A full travel checklist to take your dog on holiday
It can be a great joy taking your pooch on holiday. Any dog lover knows how quickly our four-legged friends become part of the family, so going away without them isn’t easy.
At present, the UK is part of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), which allows canines with Pet Passports to travel freely within the EU and a multitude of other listed counties.
It’s uncertain whether this will stand when Britain leaves the EU, so it’s essential to refer to the government website before booking any trips, as pet travel requirements may change.
Should you travel to unlisted countries, your dog will still need specific certifications, so make sure you check the rules in your chosen destination, before setting out.
You can take all the necessary precautions before your trip, but you can never rule out the chance of illness or accidents abroad, which is why quality dog insurance is vital.
Here at Go Get It, we understand that each dog is different.
We compare pet insurance quotes from leading pet insurers, comparing the best possible cover for you and your pooch, suited to your individual needs and budget – many of our insurers offer overseas pet travel cover, too.
We want you and your pooch to have the holiday you deserve, which is why we’ve compiled this handy holiday checklist to consult before you travel.
Do dogs like holidays?
Just like people, different dogs have different preferences.
Rescue pups may find travel away from home highly stressful, while age, temperament and breed all play a role, too.
Your dog may be too old to endure the hardship of travel or hot climates; a favourite furball may simply have a nervous disposition; puppies are unlikely to be ready for such an alien experience.
In cases such as these, keeping pets on familiar territory is best.
You know your dog best, so consider what would suit them more – coming away with you or staying with a trustworthy, dependable person.
Many canines thrive on new scents, sights and environments, so there’s no reason a happy, healthy and well-adjusted pooch wouldn’t love a tropical vacation.
No matter what, never travel without reliable cover – compare pet insurance before you go to see how much you could save.
What do I need to take my dog on vacation?
Before you fly off to explore a new destination with your pup, you’ll need to obtain a Pet Passport. To qualify, your dog must be 12 weeks of age, at a minimum.
Specific registered vets can issue Pet Passports, so even if your usual vet can’t, they’ll be able to recommend someone else who can.
The passport will set you back around £200 and is valid for their lifetime – for now. It will contain a photo of your adorable pooch, as well as proof they meet the PETS health requirements.
Pet Passport requirements, as stated by the Blue Cross:
- A rabies jab given at least 21 days before your UK return date
- A microchip
- Tapeworm treatment, given 24-120 hours before your UK return date
- A photograph of your pet
- Up-to-date vaccinations
You can only travel on approved transport routes with your pooch, so make sure you take a look before planning your journey.
Also ensure your travel company accepts pets, as some do not.
Similarly, some travel companies stipulate that pets must be caged in a specific way or meet specific requirements, so check this, too, early on in your planning.
Assistance dogs will still need Pet Passports, but certain rules vary. For example, assistance dogs may travel in the main cabin with their owners.
If your pet’s passport fails to meet regulations, you may need to leave your furry friend behind, so double check you’ve ticked every box before travelling.
It’s important to note, the timeframe stipulated for canine tapeworm treatments means you’ll need to get this administered during your trip.
It needs to be given by a vet, who will need to sign your pooch’s Pet Passport, so make sure this will be possible, or your return home could be impacted.
Get your vet to issue your canine with a ‘fitness to travel’ certificate – another requirement some travel companies may have.
If you’re travelling to an unlisted country (one that’s not included in PETS), a Pet Passport may be insufficient.
They may require a third-country official veterinary certificate, so check this as well.
Remember, post-Brexit these requirements may well change, so don’t book anything before checking the latest updates on pet travel rules.
A pre-holiday doggy date with the vet is also a must, as you want to ensure your pooch is in optimum health before setting off.
Check you have adequate supplies of any medications your dog needs.
Your vet will recommend preventative parasite treatments – if you’ll be away for more than a couple of weeks, you’ll likely need to bring top-ups along.
Don’t forget to attach an identity tag to your dog’s collar, listing your name, contact details and holiday address.
Losing your dog abroad is twice as stressful, as you’re not in familiar territory, so a simple identity tag can be a real lifesaver.
Make sure you’re staying somewhere dog friendly, equipped to handle canine needs – most importantly, they should have an emergency veterinary contact.
Inform them your four-legged friend will be in tow, and check what facilities they offer - bring any essential items they can’t provide.
Ideally, pick a place with ample dog-walking grounds, otherwise both you and your pooch will be inconvenienced.
If you’re going to a country where the temperature climbs sky-high, make sure your accommodation has air-con and will be cool enough for your canine – heat stroke can be deadly.
Bring a few familiar things with you, to comfort your pooch. A blanket, favourite treats and toys will help them settle in.
See if there are any nearby dog-friendly places or activities – you’re not the only one on vacation, after all!
Can you take your dog on holiday to America?
If you plan on taking your pooch outside the EU, it’s best to double-check your chosen destination’s pet travel rules.
For example, the USA allows dogs to enter the country providing they appear healthy and, dependent on the country they’re travelling from, can show a valid rabies vaccination certificate.
Once you’re there
Upon arrival, there are plenty of things you can do to help homesick pups:
- Maintain their usual routine as best you can
- Don’t make sudden changes to their diet
- Let your dog get acquainted with their new surroundings
- Don’t leave them alone for long periods of time
- Place familiar items in their bed to help them feel safe and secure
- Give your pooch plenty of time to rest in a quiet, calm place – holidays can be chaotic!
You may be on holiday, but make sure you stay on the ball, safety-wise.
Follow these top 3 safety tips:
- Closely observe your pooch’s demeanour – a change in behaviour could indicate illness or stress.
- Keep your dog on a lead when out walking, unless you’re sure it’s safe to let them off and there are no potential hazards around.
- Never leave your dog somewhere unsafe, for example: tied up in front of a shop or in a hire car in hot weather.
A new environment means new risks, so keep a close eye on your furry friend’s activities when out and about.
Some pooches are rather chew-happy, so watch out for them chowing down on potentially poisonous plants or street debris.
If you fail to follow regulations before returning home to the UK, you may run into trouble when you land on UK soil. Your pooch may be quarantined for a maximum of four months.
This is another reason to avoid travelling with older or anxious pets. Dogs with less than optimal mental or physical health are unlikely to adapt well if quarantined.
What do I pack for a long UK road trip with my dog?
If your dog is a happy traveller, there’s no need to give him/her medication for long road trips within the UK.
Make sure you have everything you need for a safe, successful holiday before you set off, though.
Planning is key so your checklist should include things like:
Food and water
Changing your pet’s food just because you’re on holiday is a big no-no.
This could cause tummy upsets while you’re away and ruin the break for both you and your pet. Stock up on their regular food, snacks and treats before you go.
Crates and beds
Giving your pooch a safe, familiar place to lay their head is essential for making them feel secure when they’re in unfamiliar territory.
Take their normal crate or bed with you on holiday so they can feel at home.
Collar and tags
Make sure you have a collar and ID tags for your dog before you go anywhere new – that way, if they do run off while you’re out exploring a new place, there’s a higher chance of them being found.
Compare pet insurance with Go Get It and find a policy that includes cover for accidents and injuries.
Safety harness for the car
You should always secure your dog while they’re travelling in a car.
They could get injured if they’re not secured and you have an accident or are forced to brake suddenly.
There are many harnesses, crates and guards available online, so research these before you travel.
Also think about using window shades to protect your pooch from the glare of the sun if you’re travelling in the warmer months.
Just because you’re on holiday, that doesn’t mean you get time off from cleaning up after your pooch!
Make sure you pack plenty of poop bags especially if you have to make an unscheduled roadside stop.
First aid kit
You never know what’s going to happen when you’re out and about exploring the great outdoors, so pack a first aid kit – it might come in handy for both you and your pooch.
Tweezers, bandages, eyewash and scissors are all recommended and styptic powder can help stop bleeding from superficial cuts.
Long road trips can get a bit boring for your canine friend, so keep them occupied with some toys and treats in the car.
You might want to avoid any noisy toys, though, especially if you’ve got a long way to go!
Reward good behaviour at your new location with treats – new places can be a bit overwhelming, so don’t be too surprised if your dog needs a little encouragement to behave like normal.
How to spot signs of travel sickness in dogs
It goes without saying that you should pull over regularly for canine toilet and water breaks if you’re on a long road trip.
Plan your route ahead of time so you have motorway services or large open areas where you and your pup can stretch your legs.
If you think travel sickness might be an issue for your pup, you can talk to your vet about a prescription for anti-sickness medication.
Some of the common signs that your dog might be suffering from travel sickness include:
- Lifelessness and inactivity
- Excessive yawning or panting
- Obvious fear of cars
Travelling with older dogs
While adopting an older pet can be highly rewarding, if you’re an avid globetrotter it’s best to consider a younger pet instead.
An older pooch is likely more fragile, and may have health issues.
Travelling is stressful enough for dogs, so it wouldn’t be fair to expect it of an older dog.
Adopted pets may have been rehomed multiple times – some have endured incredibly traumatic experiences.
They may suffer from separation anxiety, so isolation in a plane’s cargo hold will likely do more harm than good.
It’s important to consider all of this before adopting an older pet. They may need expensive medical treatments as well.
Go Get It works with specialist pet insurers, finding reliable, trusted cover for pets young and old.
Providing an older dog with a safe and loving home can be a wonderful experience.
A rehomed pooch will likely shower their owner with love, and a strong bond with develop.
Unlike puppies, they’re likely to be fully-trained, with more balanced temperaments and less demanding tendencies.
Stay safe on your travels
Whether you’re travelling with a pooch or a pussycat, make sure you’re both protected with dependable pet insurance.
You can be the most diligent owner around, but pet accidents and illnesses can and do occur.
A vacation abroad means unfamiliar surroundings – you can’t pop up the road to your local vet if something goes wrong.
Our pet insurance cover can include things like:
- Cover from £1,000 up to £15,000 per year
- Emergency boarding
- Special diets
- Complementary medicine
- Range of cover levels from Accident Only to Lifetime Cover
- Third Party Legal Liability (Dogs only) up to 2 million
Go Get It can save you time and money, finding the right cover for your pet and your budget. Don’t risk travelling without protection, get a quote today.