Dogs on Holiday: Here are 9 expert tips on taking your adorable dog to Europe for a summer holiday - including all the documents you need
With summer 2022 being the first one in two years with little to no travel restrictions, the 3.2 million households that acquired a pet during lockdown are having to make the decision on whether to take their furry family member on holiday with them, or leave them behind.
Costly kennels and the thought of leaving them with a stranger, means more holidaymakers than ever before are thinking about taking their dogs on holiday with them.
Taking dogs abroad can require a lot of thinking ahead, but if organised properly it can be a rewarding and memorable e xperience.
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Cat explained: “Dogs are our family, so it makes sense to include them in our family holidays if we know they will have just as good a time as we will.
“Simply plan ahead and pick a fabulously dog friendly destination to make some memories that will last forever.
“As useful as these tips are, there are other factors to think about before travelling with your pooch. These tips are some of the things to know and consider when travelling but you should always check the government website of the country you are visiting to ensure you are compliant with their rules.”
Here’s what she had to say.
Pick the right destination
Places you can drive to are your best bet when looking to holiday with your pet. Travelling by plane comes with a lot of red tape and expense, which isn’t often worth the trouble when going for a one to two week break.
Technically the whole of Europe is your oyster but when holidaying with pets, we do have to be practical about the distances and time we spend on the road, especially if it is your first time taking them away.
As well as the destination, ensure the resort and accommodation you are staying in is suitable. Around 70% of the Eurocamp accommodation range welcomes dogs and with many of these in France, they are within an easy driving distance for a first holiday. Their most popular parc for dogs is La Croix du Vieux Pont, just two and a half hours drive from Calais.
Make sure they are microchipped, vaccinated and identifiable
All dogs travelling into Europe need a microchip that has been confirmed as working by your vet and must be vaccinated against Rabies, at least 21 days before they leave the UK. How often the rabies needs to be repeated will depend on the country you are visiting, so it is important you check this and keep them up to date.
Also, in most EU countries your dog must wear a collar with your contact details on.
Failure to comply with these rules can result with your dog being refused entry into the country.
Passports are out - Animal Health Certificates are in
Now we have left the EU, the passports that our dogs used to be able to travel on are no longer valid. In order to enter Europe a vet will need to issue you an Animal Health Certificate.
These need to be completed no more than 10 days before you leave and are valid for four months of onward travel in the EU and return to the UK. You can only travel once with each certificate, so even if you’re lucky enough to have another holiday booked within four months, you would still need a new AHC.
The forms generally cost around £150 each and you will need to know your country of entry, travel arrangements and the named person who will be travelling with your pet.
A vet is required to complete these forms for you, and you can either use your own vet, or a dedicated vet who has set up solely to issue AHCs (these are most often in the port towns and you can generally find these by googling). They will need access to your records from your usual vet, which you will need to give permission for, and you will need to visit them before travelling, so this will need to be factored into your plans.
Check the breed
In some EU countries, particularly France, dog breeds we know and love in the UK are considered dangerous and therefore banned or are under significant restrictions. This mainly applies to Rottweilers and Staffie types that could be considered Pitbulls and Mastiff breeds.
They may be stopped from entering or you could be liable to fines when you are there, so it is very important to ensure your breed isn’t on the list.
Don’t get caught with meat at the border
It is now illegal to import meat or meat derivatives into the EU, which means you won’t be able to take your dog’s normal food, or treats, with you. The only circumstances where a dog diet would be allowed is if it is for medical purposes (confirmed by a letter from your vet) and even then you are only allowed a maximum of 2kg, it must be commercially prepared and not require refrigeration or freezing.
One option is to travel with a bag of vegan or vegetarian dog food to get you through the journey and then buy ordinary dog food as soon as you can. If your dog has a sensitive tummy and you are worried it could get upset on a new food, consider asking your vet for probiotics to support them through the change.
Many brands available in the UK are also on sale in Europe so if you don’t want to change their food, you could always make sure they are fed before you cross the border , and then pick up some more food when you get to the other side.
Get parasite protected
You probably know about the requirement to visit a vet before you return to the UK to have your dog wormed but it is also important to keep them protected while you are away. There are some serious diseases that are carried by parasites like mosquitoes, sandflies and ticks that we don’t have in this country.
The right treatment will vary depending on where in Europe you are going, so ask your vet for their advice and have a good idea of vets in the area you’re visiting.
Pack their suitcase
Your dog won’t need as many holiday outfits as you, but there will still be a fair bit to pack for them.
Remember their collar, lead and harness if you use one. Take their bed or at least a blanket that smells of home, as this should really help them to settle in a new environment. Towels are also a good idea if they are water babies. Things like food and water bowls are useful, as are favourite toys. I can also recommend a kong or lickimat if you have them.
Again, these can be brilliant at relaxing and distracting your dog both on the journey and during those lovely holiday evenings! And don’t forget poo bags! They are vital!
If your dog takes regular medication it is sensible to have proof they have been prescribed by your vet. An invoice or prescription should be adequate but it is very important you check the individual rules of the country you are travelling to. Also, pay attention to any storage requirements the drugs have, many need to be kept at specific temperatures to be effective.
This information should be included on the data sheet that comes with the packaging.
In the same vein, plan ahead to be sure you know what to do if your pet does need veterinary attention while you are away. Make a note of the local surgeries and check your pet or holiday insurance covers you for vets bills incurred abroad.
Having your dog properly restrained in a car is not only a legal requirement, in an accident it could be lifesaving for both you and your pet.
Some dogs prefer to be on a seat with a seat belt and harness but others find being able to see out of the windows stressful and are much calmer in the boot.
However, if they do journey in the back of the car, pay attention to the temperature there. On warm days it can rise pretty quickly, especially as often the air-con doesn’t reach there well in many vehicles. Cool mats, fans and regular breaks can be helpful but for some dogs and some cars, travelling for long journeys in the boot isn’t practical or safe.
Keep snacks and water on hand both for the journey and for breaks.
Plan your journey
Regular breaks are vital when you are travelling with pets but how frequent they need to be very much depends on your dog. Some will need a break every couple of hours, others will need to go longer. They may be napping at a time when you had planned to stop and you can decide to leave them but you will have to be ready to stop when they wake up!
Knowing plenty of potential rest stops that are safe for your dog to get out and stretch their legs and being flexible is the key.
For those travelling to Europe, Eurotunnel is an option to get your dog across the channel as it only takes 35 minutes and you can all stay in the car together. They also have dedicated exercise areas for use before boarding and complimentary poop bags.