As the holiday season approaches . . . Print E-mail
News - Rubrieke
Tuesday, 24 November 2015 22:21
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Dr Liesel van der Merwe is a small animal medicine specialist. Send her your questions: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Dr Liesel van der Merwe

I have seven dogs and three cats. What to do with them when we go away on holiday . . .

My husband is in the building trade with his own small business. So, lucky me! I only get to go on a family holiday over December / January – the hottest, most crowded and most expensive holiday season.

As clients with kids in school also know, there is no cheap option when holidays come around. Peak season is pay-up season. This applies to pet boarding facilities as well. The better ones are booked up a year in advance. You have to book to board your dog before you can book your holidays.

What tips do I have for you?
Well, I try to get a dog or house sitter in because of the sheer number of animals I have. The dogs are happier at home; they have company and I also have someone to water my garden.

Cats especially prefer to stay at home. Cats are comfortable in their own familiar environment and, I hate to disillusion you, will not miss you all that much for a week or two. This is generally preferable to sending them to kennels where the environment is strange and there are non-familiar cats in their space.

If you only have cats as pets you can easily ask a neighbour or friend to come in and feed them every second day or so and leave the cats to their own devices – either restricted indoors or left to their normal routine.

Just make sure there is ample water in more than one place as well a sufficient food. Water and food dispensers are available at most vet and pet shops.

If cats are to be restricted indoors because you are worried about injury while you are away, then make sure they are familiar with the litter box, have a sufficient number available and make sure your pet-sitter or pet-feeder will clean the trays regularly and frequently, otherwise you will end up with cystitis issues.

There are many house-sitters which advertise at vets and vet shops. Ask at the university, especially at Onderstepoort Vet School (012-529-8000). Some students have to work over the holidays and may be happy to housesit and earn some extra cash at the same time. Neighbours have teenage sons or daughters or grandchildren who need cash, and these children won’t want to mess up as you know their parents.

Make sure your pets are identified with both tags as well as microchips. They may escape while the sitter is entering or exiting the premises or may also escape during fireworks or thunder.

Tags are handy if someone picks them up – they can just phone you. I add a temporary tag with the pet sitter’s number. If the collar gets damaged or lost then the microchip is invaluable. All vets and shelters have a scanner that enables identification of stray pets.

Make sure you veterinarian is aware that you are away and that your animals are being looked after by a friend or neighbour. Leave the vet’s contact numbers as well as emergency clinic details for your house- or pet-sitter.

If your animals are scared of thunder or fireworks, start medication before you leave. Anxiolytics take a while to be effective in some cases. Also advise your house-sitter to close them up during high-risk times.

If you are sending you pets to kennels, inspect the premises before the time. Especially in summer, adequate proper shade is important. I just saw a client a few weeks ago whose pet had succumbed to heatstroke while in the kennels. They were zinc-roofed enclosures with no additional shade in the form of trees or shade-cloth. This turned the kennels into ovens. Ventilation and multiple levels of shade protection are vital for your pets.

Vaccinations must be up to date if your animal is to be placed into boarding kennels. This is for the protection of your own pet as well as others. Find out the individual kennel’s requirements well ahead of time.

Don’t let your holiday turn into tears because of poorly planned pet care.


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