Travelling With Your Dog
If you’re planning a trip with your dog, there’s a few things that you can do to make sure your pet stays safe, happy and healthy.
As you’ll know government restrictions are different across the UK and changing regularly, but for those of us who can and still plan to travel for a staycation, we thought these helpful tips and advice would be useful.
A change in environment, their routine and the whole process of travelling can be stressful for your dog, so a bit of planning before and during your trip can be a huge benefit for you and your pet.
Whilst it is great to enjoy some time away in a new place with our dogs, it’s important to be aware of the environmental watch-outs of your chosen destination and to ensure you pack all the essentials your pet will need for a trip away.
Before you book your trip
Check your accommodation if you’re staying overnight to make sure that they are dog friendly and to let them know that you’ll be bringing along your canine companion. You should also ask whether they offer any facilities for your pet, in case you need to bring any additional items with you.
If you’re a Pets at Home VIP club member, you can get exclusive benefits when booking with our UK holiday partner. You can choose from over 4,000 pet friendly UK properties and with no pet fee and a free holiday parcel sent to you before you go if booked 21 days in advance!
Once you’ve done your research, you may decide that your dog would be happier either staying at home with a dog sitter or in kennels.
For any trip away with your dog you should also ensure you pack their food and water bowl, toys, lead, collar, bed, poo bags, enough food and medication for the duration of the trip and a tick remover.
Check the weather forecast for where you’ll be going. Dogs can be affected by hot weather and just like humans, can suffer from heatstroke in the summer months. Dogs can also suffer from the cold like humans too, so it’s important to make sure you have towels to dry off your dog after they’ve been swimming or a coat to keep them warm.
If you’ve planned a more active vacation, assess whether your pet is fit and healthy enough to keep up with you. As well as their overall health, you should also check that your dog is up-to-date on their vaccinations as well as flea and worm treatments and remember to bring along any medication that your dog may currently be on.
In case of an emergency you should see what vet services are available in the area that you’re visiting. Make sure you’ve got the contact information for the local vets, as well as the closest out of hour’s service. You may need to bring your dog’s essential documentation, including insurance details, with you.
As soon as you think you may be taking your dog to another country, speak to your vet at the earliest opportunity. Since Great Britain left the EU, the rules regarding pet travel have changed, and they may still become subject to further change.
If you’re taking your dog to Northern Ireland or to the EU, you can no longer use a pet passport issued in Great Britain. If your dog has a passport issued in Northern Ireland, you’ll also need to contact your vet for advice before travelling. Your dog will need to be over six months of age and have a microchip, a valid rabies vaccination and an animal health certificate, which must be issued by a vet up to 10 days before entry to the new country, each time you travel.
They may also need to be given a tapeworm treatment at a specific time before travelling. The rules for travelling outside of the EU are more complex and they vary according to the country. Get advice from your vet as soon as possible and check the requirements of the country to which you are travelling. You can find more information about international travel with pets here and you can also check the requirements of individual countries regarding pet travel, by looking on their own government pages.
If you need to take your dog on an aircraft, enlist the services of a reputable pet travel company, who will be experienced in managing international pet travel. Check the airline’s requirements for travel crate size and specifications. Most airlines won’t allow pets in the cabin and some flights can’t take animals, so it’s possible that your dog won’t be able to travel on the same flight as you do.
Consider the likely weather and temperature at both ends of the journey when you plan to travel. Extreme temperatures place undue stress on animals who are waiting to be loaded or unloaded onto or from aircraft. If possible, choose a direct flight for your dog, to minimise disruption and time spent in transit.
If your dog gets anxious or suffers from travel sickness, there are a few ways you can help. Some puppies who are travel sick to begin with will grow out of it if you take them for frequent, short journeys. Dogs often travel better in crates in the luggage area than they do on the seat. Withholding food for a few hours before a journey can also help to reduce travel sickness in dogs, as can making sure there is good ventilation around them, and travelling when they have been exercised and are more likely to sleep.
Travelling with your dog
Car safety for your dog is just as important as your own. Unrestrained dogs can be a distraction, as well as being a risk to themselves and others in a crash. It is a legal requirement to have them safely restrained whilst travelling in the car. There are multiple types of restraints you can use during travel and it’s important to choose the type that suits you and your dog best.
You should also consider other potential issues when travelling such as car temperature, taking breaks when driving and car sickness in dogs.
If you’ll be travelling on public transport and your dog has never experienced it before, it’s important to think carefully about how they might respond.
If staying overnight, when you arrive at your accommodation, you can help acclimatise your dog to the new environment by walking them around to get used to the new sights and smells. This will help them feel safe and secure.
Make sure that you keep your dog’s routine as consistent as possible so that eating, sleeping, exercising and toilet breaks are the same time every day. Any changes to your dog’s diet can also cause them stress and sometimes an upset stomach, so you should keep them on the same diet as they would have had at home.
Bring along your dog’s bed and a few familiar smelling items like blankets and put these in their bed, or wherever your dog will be spending most of their time. Having something that smells like you or your home can really help your dog feel less anxious in their new environment.
You could even consider a pheromone product to calm and reassure them if they are nervous.
Give your dog the time and opportunity to explore all these new places and meet new faces at their own speed. All the excitement of being on holiday can be exhausting though, so make sure you give your pet lots of time to rest in a quiet, comfortable and safe space.
Your dog will show certain signs if they are feeling stressed.
Take precautions when you’re on holiday with your dog. Keep them on the lead when out on walks unless you’re absolutely certain that the area is safe enough to let them off. If you’re out when it’s dark, make sure your pet has an LED collar or some sort of light attached so they’re easily visible to yourself and others.
If you’ll be heading to the beach, don’t let your dog drink sea water as it can make them unwell. It’s also important to wash your dog after they’ve been in the sea, as saltwater can irritate their skin.
Most importantly, be vigilant if your dog goes for a swim – if they get in trouble in the water, don’t go in after them, but instead call the Coastguard on 112 or 999 immediately.
If you’ll be taking your dog for a stroll in the countryside, watch out for any livestock as your dog should always be kept on a lead around such animals to avoid any disturbance.
If you notice any changes in your dog’s behaviour, this could signal that they may be unwell or stressed. If you have any concerns about your dog’s health, you should get in touch with the closest vet immediately.
Travelling with your dog
We've teamed up with our friends at Pets at Home to record another episode of the Puppy Podcast. In this episode, our vet, Dr Huw, talks about staycationing with a puppy and what to do when you’ve reached your destination!