other birds.
This is about creating a housing environment your birds can interact with by adding structures, ramps, bales, or perches. Also, it’s helpful to provide substrates for digging and dust bathing.
Chickens are natural foragers so you can usefully create challenge and interest in the way they get their food. Adding food to piles of (safe) leaves or hanging heads of cabbage from the coop ceiling will make them work harder to feed. This all mimics their normal outdoor environment.
We’re not sure that giving them a TV is on the cards but hanging old CDs around their living space or adding mirrors from time to time may add interest. Removing these elements and then replacing them prevents your flock from becoming bored.
Olfactory, auditory, and tactile enrichment
This helps stimulate all their senses, as would be the case if they were outside. Adding smells like vanilla or naturally occurring plants (again only safe ones), playing gentle music, and adding footballs, and even swings (to mimic swinging branches) are all techniques you might like to drop into their living space.
The novelty bonus
The fact is that if a person or animal is moved from their normal, random outside existence to a more routine (boring) life of incarceration, then the stress of a newly imposed confinement can be eased by adding novel elements. Don’t just throw a few hay bales into the shed and leave it at that though.
Rotate enrichment techniques and experiment to see what your birds like. Any costs associated with these practices are likely to be paid back and then some. This is because you’re left with happier, more fulfilled, and more productive birds thanks to your provision of the physical and mental stimulation they need.