Thinking about taking the dog on holiday? Or perhaps you’re going travelling and don’t want to leave the pooch behind? Check out our simple guide to taking your dog to Europe.
Had I known how easy it would be to travel with the dog, and how simple it is to get a pet passport, my dog would be far better travelled. After two months on the road with our kelpie, he’ll never be excluded from European travels again. Unfazed by the long ferry journeys and van travel, he was in his element on the road: roaming miles of beaches, cooling off in the sea and making hundreds of friends to play with.
The only downsides of travelling with this dog were his scavenging skills and embarrassing habit of stealing frisbees from French naturists. On the upside – as well as him, and us, having more fun – he also provided extra security for the campervan filled with our worldly belongings. I won’t be taking him on long-haul trips or city breaks but if you’re planning a dog-friendly trip – preferably travelling by ferry or Eurotunnel – why not forego kennel costs and the worry of leaving Rover in someone else’s care? Here are a few things to consider.
GETTING A PET PASSPORT
On the Pet Travel Scheme, dogs can travel between all EU-listed countries using a DEFRA-approved Pet Passport. As long as your dog is up to date with vaccinations and is micro-chipped, all you need is a trip to the vet for a health check and rabies jab. The vet will then provide you with all the necessary documentation, and your dog is permitted to leave the UK 21 days after the jab. (If you are travelling anywhere outside of the EU, the process is a little more complicated as your dog will need a blood test taken at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination.) Before leaving I also ensured the dog’s collar was fitted with a well-secured tag showing my name and phone number (including international dialling code).
LEAVING THE UK
Wherever you decide to travel with your dog, you must depart from (and return to) the UK on an authorised route with an approved transport company. Eurotunnel and plenty of ferry companies welcome dogs onboard, as do several air routes. The cost of transporting your dog by ferry depends on if a kennel is required and the length of the crossing, but expect to pay anything from £16.50 to £50 each way. On the Eurotunnel it costs £15 each way for dogs to travel.
Before leaving, do some research into how dog-friendly the areas are that you intend to visit. Most beaches, parks and nature reserves across Europe are well marked if they do not allow dogs, or require you have them on leads. When we followed the coast from the southern tip of Spain to Brittany, the most dog-friendly areas – with quiet beaches and the fewest dog bans – were in southwest Portugal and northwest Spain. In busier areas around the Algarve and from Lisbon up much of the coast of Portugal, and in the south of France, many beaches don’t allow dogs in summer.
DAY-TO-DAY DOG CARE
The key to you and your dog enjoying a holiday together is ensuring they’re is well cared for, which can take a little more attention and planning when you’re in hot climes and away from home. Firstly, keep them cool; plenty of water, regular dips in the sea or streams, and a small beach tent are the best ways of ensuring your dog doesn’t overheat. It’s also wise to take a good supply of your usual dog food, as dogs can be susceptible to changes in diet, and ensure your dog only eats what you feed him. It’s important that the pooch has a comfortable, well-ventilated place to stay – not usually a problem if you’ve got accommodation, but if travelling in campervan it can take a little more thought. If in a van, have plenty of ventilation, reflective window covers and curtains, so the interior stays cool even on the hottest days. Finally, as well as taking regular stops and making sure your dog is well exercised, pack plenty of poop bags, a spare collar, a dog brush and a couple of blankets or towels.
COMING BACK INTO THE UK
Current regulations stipulate that your dog must have received vet-administered tapeworm treatment between 24 and 120 hours before arriving back into the UK. If you do not have your pet passport updated with proof of the correct treatment, or your microchip can’t be scanned, you jeopardise your dog’s re-entry to the country. Brittany Ferries supplies a list of vets close to its ports, but it can be easier (and cheaper) to find a local vet in a town you are passing through a few days before leaving. If you are concerned about getting your dog treated (or your language skills to make an appointment), you can use a third party (for a fee) to arrange the correct treatment.