One is regarding the decision about where your pets are going to spend their vacation, when you and your family are away on yours.
I know many people who have actively made a decision not to get a dog, or to get a certain breed or size, bearing in mind they will need to cater for their pet when they go on holiday. I think this "vacation awareness" should be always part of deciding whether to get a pet or not, in the first place.
Of course, many people have friends, neighbours or family who will have your pets at their house while you are away, or visit your house regularly or even spend time in your house with them for you while you are away. This can work very well for cats, and for some dogs.
The other option is to take them with you, which can be easier than you think!
Holidaying With Your Dog (or even your cat)
Holidaying with your Dog is actually the title of a great booklet written by the RAC, with names of camping, chalet and other accommodation in Western Australia where you can take your dog with you when you go on holiday, instead of leaving them behind. You can buy it from the RAC and other outlets like camping shops and bookshops. There are increasing numbers of holiday chalets in the best holiday areas that allow you to take your pets. There are even some private individual homes which are available to rent which allow you to take pets, although most don't, but it is worth checking out the private home rental websites, as well as the tourist bureaus in the area you are heading off for.
Remember to give your dog a dose or two of Kennel Cough 30C or 200C before you leave to prevent having a coughing dog keeping you awake in the caravan. For cats, give Cat Flu 30C or 200C. A few days of immune-boosting herbs are good prevention, too, such as Echinacea or Andrographis, dosed proportional to body weight of the human dose recommended for that product.
Anxious dogs and cats will settle into the change better with homeopathic Ignatia and Aconite of any potency, or flower essences such as Rescue Remedy, honeysuckle and walnut in the Bach Flower range, or Emergency essence, bottlebrush and Sturt Desert Pea in the Australian Bush Flower range, or the Pet Calm Living essence spray. An important help to getting pets to settle well while away from home is to take their familiar bedding with you for them to sleep on, or at least take some lovely smelly unwashed clothes or towels of yours to allow the pet to settle with your familiar smell.
Homeopathic remedies to take with you would be covered in the basic travelling homeopathic first aid kit and include Apis for bee stings, Arnica for the odd accident or sprain and Hypericum for a pulled toe nail. Eating rubbish or someone else's food can lead to a bout of the runs, so Arsenicum Alb can be very useful here. Also useful to treat diarrhoea (in any species) is some Slippery Elm Bark powder - mix a teaspoon or two into food or liquid, a to soothe the bowel lining very quickly and safely.
Car sickness settles well with some ginger mixed in a small meal prior to travel, a drop of peppermint oil on the collar, and then, if needed, the homeopathic remedies Petroleum or Cocculus.
Whether you are taking your pet with you on holiday, or leaving them for friends to look after, or at a boarding kennel or cattery, all these above tips apply for helping them to settle, and to avoid them catching kennel cough and cat flu. These two respiratory diseases are more likely to occur when your pets are separated from you, because I think these infections can be triggered more by stress than actually being exposed to the virus. As Traditional Chinese Medicine says, "the lungs are the seat of grief". So it is not surprising to TCM that it is respiratory diseases which predominately occur in boarding animals!
This brings us to another common question I am asked in regard to the boarding of pet animals: why is it that many boarding establishments still require annual vaccination certificates for all major diseases, when the Australian Veterinary Association has released a Dog and Cat vaccination policy which stipulates boosters are needed only every three years or less often if a blood test shows immunity. (See http://www.ava.com.au and click on "policies". At the time of writing, their home page discusses this very question!) Kennel cough and cat flu vaccinations may still be needed annually if your animal is going boarding, and giving these vaccines only is less likely to injure the immune system than over- using the full combination vaccines annually. The new intranasal kennel cough vaccine for dogs is more effective and less immunosuppressive than the needle one.
However, there are now kennels/catteries that will accept homeopathic cover for these respiratory diseases, and have also changed their protocol on conventional vaccines to fit the new AVA vaccine policy. I am compiling a list for my website of these enlightened establishments. I have had a starting list for a while now, but please let me know if there are more out there, so we can reduce disease which may result from unneeded vaccination.
Please help me increase my list - let me know (phone, fax or post) or tell NOVA Magazine, if you know a boarding kennel or cattery which accepts triennial, instead of annual vaccination, or blood titre test results, or/and homeopathic cover for kennel cough and cat flu.
The other issue regarding pets and holiday time is abandonment. Unfortunately, after Christmas there is a high rate of pets that have been bought and given as Christmas presents who end up abandoned and in the dog pounds and cat havens.
All that we have been discussing in this article helps towards awareness of options other than abandoning "inconvenient" pets at holiday time.
But for those pets already abandoned, there are some wonderful people out there who have been doing a great job over many years in finding good homes for these pets, and caring and fostering them until they do get a home.
These institutions are always grateful for volunteers who can either walk and spend time with the animals in the shelters, or foster an animal until a home is found, or of course find a permanent home for them.
I am reluctant to give a list of contacts for specific establishments, in case I miss some out! Look under "Animal Welfare Organisations" on the Internet or the Yellow Pages and you're sure to find somewhere close to you. And don't forget the wonderful efforts of the RSPCA's Guardian Angel Project to help with the Christmas crisis of unwanted pets. (See HYPERLINK "http://www.rspcansw.org.au/" http://www.rspcansw.org.au/)
So why not give a stray "Christmas present animal" a Christmas present of their own by taking them out for a walk or helping them find a home?
I wish all our readers and their pets a peaceful and joyful holiday season.
Dr Clare Middle BVMA CVA Cert1AVH is a qualified holistic veterinarian: www.claremiddle.com
She welcomes your questions on animal health and diet - and holistic vets. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org