Going on Holiday with Your Dog
Going on holiday with dogs is easiest if you prepare everything well in advance – accommodation, travel arrangements, and paperwork can all be organised months before you go, which means less stress and more fun for both of you.
Of course, you might not be taking your dog on holiday abroad but staying somewhere close to home, in which case things are even easier. Whether you’re holidaying with your dog at home or overseas, there are now many types of dog-friendly hotels and accommodation options to suit every taste and budget. Your dog might also enjoy dog training holidays, which provide a place where you can enjoy canine activities and sports with other dog lovers under the guidance of a qualified trainer.
If you’re thinking of going on holiday with your dog abroad you will need to consider pet passports, vaccinations and any rules of travel – take a look at our article about taking your dog on a plane if you are venturing further afield!
Have a comfortable journey with your dog
Just keeping a few simple things in mind will really increase the ease of taking dogs on holiday. Get your pen ready and make sure you’ve thought about everything in the list below – and when you’ve done all that, the only thing left is to get excited about your trip.
- 1. Familiarise your puppy with car travel as early as possible, as this will make any trips away far less stressful. Get them used to the car with treats, toys and lots of encouragement!
- 2. Your dog can lose a considerable amount of body water through panting, so take a bowl and lots of bottles of water with you to help them stay completely hydrated.
- 3. Remember to pack plenty of plastic bags for when your dog goes to the toilet. After all, even when travelling they have the same needs as usual
- 4. Whether you're going on holiday with your dog by rail, boat or air, a carrier designed for dog travel is an important accessory, especially if you have a car without a large, secure boot space. Start looking for the perfect one early.
- 5. Consult the airline or train company about carrier size and requirements, which may differ according to your dog's height and weight. This will help you avoid a last minute rush!
- 6. If your dog isn’t already used to a carrier, take several weeks to introduce it before your trip. Leave it open and available, filled with soft bedding and an occasional hidden treat.
- 7. Make sure your accommodation is dog-friendly and, if you are staying at someone else's home, check ahead about toilet facilities for your dog.
- 8. Remember to think about the presence of other pets (either during travel or at your destination) which might affect your dog’s behaviour. Will your dog want to chase the B&B owner’s housecat, for example, or bark at the dogs they’re travelling with?
- 9. Before you go on holiday with your dog, particularly by plane, get a check-up with the vet first. Not all pets will be suited to all forms of transport – some may find it too stressful.
Microchipping your dog is important – many pets go on an unexpected adventure every now and then, and if your dog were to get lost whilst on holiday you’d want the best chance of seeing them returned. This is even more important if you’re going abroad with your dog, as unfamiliar sights and sounds might prompt more excitable pets to get distracted and dash for something!
In fact, if you're going overseas under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), it's compulsory that your dog is microchipped. Ask your vet for more details, or read about microchipping your dog in our handy article.
Schemes for travelling abroad with your dog
To make things easier for your dog to travel abroad with you, the British government have set up something called The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS for short), which is administered by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
This scheme lets people take their cats and dogs on holiday to a number of other countries, then return them to the UK, all without the need for quarantine. All owners have to do is make sure that certain conditions are met!
These conditions include booking your trip with an approved transport company, using an approved route, and making sure your pet fulfils health criteria – like having a recent blood test and up-to-date vaccinations. In short, travelling to many places is a lot easier than it once was, saving stress for both your dog and you.
The list of everything you need for the scheme, including approved countries, companies and routes, is updated quite frequently, so check the DEFRA website to get more information or call the PETS Helpline on 0870 241 1710.
Remember, however, that when you go on holiday with your dog some countries still have special conditions for your entry, or require particular documents. And when travelling abroad with your dog, some countries still require a period of quarantine on arrival. Again, DEFRA can help you find out if this applies to you.
Residents of the Republic of Ireland can find out about travel regulations and requirements here.
Travelling with dogs to the EU after Brexit
With Brexit looming, you’ll need to start thinking about the additional requirements for travelling with dogs to the EU after Brexit. The new process involves you visiting the vet at least 4 months before your travel date, and you’ll need to ensure you complete the following steps:
- Get your dog microchipped if they’re not already
- Vaccinate your dog for rabies – if they already have been, ensure these are up to date
- 30 days after your dog’s rabies vaccination, return to your vet for a blood test to make sure it’s worked
- Wait 3 months after the successful blood test before travelling
- No more than 10 days before travel, go back to your vet to get an animal health certificate
Where travelling with dogs after Brexit may seem like a lot of effort, it’s worth noting that providing your dog’s vaccinations are kept up to date, you won’t need to repeat the blood tests for each journey.
Note: In the event of a no deal Brexit, current EU pet passports issued in the UK will no longer be valid for entry into the EU.
For more information regarding travelling with your dog after Brexit, check the official guidance.
Leaving your dog at home
Of course, not all dogs are completely suited to travel: if they are elderly, ill, or have a history of anxiety during confinement or dog travel, you should consider leaving them at home with a reliable dog sitter or in kennels.
There are lots of care options to choose from whatever your budget, so you’re sure to find something that suits your dog. To help you choose what’s best for both of you, get started by reading about dog sitting and day care.
To find a dog sitter or kennels, or to look for dog-friendly accommodation, why not search our Directory for Dogs too?
Whether your dog goes on holiday with you or stays at home, bear in mind what is best for them. As long as they’re happy, your holiday will be a great one!