Holidaying with pets

Many of us regard our beloved animal companions as family members, and while some of them will accompany us on our holidays, others will stay behind to eagerly await our return.

Whether your furry friends join you on holiday or remain at home, it is important to consider the following, so that your pets are happy and comfortable during holidays.

Contact information

Before you head off on holidays, ensure that your pets’ microchip and council registration details are up-to-date whether your pets are with you or not.

Leaving your pets with friends or family

Caring for pets is a big responsibility! Help your friends or family who are looking after your pets by providing enough details of any special requirements your pets may need. This could include special diet, exercise, medical or behavioural needs.

If your pets are accustomed to sleeping inside and having daily walks, choose someone who will see that they receive the same routine in your absence. It is also a good idea to leave the contact information for your pet’s veterinarian, as well as the details of a local animal hospital or emergency clinic with your pet’s minders.

Mobile ‘pet-sitting’ services

It is also now possible to arrange for someone to care for certain types of animals within the safety and comfort of your own home. Mobile pet-sitting services can arrange for someone to visit and feed your birds, fish, rabbits and other pets on a daily basis. These pet-sitters offer services such as feeding, walking and can even perform some cleaning of cages or bowls in your absence.

To help mobile pet-sitting services attend to all your pet’s needs, remember to provide them with all the relevant information, medication, treats, toys, specialty foods and emergency contact details that they may require to look after your pets.

If you are planning to use a pet-sitting service, be comfortable in requesting references as any reputable business will be happy to provide them.

Whilst pet sitting services may be suitable for some animals, please keep in mind that animals such as cats or dogs are social animals and they require affection, attention and care.

Catteries and boarding kennels

These professional facilities are run by animal carers whose sole focus is caring for your animal companions. As such, their staff will have a great deal of experience in all areas of animal handling and care. In order for you to use these services your pets will generally need to be vaccinated and up to date with any medications. Many boarding facilities will not accept animals that do not meet these requirements. To arrange vaccinations for your pets, please contact the RSPCA veterinary team.

When you are arranging your holiday, research a number of facilities in your area and compare them. If possible, inspect the premises before you commit to leaving your animals there. Any premises that will not allow an inspection may have something to hide.

Give yourself plenty of time to find the facility that is right for you, and book ahead. The better facilities can fill up very quickly during busy periods, and you do not want to miss out on a place for your best friend. These dedicated animal care facilities will ensure that your pets are properly cared for at all times. They also provide valuable affection and human contact, as well as the chance to socialise your pets’ with other animals.

Taking your animals with you

If your pets will be travelling with you, consider the following to ensure that you all arrive safely and happily at your destination.

Before heading off

  • Ensure that your animal is wearing identification tags and that your contact details on their microchip and council registration are up to date.
  • Pack a first aid kit for your animal.
  • Be sure that any accommodation you have booked is ‘pet friendly’. It will be too late to fix this problem once you have hit the road.
  • Take your pet for a full veterinary check-up. While you are their ask them if your destination has any pest or health concerns that you should be aware of for your pets.

On the road

  • Animals should be contained throughout your journey. A cat can be kept in a carrier, and a dog in a dog crate or on a harness.
  • Take regular breaks and allow your pets to exercise, eat, drink, and relieve themselves.
  • Ensure your pets have plenty of fresh cool air.
  • Never allow your pets to ride in the driver’s lap or the front passenger seat. This is extremely dangerous and can cause car accidents.

When you arrive:

  • Ensure that in the excitement of your new destination that you do not neglect or ignore your pet while you are away. They may feel anxious being a new place, and might require a little more attention than usual.
  • Consider using Thundershirts as a way to help your pet with anxiety.
  • Spend some time reassuring your pet that everything will be fine in your new surrounds. Play a game, or simply give them a little affection.
  • Be sure that your pets are secured, and supervised at all times.
  • Check that all fences and gates are secure at your holiday destination.
  • Do not leave your pets alone in a strange environment, or with unfamiliar people.


If your pet is frightened by loud noises, make your pet’s carer aware of this. During thunderstorms and over holiday periods such as New Year’s Eve and Australia Day, there may be a great deal of noise, including fireworks, which can seriously scare your pet.

By following these guidelines, you will find that your holiday can be an enjoyable time for all the members of your family!

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