A Guide to Travelling with your Pet
Photo by Raymond Barlow via Flickr
We love our pets so much, and for many of us going on holiday without them has become
unthinkable. Bringing them along does require a little extra planning. You need to make additional
travel arrangements and ensure your destinations are pet friendly. This guide will offer some advice
about how to ensure they are well looked after and can enjoy the holiday as much as you do.
Pet Passport – Pet Travel Scheme (PETS)
Issued by your vet, this passport scheme was implemented to stop the spread of rabies and other
diseases, but still allow easy travel with your pet between member countries. All animals susceptible
to rabies must go into quarantine for six months if they do not meet these requirements.
Before leaving, you need to make sure that your pet has a:
Microchip – logging your pet’s number can also
reunite you with a pet that has become lost or run
Not been to a non-PETS country within the last six
months. photo by anthonyatinterlink via flickr
You must also travel on a PETS approved sea, air, or rail route and update tick and tapeworm
treatment before your vet will issue your pet passport.
Pet Friendly Destinations
Planning ahead and knowing which places are pet-friendly will make both of your lives much easier.
Many hotels offer amenities specific to pets and pet owners, and it’s wise to check to see if your
hotel is pet friendly before booking – there are many resources online to make this easier.
Beaches, gardens, parks and other attractions are often pet friendly, and doing proper research as
you plan your itinerary will help you include your pet in most of the activities. If you know
beforehand that an attraction is not accessible, it’s much easier to arrange a dog-walker or other
caretaker while you’re away. Some dog friendly hotels and cottages have kennels onsite to facilitate
Travelling by air
Smaller animals can travel with you in the cabin on some airlines, provided the pet carrier is small
enough to be stowed under the seat. Larger animals must be checked in as baggage and stowed in
the cargo area. Airlines charge hefty fees for animals (sometimes as much as your own ticket), and
its best to check availability when you book your own ticket to ensure you’re both on the same
flight. These are the PETS approved air routes and carriers in the EU.
Travelling by rail and by sea
Pets are allowed on most trains in Europe, but are not allowed on some local routes or on the
Eurostar. Small dogs often travel free, and larger ones usually travel at half the second class fare.
Some railways require dogs to be on a leash or in a carrying case. Many ferries limit where your dog
or cat can go while on board, but they usually have some kind of pet area on the vehicle deck. These
are the PETS approved routes by sea and rail in the EU. You will often be required to be travelling
with a vehicle as part of your PETS Passport.
Your pet’s carrying container should be well
ventilated and roomy enough for the animal to
move around. Familiarize them with the
container before the trip and put a favourite toy
or cushion in there with them to help them
settle. Feed your pet a light meal a couple of
hours before putting them in the container and
make sure to stock it with adequate food and
water for the trip.
Dollar, Enterprise, and Thrifty do not allow pets to ride in their rental cars with the exception of
assistance dogs. Other rental companies do accept dogs, but charge additional fees. If you’re
renting a car, any damage your pet causes by chewing or scratching will not be covered by your
temporary car insurance, and companies will bill you to repair damage and clean up any accidents or
Canine seat belts
As much as your dog may love to have their head out the window, this
is not allowed on some roads. This is to limit the distraction to the
driver, but also because it is safer for the animal in the event of an
accident. Many places require pets to be restrained by either a special
seat belt harness or chair, or to ride in a carrying case.
photo by mockstar via flickr
Leaving your pet alone in your car
As responsible owners we need to plan ahead, because there are consequences to leaving an animal
in your car, even if it’s for only a short time.
On a warm day, a dog can suffer heat stroke in as little as twenty minutes; the car acts like an oven,
greatly amplifying the temperature outside. A dog can only handle a temperature of 107° for a short
while before it starts to cause damage, and on a 73° day, the inside of a parked car can heat up to
107° in as little as twenty minutes.
It’s inevitable that there will be times that you’ll need to leave your pet in the car for at least a short
time, but you’ll have to take steps to help keep your pet cool
Park in the shade
Leaving windows open for ventilation
Leave them water to drink
Let them out of the car to relieve themselves before leaving
This will only provide temporary relief; a dog can still overheat in as little as twenty minutes even
when you have done these things. Therefore, you should try to keep your absences as brief as
possible, and avoid errands that could potentially drag out and cause your dog to be left alone.
If you suspect a dog may have heatstroke, you should slowly try to rehydrate them and cool them
with a wet cloth and have them checked by a vet. The symptoms to watch for are restlessness,
excessive thirst, heavy panting, tiredness, poor appetite, dark tongue, rapid heartbeat, fever,
vomiting, or lack of coordination.
If your paper work is in order, your pet should be allowed back in to the UK without having to
endure a quarantine period. Consult your vet for advice before you leave.