Planning to take your dog on holiday?

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions
Poppy - without Natasha

Trixie – without Natasha

Taking your pets on holiday not only saves money in boarding fees but will, at the same time, alleviate any worries about how they are.

Hopefully your dog is a good traveller and already used to being ferried around. The good news is that trains within the UK don’t charge for your animal. If you are planning to travel by coach however it won’t be possible, as their insurance doesn’t allow it.

If you’re travelling by car it is important that your dog  has a seat belt. If you have an accident, it is just as likely as you to be thrown through the car window. These belts are like a harness with an extension that clips into the seat belt socket. Remember to take water and a bowl for the pooch, and enough of its food. If the weather is in anyway half decent take the animal with you when you stop. Don’t leave it in the car, even for a few minutes, as the sun heats up very quickly, even with the windows open. Be aware too that if you do leave your dog with the window open, there is always the possibility that someone could steal it.

Hotels and holiday lets around the country in recent years have become much more aware of the need to provide  dog-friendly accommodation. Often a hotel will have a couple of rooms, hopefully with outside access that are designated as dog friendly. Although it is rare to find a restaurant in the UK which will allow dogs, unless they have an outside eating area, many pubs even the smarter gastro pubs will have an area inside, as well as out, where they are allowed.

If you are taking a beach holiday do check both here and abroad if you plan to allow your dog to frolic on the beach or go in the water. During the summer months, there are often restrictions.

petpassportAs time goes by restrictions for taking your pet abroad have been eased although there are still restrictions. As long as your beloved pooch has been micro-chipped or in some cases tattooed, and it has been 21 days since having a rabies vaccination it will be issued with a Pet Passport. It is essential that the micro-chipping is done first. At this point, the animal can travel abroad to a European Union or non-EU, but accepted country. The Pet Travel Scheme website gives the entire list. If your pet has health insurance, it is important to check whether it is covered when you are abroad. The required vet visit before coming back into the UK won’t be.

Getting across the Channel with an animal usually requires a car. When booking, the ferry company needs to know if you are taking an animal, as there is usually a charge. However, it is on the return journey, when the passport is checked, and it is essential that everything is in order or you can have problems returning with to the UK. The important thing is that your dog is treated for tapeworm. The treatment has to be carried out by a vet and entered in the passport one to five days (24 to 120 hours) before returning to the UK unless you are coming directly from Finland, Ireland, Malta and Norway.

When travelling, in most cases, the dog has to stay in the car but the bonus is that you are likely to be placed at the head of the boarding queue. P&O Ferries give you a brightly coloured shocking pink dog’s paw mark to hang on your windscreen. On a crossing I made across the Channel, we had a very bumpy crossing and I feared that my darling dog would be suffering as much as I. Not a bit of it. When we were eventually allowed to return to our car she was happily curled up on the front seat. For longer journeys, Brittany Ferries have dog-friendly cabins on some of their Portsmouth routes to France and Spain. P&O Ferries provide air-conditioned kennels for their overnight crossing from Hull to Zeebrugge and Rotterdam. Stena Lines have kennels on board where foot passengers can leave their dogs although this needs to be booked in advance to be sure of availability. On Condor Ferries’ route between the UK and the Channel Islands pets are only accepted with foot passengers if they provide their own RSPCA approved carrier. This needs to be left in a designated area on the car deck which incurs a £10 fee although if the animal travels in a car there is no charge. On their Portsmouth to Cherbourg route pets have to be left in the vehicle for which there is a charge. The best option is where you can stay with your dog. If Folkestone to Pas-de-Calais fits your travel requirements then Eurotunnel to my mind is the best way to cross the Channel as everyone stays together in the car.

red sticker in the window, we were ready to holiday

red sticker in the window, we were ready to holiday

Sadly, unless it is an assistance dog, Eurostar doesn’t accept animals. If you are thinking of taking your dog by aeroplane you need to make sure that the carrier, and the route have been approved for carrying dogs. Although you may have been on a flight and seen passengers with their dogs, particularly smaller breeds, animals are not allowed in the cabins flying in and out of UK airports. Only assistance dogs are allowed to accompany their owners. Your pet will have to travel as cargo.

A big plus, particularly in France and Italy, is that most restaurants allow animals, as long as they are well behaved, to sit at your feet and if your lucky, will also provide a bowl of water. Except for supermarkets, in both of these countries, having your dog with you is not in any way considered a problem. Having said that, I was once asked to leave my little dog outside a bakery in a sleepy village, so you can never be totally sure. Hotels too tend to be dog friendly. However, it is always prudent to check before making a booking.

For more information about taking your pet abroad – and bringing it back, click here

If there are particular questions,  e-mail the Pet Travel Scheme Helpline  or telephone 0870 241 1710   Mon – Fri 8am – 6pm (closed Bank holidays)


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