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How to travel with your dog

Taking your best friend on holiday with you is everyone's ideal situation, but travelling with a dog can be a complicated process. Make sure you know how.

Dog running with owner through sea waves and spray along a sandy beach on a sunny day

Taking a dog on holiday is more popular than ever, with thousands of people now packing their pooch along with their holiday gear for their annual trip abroad. But there’s a lot you need to do to make sure your pet is legal, safe and comfortable before you go and while you’re there. So follow our guide to travelling with dogs and you’ll both be lapping up the sun in no time.

Women and dog sitting looking around with beach and sea and sun shining in distance

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Before you travel

If you’re travelling to Europe, your dog will need to comply with the EU Travel Scheme rules, have an EU pet passport and be microchipped. In addition, they will need a rabies vaccination and tapeworm treatment before you go. The rabies vaccination must be given at least 21 days before you travel and your dog must be microchipped before the vaccination is carried out. Countries outside the EU will have different rules about travelling with pets, so you should check with the specific country for their entry policy.

Can you take your dog on a plane?

There is a range of different rules when it comes to taking a dog on a plane. For instance, British Airways will transport your pet but only in the hold. The only dogs allowed in the cabin are service animals such as guide dogs. Meanwhile, many low-cost airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair don’t allow dogs on board at all, unless they are a service animal. The best advice is to call the airline you plan to travel with before you book and find out their specific policy regarding pets.

The cost of travelling with your dog

Just as different pet transport rules apply for different airlines, the cost of travelling with a dog will also vary. While some charge a flat fee (€125 for a British Airways flight at the time of writing), others will charge different rates according to your destination and the size of your animal. You can contact your airline to determine exactly how much you need to pay.

Driving with your dog

If you’re staying in this country or planning to drive abroad, there are a few things you should do to keep your dog safe, happy and legal on a long car journey. The law recommends that your pet is transported in a seatbelt harness or a suitable pet carrier or dog cage, so that it cannot distract you while driving or injure you or itself if you stop too quickly.

Allowing your dog to roam freely around the car could mean that not only are you breaking the law, but you may also be invalidating your car and pet insurance policies. Better for you both to stay safe and covered and get the right restraint for your dog. Other essential items for a long car journey include plenty of water and food, extra blankets, snacks, a few toys and contact details of your vet, as well as a vet at your destination.

Dog leaning out of car window

What to take

While your dog will be protected against rabies and tapeworm, they may also need some protection from ticks, mosquitoes and flies, so it’s worth investing in a suitable pest treatment. Attach an extra ID disc to their collar with your holiday address and contact number in case your pet gets lost. Also, you may not be able to buy your dog’s usual brand of food while you’re away, so make sure you pack plenty to get them through the holiday if they’re fussy eaters.

When you get there 

  • If you’re going somewhere hot, take care to prevent your dog getting heatstroke by avoiding exercise in the hottest part of the day and keep them in the shade.
  • You should also make sure they always have access to water.
  • If you’re worried that your pet is getting heatstroke, cool them down by pouring water over their neck and abdomen and get them to a vet as quickly as possible if they start to look like they’re in trouble.

Returning home

  • Between one and five days before you’re due to return home, take your dog to a local vet to have them checked, scanned and given a tapeworm treatment.
  • Make sure they sign and date your dog’s passport.
  • Take as much care with your pet’s transport arrangements as you did on the way out and you’ll both be home safe and happy.

White dog running along a sandy beach

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