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What to know when travelling with dogs

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Travelling with dogs is actually much easier than people often assume. If you plan on taking your furry friends on holiday, here’s what you should know. 

What to know before travelling with dogs

You can take dogs on most forms of transport, including planes and buses. However, you need to remember that the rules for canine travel vary widely across the world, so your first job is to research the rules for your chosen destination. 

Once you’ve clarified that you can travel with your dog, there are some things you need to take care of: 

  • Get your dog microchipped. Not only do microchips make it easier to find your pet if they run off, but, according to DEFRA, you can’t bring your dog back to the UK without one.
  • Check with your vet and see if your pet needs any vaccinations before you travel. Keep proof of vaccinations handy. Start the vaccination process at least four months before your travel date – rabies jabs require multiple blood tests.
  • Depending on where you’re travelling to, you might need a pet passport. Simply contact DEFRA to find out if this applies to you, and how to get one. 
  • Take out pet insurance – this can save you a lot of money if your pet requires treatment on the road. 

Finally, always talk to a vet before travelling with a dog that’s ill or less than three months old.

Travelling with dogs by car 

A car is the most dog-friendly way to travel, especially if your dog is already familiar with the vehicle. Still, there are things you can do to make the trip easier.

  • Worried about car sickness? Stop feeding your pooch at least two hours before you set out.
  • Use a carrier, cage, or pet harness to keep them safe during the drive.
  • Always factor in toilet breaks, and make sure they’ve got enough water. 
  • If it’s hot, use sunshades and keep the windows open. 

Joining a ferry at some point on the journey? Don’t forget to tell the operator that you’re bringing your dog. Not all ferry operators allow furry friends aboard and those that do may charge. 

Taking your dog on a plane 

Many airlines allow you to carry dogs on the plane. However, unless it’s an assistance dog, you’ll probably need to put it in the hold in a carrier or cage. Unsurprisingly, this can be pretty stressful for your canine companion, so weigh up all of your options before flying with your pet.

If you still need to fly, here’s what to do:

  • Contact the flight operator and tell them that you’re flying with a pet. 
  • Check whether your flight operator has special carrier or cage requirements.
  • Even if your dog is microchipped, put a tag on its collar with your details so that you can be reunited easily.  

Before flying, take your dog for a checkup. Your vet can give you breed-specific advice to make the flight easier. 

Travelling on buses and trains with your dog

If you plan on taking your dog on a bus or train, here’s what to do:

  • Check the transport company’s policy. National Rail, for example, lets you travel with dogs, but Eurostar does not (unless it’s an assistance dog). 
  • Check for any rules you need to comply with. Usually, this means keeping the dog on a lead or in a cage at all times.
  • Be aware of possible costs. Operators like National Rail let you travel with two dogs for free, but if you put the dog or the cage on a seat, you’ll probably be charged for it. 
  • Keep your dog under control. The operator can ask you to leave the train if your dog disturbs other passengers or causes a nuisance.

When you travel by sleeper, additional rules apply: 

  • You must give the operator at least 48 hours’ notice that you plan to bring a dog on board.
  • Unless it’s a service dog, it must remain in the carriage for the whole trip. The only exception is if there’s a planned stop and you take the dog for a walk. 

What if I can’t take my dog with me?

If your dog is too old, sick, or anxious to travel, it’s best to leave them at home. But how do you ensure they’re well cared for while you’re away? You have a few options.

  • Check if your friends or family can dog sit for you while you’re gone.
  • Hire a professional dog sitter. 
  • Put your dog into kennels. 

There’s no right answer. It all depends on what’s best for your particular dog.    

Takeaway

Travelling with dogs can be a stressful experience. But with some carefully planned holiday pet care, it can actually be fun. Just make sure you microchip your dog and confirm any pet passport requirements before you set off!

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