Note: This post was updated in September 2018 to reflect changes to pet passports.
If you’re one of the 70% of pet owners who plan to take their pet on holiday this year (how can you leave them behind when they do that sad face?), you’ll need to be well prepared. We know that pet owners travel with their beloved companions all year round and with options from pet friendly camping in incredible spots to chic city breaks, European road trips and seaside jaunts, you’re totally spoilt for choice of places to enjoy with your four legged friend. So whether you’re planning to enjoy a UK staycation or going further afield, we’ve compiled your essential checklist for travelling with pets.
BEFORE YOU GO
Check that your pet is up to date with all their relevant vaccinations and it is also worthwhile taking their record card with you should a visit to the vet be necessary. For pets travelling over to Europe, they’ll need to have their rabies vaccination 21 days before you plan to travel. This will also need to be documented in their pet passport.
Pet insurance can be a life (and wallet) saver, so before you set off on an adventure in a new place, it’s advisable to check that your pet is insured. Make sure you know what your policy covers you for and what’s not included. If you’re travelling outside the UK with your pet, always check whether your pet insurance covers costs while abroad. Insurers that cover pets abroad will only do so if your pet has met all the requirements of the PETS Travel Scheme, which are required in order to obtain their pet passport.
If you are planning to take your pet on a little European road trip, or somewhere even more exotic, they will need to get their paws on a pet passport. Speak to your vet about obtaining a pet passport and ensure you know what requirements your pet must meet before returning to the UK, which includes a tapeworm treatment. Certain non-EU countries don’t accept the pet passport and so make sure you speak to your vet about these specific arrangements. Full details of the Pet Travel Scheme can be found at gov.uk.
Regardless of whether you plan to holiday in the UK, abroad or not at all – your pet should ALWAYS be microchipped. If they become lost in a new place, a local shelter or vet will be able to trace them back to you. If you’re planning to travel abroad, a microchip is required by law.
Looking for stylish pet friendly hotels? Check out our Luxe Pet Guide: The discerning pet parent’s little black book.
Plan ahead and take down the details of a local vet at your destination – your hotel or accommodation should be able to help with this. If you’re travelling back from Europe into the UK, you’ll need to make an appointment with a local vet who can conduct a check, administer tapeworm treatment and stamp your pet’s passport.
When your dog is in a new place and may be more likely to get lost or wander off, it can be helpful to have a new ID tag made up with the address and phone number of your accommodation. Remember to include your name, rather than your pet’s name, for safety.
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FOR THE JOURNEY
If travel or car journeys cause your pet to become nervous or anxious, introduce them gradually. Put some of their favourite treats on the seat and start out with short journeys and plenty of praise when they remain calm. You may also want to try one of the many stress relief treats and supplements available.
DOG SEAT BELT:
Make sure your hound is safe and secure for long car journeys and stop them roaming around or causing any mischief. You can be fined for driving without due care if your dog is causing a distraction. A dog seat belt adapter that can easily clip from the seatbelt into your dog’s harness is perfect.
Depending on your mode of transport, a pet carrier might be just the ticket for a smooth journey. Modern carriers have been designed to be super comfortable for pets, with cushioning, ventilation and plenty of storage space built in.
Travelling in a car with a pet that suffers from motion sickness is pretty grim all round. While it is more common in puppies, it can happen to adult dogs too. Before embarking on any long car journeys, it’s important to get your pet used to the car.
Start out with short journeys, make sure they can see outside and ensure there is fresh air. Have plenty of treats to hand and make the experience positive. There’s also a number of medical and herbal travel calm supplements available if you need some extra help, and avoid feeding your pet within two hours of the start of your journey.
While some dogs may be happy to snooze the journey away, others may need a few small distractions. Bring along a good supply of your dog’s favourite chews. Those that last longest will be best like antlers.
BLANKETS / TOWELS:
Aside from giving your pet a nice comfy place for the journey, make sure you protect your car from dog hair and dirt by laying out a waterproof cover or a dog blanket on the back seat.
FOR YOUR STAY – PACKING CHECKLIST
BEDS & BOWLS:
If you’re staying in a pet friendly hotel, you may be lucky enough to be provided with a bed and bowl for your pet. If not, look for a good travel bed or mat that can be easily rolled up and transported. Travel bowls that are or watertight to transport food and liquid in are also ideal. For a truly stylish travel experience, the Travel Wags Dog Tote (below) takes care of everything including food and water storage, plus room to spare for your dog’s favourite travel bed, so you can spend more time looking forward to relaxing.
If your pet eats a raw or fresh food diet, you’ll need to find out what refrigeration facilities are available at your destination. If there are none, consider switching them to a good grain-free dry food for the duration of the trip to make things easier. Have a good supply of treats to hand for any bribery that may be required along the way!
TOYS & PLAY:
You might have plenty of long walks, swimming and adventures planned on your trip, in which case your pooch will most likely be knackered. For those times when you need a rest, make sure you bring along some of your dog’s favourite toys to keep them stimulated.
COLLARS & LEADS:
Check whether your pet’s current collar and lead will be suitable for where you’re going. Leave the designer accessories at home for outdoor holidays and opt for something strong, sturdy and easy to keep clean. If your dog doesn’t normally wear a harness, you may need to pick one up for the seatbelt attachment in the car. You might also want to look at getting your dog a reflective or LED dog collar if you’re planning any night time walks.
For a chic city break, a designer dog coat is just the ticket, but for an active outdoor holiday, you might want to bring along a waterproof raincoat or reflective dog coat.
FLEAS & TICKS:
If you’re planning an outdoor adventure, flea and tick prevention will be essential – especially in the summer months. If you’re not keen on pharmaceutical medications, try a natural flea and tick repellent like Flea & Tick Defence by Diet’ Dog which comes as drops or a spray, or Billy No Mates Flea & Tick Repellent, which can be added to your dog’s food to keep pesky parasites away.
Don’t get caught out while you’re travelling – no one wants a stinky, mucky dog in the car. Hotel shampoos and soaps will be too harsh on your hound’s sensitive skin, so bring along a small bottle of your favourite dog shampoo for any messy moments.
Do you have any great tips for travelling with dogs? Share them with us in the comments below!