Yes, finally we made it, we had a well-deserved holiday with our 14 year old Indy!!! And, it goes without saying, we had a fantastic time. Now, I can appreciate many of you owners of an older dog may worry about putting your senior canine friend through the pace and exertions of going on a vacation and breaking with their daily routine. And that’s why I have decided to share with you my #5 top tips for travelling with an older dog. Please forgive me if I also take this opportunity to share a ‘few’ of Indy’s pictures during our holiday – I am a proud Border Terrier owner after all!!
Why Wait So Long
The last vacation we had with Indy was, I think, in 2015, when Indy was approximately 11 years of age. The vacation prior to that was in 2012, when Indy was 7.
So what’s kept us so long before having another holiday with Indy? At the end of the day, he is a family member and it’s only but natural that he should share in the family most enjoyable moments, isn’t it?
Well, admittedly we had quite atypical circumstances that struck us as a family, and which prevented us as a family from having holidays and from travelling for a few days for many years. But, once we got settled again and were able to take holidays, what kept us was Indy’s health condition and his age related needs.
At the risk of boring you, I have to remind that Indy had a nasty back injury at the beginning of 2016 – for which he was lucky not to require any drastic medical intervention, other than full rest for 8 weeks. However, surgery was required both at the end of 2016 (yes, that was definitely not a good year for our Indy, nor for us) and at the end of 2017, when Indy had to have his anal grands removed due to melanoma cancer.
Given these premises, our mental process was one and one only: we wanted to protect Indy, and prevent anything else from happening to Indy again, which could affect his conditions.
We noticed that, as Indy got older, he was getting more and more settled in his daily routine – to this day, I keep saying our house does not need clocks and watches, as we have Indy to remind us when it’s time to get up, to have breakfast, play, snoozes, lunch, quiet time, snoozes, snack time, walks, dinner, quiet time, teeth brushing time, toilet time and bed time. That’s Indy’s daily routine, and I am sure the owners of senior dogs will relate to the strictness of this routine, where there is very little time for flexibility.
But in considering taking Indy away, we were not only concerned about messing around with his routine. We kept questioning whether it may be too hot or too cold, depending on which part of the year we considered taking a break for. We worried about imposing longer walks on Indy. And we worried that Indy may need medical intervention for potentially recurring symptoms of his cancer when we were away from home.
In so thinking, what we realised eventually is that we were treating Indy as if he were still ill, when in fact Indy was – and thankfully still is – only an older dog.
A New Lease Of Life
Think of older members of your family, your parents or grandparents for instance. OK, they may be older, but you would not deny them the right to have a good time going away for a few days just because they are older, would you?!?!
Surely they would have to make sure their medical and health related needs are met whilst they are away, but they can still have a good time, even if they have heart problems or mobility issues, right?!
Well, I am afraid I have to admit that we deprived Indy of this very right solely for the fact that he was getting older.
What we did not realise is that, when our Indy is out of his familiar home environment, he actually finds a new lease of life!!!
Now, unfortunately I do have experience of this, but the boost of energy gets when he goes out and about with us, I think is the same as when you introduce a younger dog in a household with an older dog already part of the family. That older dog will find a new lease of life when prompted by the younger dog to frolic around more and to go back to his or her bygone puppy ways.
What we saw when we went away with Indy a couple of weeks ago, was that Indy was discovering new smells, new environments to explore, new food, new dogs and new people – all factors which dogs find stimulating, when exposed to them but not abandoned to them.
Still confusing? Let me get more to the point then. Find out my #5 top tips to make holidays for your older dog fun and excitement rather than shock and trauma.
My #5 Top Tips For Travelling With An Older Dog
At any age of your dog, the last thing you want to do is ‘throw’ your dog in new circumstances, rather than introducing him or her gently. But this becomes even more so important when your dog gets older.
Whilst your dog acquires experience and sturdiness with age, (s)he will still be sensitive to sudden and unexpected changes.
With this in mind, let me give you my top tips to ensure when travelling with your older dog, both you and him or her can have a wonderful time.
#1. Pace Your Journey
Your dog will need toilet breaks and stretching his or her legs as much as you do. Plan your car journey accordingly, to include break at service areas that will welcome dogs or which will have outdoor facilities suitable for dogs too.
To ensure a safe car journey for your dog, follow this link:
As far as I am concerned, whilst not allowing dogs indoors, most service areas will have extensive grassed areas where your dog can stretch his or her legs, and they will offer plenty of water for our four legged friend to drink – very important especially when travelling during hot weather.
The important thing is to plan your journey to account for your dog’s needs too.
#2. Find Dog Friendly Accommodation And Places Of Interest
It’s all very easy to say you want to go to that fantastic beach, as it’s sandy and the kids will have so much fun there. What you want to avoid is finding out at the last minute that the fantastic beach does not allow dogs. Where does that leave you then? The kids will want to go to the beach every day, and Fido will end up having to be left in a hotel room or any other holiday resort accommodation on his or her own, in a totally strange environment and with no air con.
This is the perfect scenario that YOU DO WANT TO AVOID!!!
Planning ahead is key once again. You want to make sure that whichever type of accommodation you choose, it does welcome dogs. If there are areas where your dog is not allowed – in our case it was the breakfast area – then make sure that you do not leave your dog alone, but take turns for a family member in turns stays with your dog at all times. When we were away, my husband and I would never go to breakfast together, but we took turns so that whilst one was in the breakfast room, the other was with the dog in our hotel room and vice versa.
Likewise, plan your trips and activities with your dog in mind. I do hear when you say it’s not always easy to keep everybody happy: children, adults and the dog. But where humans can choose and be reasonable, your dog cannot choose where access is denied to him or her. Taking your dog on holiday to then leave him or her on their own does not make sense, nor is it fair.
#3. Work Your Vacation Around Your Dog’s Needs And Routine
Don’t forget that your dog will still need his or her meals, walks, snoozes and toilet breaks at the same times as any other day. We humans can be flexible. Dogs cannot.
Try to stick to your dog’s routine as much as you possibly can.
When we travelled a couple of weeks ago, we made sure that Indy had his meals at the times he expected them. But also, we ensured that, whatever sightseeing we did, it would still leave time for us to retreat to our hotel room with Indy, so he could have his snoozes – and us too!!!
#4. Listen To Your Dog
Remember, when travelling and going on holiday with your dog, especially if (s)he is an older dog, you will not be able to walk for hours on end.
Indy has reduced his walks from twice to once a day in the last couple of years. Sometimes, depending on how hot or cold, or not, the weather may be, the walks will vary in length, but it is still once a day.
Now, prior to adopting Indy, I remember the whole family – including my then younger son – could walk for virtually the whole day sightseeing, or spend the whole day on the beach. When we went away recently, we found we could certainly ask Indy to sustain the same rhythm.
Yet, Indy walked in fairly hot weather and for far longer stretches of time than we could ever imagine him capable of. However, at times we still had to carry him.
If your dog is of smaller breed, it is always wise considering investing in a dog carrier, which you may want to purchase well in advance of your holidays, so you have time to get your dog used to his new method of transport. Here’s a few of my suggestions:
#5. Plan For Medical Emergencies
Finally, if your dog, like Indy, is older and particularly if (s)he has medical conditions, make sure you have a chat with your vet beforehand to find out whether your dog can cope with a temporary change of scenery.
If your dog is on a course of medication, make sure you take the necessary amounts and dosages, to cover you also in case of prolonged emergency stay.
Of course, do not forget to get your dog the necessary passport, if you are based in UK and you are thinking of travelling abroad with your dog. Also, find out and book an appointment, before you start your vacation, for a vet to visit your dog on European land before embarking on your journey back to UK – this is a legal requirement by UK Custom&Excise; which will be explained to you when you apply for your dog passport.
Finally, and especially when travelling abroad or a long distance away from home, make sure you take contact details for your trusted vet or referral centre, should you need to seek advice for medical emergency. Alternatively, always make sure you know of a good vet health centre near where you are.
Do Not Be Afraid To Have Fun With Your Older Dog
Guess what, I am already planning another mini break with our Indy later in the year – hopefully, when the weather is a little fresher for Indy and for all of us.
Going away with our Indy was one of the best time we have had and one of the best holidays!
My personal advice is never to be afraid to take your dog on a vacation or a short break, even when your dog is classed as senior in age. Because, as you can see, it is not at all a burden to travel with your dog.
Provided you follow my fairly basic and straightforward tips, going away with your older dog is not any worse than travelling with your children. Nor does it require any additional planning than if you were planning a holiday for yourself. All it takes is a little consideration for your dog’s needs.
Some dog owners fear taking your dog on a break may mean having to spend a lot more for suitable accommodation. After extensive research – this time we went away on a budget – I can assure you that you will not have to spend more money for specifically dog friendly accommodation or travel arrangements.
In UK, but abroad as well, the dog friendly holiday resorts are available on a wide range, and facilities for dog owner families are on the increase in most touristic attractions and places of interest.
It would be a shame if you missed out on joyful moments of fun with your older dog. Take your older dog on holiday with you. Build fond memories to cherish forever more!
And of course, share with me and my readers your vacation experience with your dog, or with your senior dog. Leave your comment below to let us know your adventures, or indeed to suggest more useful tips.
Should you really not be able to take your dog on holiday, there are alternative solutions, which may still mean a mini holiday for your dog. Find out my #2 top suggestions by clicking on the below links:
And now, please allow me a few more pictures from our holiday gallery: