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Pets and holidays

Everyone likes a holiday, but pet owners face a big dilemma of what to do with their pets when it's time to take a well-earned break, as there are a number of options to consider.

Boarding kennels

Traditional boarding kennels and catteries are top of the list for many pet owners and animals usually settle in to such new surroundings very easily, being more adaptable than we give them credit for.

However, not all pets settle in easily - particularly older pets who are used to their home comforts and daily routines.

To help, innovative boarding kennels are installing home comforts, such as armchairs and TVs to make them more homely, whilst exercise and games are often provided to keep the pet interested and fit during their stay.

The best course of action is to choose your kennel or cattery carefully:

  • Make enquiries, pay a visit, look round the facilities on offer.
  • Seek recommendations from other pet owners or ask for references.
  • Are the pens clean, dry and draught-free?
  • Are the living quarters heated in any way?
  • Do the animals receive exercise during their stay?
  • Are pets given their regular food of choice?

Out and about

It's important to understand how pets behave, not just to us, but with each other.

Natural instincts dictate that two un-neutered male dogs are likely to be aggressive with each other, and this counts for cats, rabbits and most other species. Male dogs often fight, especially if they don't know each other. There are usually fewer problems with females.

Take your pet with you

The UK's Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) means that it's now possible to take your dog or cat abroad with you. However, there's a lot to organise beforehand, which can take up to seven months, including:

  • Microchips - a microchip must be implanted under the skin of the neck to provide a permanent and unique identity number.
  • Vaccinations - your pet must have a vaccination against rabies, with an approved vaccine.
  • Blood tests - a blood test must be taken about a month after the vaccination to ensure that your pet responded to the vaccine.
  • UK policy - your pet can't enter the UK from abroad until six months after a successful blood test has been taken.
  • Paperwork - a PETS certificate is required.
  • Import requirements - check the import requirements of your destination with the relevant embassy or the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in the UK.
  • Treatments - treatments against ticks and tapeworms are necessary, with approved products, 24 - 48 hours before re-entering the UK. A certificate of treatment is required to confirm this, signed by a vet.
  • Signatures - as the owner, you will need to sign a declaration to state that your pet has not been outside any of the qualifying countries in the six months before entering the UK.

For long journeys, be aware that some pets are poor passengers and suffer from travel sickness. There are medicines available to combat this, including calming sedatives, which may be purchased direct from a pet shop or from your vet.

Pet sitters

In recent years pet sitters or 'home sitters' have become very popular. These are people who come and stay in your own house to care for your pets. They not only look after your pets, but also keep a visible presence in your home to dissuade potential thieves. Rates for pet sitters compared to the better kennels and catteries can be very competitive.

To find a reputable pet sitter:

  • Ask other pet owners for personal recommendations.
  • Ask your vet if they have a list of suitable carers.
  • Look in specialist cat and dog magazines and newspapers for advertisements.
  • Check listings and ads in local telephone directories or newspapers and on the internet.
  • Contact trade organisations, like the National Association of Petsitters.

Pet-friendly hotels

Many pet owners prefer to take their pets on holiday with them and there are an increasingly large number of 'pet-friendly' hotels and guesthouses, as well as self-catering holiday homes where pets are welcomed. Facilities and rates vary, so make enquiries beforehand.

Small pets

Even if you don't own a cat or a dog, you need to make arrangements for the care of smaller pets while you are on holiday.

Most fish will only need feeding once a day, so it would be acceptable for a friend to drop by to feed them and check they are in good health. You can also buy 'vacation food blocks' for fish that can be placed in their tank or pond and gradually release food over a period of days.

Other small pets, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, rats, hamsters and gerbils will need attention every day. All will need fresh food and water daily, along with exercise.

Expert advice available 24/7

vetfone™ is a 24/7 helpline that provides expert advice from nurses qualified with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. If your pet has a medical emergency, or you need reassurance on grooming, feeding or general advice, vetfone™ is there to help. vetfone™ is provided at no additional cost with all Tesco Bank Pet Insurance policies.

You can call the vetfone™ freephone* number on 0800 197 4949. *Standard network charges apply. Mobiles may be higher. Please check with your operator.

Important information


Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc.

Vetfone™ is provided by Vetsdirect Ltd.

Conditions that apply to your policy:

  • You and your pet(s) live in the UK, Isle of Man or Channel Islands.