We all suffer from the dreaded holiday spread when we’re away from home, and your pet is no different. Coming home from a great family break with an extra couple of kilos is even worse when you find your fur friend can’t fit through his kennel door. Oh dear.

Here’s how to keep pets on the go healthy.

Food holidays aren’t always a good idea.
Most pets suffer from upset stomachs if you abruptly change their food, so while you enjoy a bit of roast quail and the odd degustation dinner on holidays, Fido will almost always prefer to stick to his usual dog nuts and a morning bone. (Unless you’re going to specialty dining rooms like this recently-reviewed gem!)

Just because the brand of pet food that you use is common in your area doesn’t mean that it will be easy to find at your destination. When you take your pet on holiday, be sure to bring a large enough supply of pet food from home to last your pet for the entire trip. You should stock up, bringing at least one extra bag of food with you. If something should happen to one bag of food, you will have plenty extra.

Hydration nation.
Pets on the go need extra water. Just as you dehydrate in recycled air-con or on long trips, so too will the puss cat in the back seat.

Also remember that your pet is accustomed to the water supply at home — slight changes in minerals or chlorination in the holiday version can upset your pet’s stomach just as much as changing their food. So when you take your pet on holiday, you should bring along a supply of water from home to wean them onto the new-tasting H20.

As a rule, large dogs will need at least one litres of water a day. Small and medium breeds can get by on a half-litre for each day you will be gone (or at least the first couple of days if you’re planning on weaning them onto the local holiday supply), and cats should have at least one litre for every two days you will be on the road.

The car is not always your friend.
Never leave an animal unattended in a car for any length of time — not even with the windows unwound slightly. The interior of your car will become very hot, very quickly, even on a day that isn’t overly warm. Cats are even more susceptible to heat stroke, so avoid keeping them in the car on your trip for any length of time.

You’ll also need to stop-revive-survive with your furry friend every two or three hours. This means scheduling a quick stop for a toilet break and a run around… chances are they’ll be hanging on for a wee just as much as you are!

Don’t get cash strapped.
When you have pets on the go, you should always have a supply of extra money on hand in case of emergencies. Running out of your pet’s regular food or medicine, making unscheduled vet trips (fingers crossed this doesn’t happen of course) or just needing to pay a tad extra for their overnight stays means you’ll soon be digging your hand in your pocket. Don’t let it ruin the whole trip!

Get some exercise.
Yes, you, lazy bones! Just because your idea of the perfect holiday involves lounging by the pool in a banana chair with a book for eight hours a day doesn’t mean your pet will have the same idea in mind.

They’ll need a regular dose of exercise to stay fit and healthy on the go, so make sure you have a couple of pet-friendly exercise areas or off-leash dog parks in mind near your home away from home.

Using a dedicated pet-friendly app for smart phones and mobiles is a great way to find these in a new area, and a good one will only set you back a couple of bucks. That’s a lot cheaper than a doggy diet plan, and a lot more fun for everyone.

The key to keeping pets on the go healthy and safe is to observe what the pet is doing.

As a general rule, don’t let them drink from dirty puddles or natural waterways unless you would do the same (that is, the water doesn’t really look that bad), and don’t let them eat anything that you haven’t given them. For other tips, including finding the nearest pet-friendly exercise areas on holidays, consult a mobile app.

Following these simple rules will keep your pet safe during holiday travel. And don’t forget to share your own hot travel tips here!

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