A guide to taking your dog abroad

If you share your life with a dog, you'll be familiar with the dilemma that arises come holiday time: what do you do with your pet?

With more and more holiday homes and hotels now welcoming dogs, today's dog owner no longer has to leave their beloved pooch at home when they go on holiday. And after all, dogs are part of the family, so why shouldn't they join in on the family getaway?

Or maybe you are planning to relocate permanently for work or retire to sunnier climes. In which case, taking your dog abroad may be a necessity.

If you do wish to take your dog abroad, there are some things you need to be aware of before you go.

Travelling abroad with a dog

If you choose to take your dog overseas, you need to decide how you are going to travel. Driving may be the most pet-friendly way to travel as this should cause the least amount of stress for your dog, if your pooch is already used to car journeys. You then have the option to take your pet on a car ferry or Eurotunnel to your holiday destination.

You should bear in mind that some ferries insist your dog stay in the car for the duration of the crossing and they aren't allowed up on deck, which may be an issue if your dog doesn't like to be left alone. Contact your ferry company in advance of your journey so you can prepare accordingly.

If your dog is not allowed out of the car, ensure they have access to plenty of water and keep the car ventilated to avoid overheating.

Can I fly with my dog?

A select number of airlines will allow dogs on board, but unless they are assistance dogs, they may need to fly in the hold. If you have a small breed, your dog may be able to travel in the cabin with you.

You will need to buy a suitable flight carrier to make sure they are secure and comfortable during the flight and remember to pack plenty of snacks and water.

Before you go

Getting a pet passport

Just like humans, dogs need a passport to go abroad. Pet passports are compulsory for taking your dog in and out of the UK and shows your pet meets the requirements of the country you're travelling to, including:

  • Microchipping
  • Proof of vaccination against rabies
  • Rabies blood test (if required)
  • Canine tapeworm treatment (if required)
A dog getting ready for holidays
"Driving may be the most pet-friendly way to travel as this should cause the least amount of stress for your dog."
Another dog getting ready for a holiday

If you're heading to Europe, you'll need to get an Animal Health Certificate (AHC), issued and signed by an official vet. You must take your pet to your vet no more than 10 days before travel to get this.

An AHC is valid for:

  • 10 days after the date of issue for entry into the EU or NI
  • onward travel within the EU or NI for 4 months after the date of issue
  • re-entry to the UK for 4 months after the date of issue

If you are planning a trip outside the EU, you'll need an Export Health Certificate (EHC). You'll also need to complete an export application form (EXA) if you're in England, Scotland or Wales

Consider your dog's needs

The thought of leaving your precious pooch at home while you go on holiday may seem unbearable for you, but it could be the best thing for your dog. If you have an older dog with health problems or anxiety, leaving them at home may be the kindest thing for them. Afterall, holidays are supposed to be enjoyable for everyone.

If you really need to take your dog abroad there are a few things you can do to make the trip more comfortable for them, like bringing a familiar blanket or toy to help put your dog at ease.

Prepare in advance

Getting organised is the key to a stress-free trip. The more preparation you do before you head off, the less chance you have of encountering any mishaps along the way.

Preparing your pup for your getaway should start months before you're due to depart. Start taking your dog on car journeys to get them used to spending long periods of time in the car. Do some research on your holiday destination to find out where the local vets are and have a look for dog-friendly restaurants and bars, so your dog isn't left alone for too long during the holiday.

Top tips for travelling with your dog

  • Plan regular stops to exercise your dog
  • Make sure there's a plentiful supply of water
  • Take familiar toys to keep them calm and occupied
  • Ensure your dog is wearing a collar with an identity tag
  • Buy a suitable crate or safety harness to secure your dog in the car
  • Take poo bags - for obvious reasons!

Whether you are taking your dog on holiday or relocating abroad, you will need to ensure you have appropriate insurance in place.

For your dog, you will need a pet insurance policy with cover for overseas travel. If you already have a pet insurance policy check to see if overseas travel is covered as standard. If not, contact your insurer to see if they can add it to your policy.

For you, you will need a good travel insurance policy to cover you for any unforeseen circumstances while you're away such as cancelled flights or ferry as well as potential medical costs and lost luggage.


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