Expensive kennels and the idea of leaving them with a stranger mean that more tourists than ever before are thinking of taking their dogs on holiday with them.
Over the past year, European holiday specialists Eurocamp saw more than 30,000 people visit its website looking for pet-friendly holidays and advice on taking their dogs on holiday.
Taking dogs abroad can take a lot of anticipation, but if organized properly, it can be a rewarding and memorable experience.
To help more dogs reunite with their families over the holidays, Eurocamp has partnered with an online pet health resource cat the vet to explain what to do and what not to do.
Cat explained: “Dogs are our family, so it makes sense to include them on our family vacations if we know they will have as much fun as we do.
“Just plan ahead and choose a fabulous dog destination to create memories that will last forever.
“As helpful as these tips are, there are other factors to consider before traveling with your dog. These tips are some of the things you should know and consider when traveling, but you should always check the website of the government of the country you are visiting to make sure you are abiding by their rules.”
This is what she had to say.
Places you can drive to are your best bet when looking for a vacation with your pet. Air travel involves a lot of red tape and expense, which is often not worth it when you take a break for a week or two.
Technically, all of Europe is within your reach, but when you go on holiday with pets, we have to be practical with the distances and time we spend on the road, especially if it is the first time you have taken them with you.
In addition to the destination, make sure the resort and accommodation you’re staying at are suitable. Around 70% of Eurocamp’s accommodation offer welcomes dogs and, as many of them are in France, they are only a short drive away for their first holidays. Its most popular dog park is La Croix du Vieux Pont, just a two and a half hour drive from Calais.
All dogs traveling to Europe need a microchip that has been confirmed to be working by their vet and must be vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before leaving the UK. How often the rabies should be repeated will depend on the country you are visiting, so it is important that you check this and keep them up to date.
Also, in most EU countries your dog must wear a collar with your contact details.
Failure to abide by these rules may result in your dog being denied entry into the country.
Now that we have left the EU, the passports our dogs used to be able to travel with are no longer valid. To enter Europe, a veterinarian must issue a Zoosanitary Certificate.
These must be completed no more than 10 days before departure and are valid for four months of onward travel in the EU and back to the UK. You can only travel once with each certificate, so even if you’re lucky enough to have another vacation booked four months from now, you’ll still need a new AHC.
The forms usually cost around £150 each and you’ll need to know your country of entry, travel arrangements and the named person who will be traveling with your pet.
A vet is required to complete these forms for you, and you can use your own vet or a dedicated vet that has been established solely to issue AHCs (these are most often found in port cities and can usually be found by googling). They will need access to your records from your regular vet, which you will need to give permission for, and you will need to visit them before you travel, so factor this into your plans.
In some EU countries, particularly France, the dog breeds we know and love in the UK are considered dangerous and therefore banned or subject to significant restrictions. This mostly applies to the types of Rottweilers and Staffies that could be considered Pitbulls and Mastiff breeds.
They may be prevented from entering or you may be fined when you are there, so it is very important to make sure your breed is not listed.
It’s now illegal to import meat or meat products into the EU, which means you won’t be able to take your dog’s regular food or treats with you. The only circumstances in which a dog diet would be allowed is if it is for medical purposes (confirmed by a letter from your vet) and even then only a maximum of 2kg is allowed, it must be commercially prepared and does not require refrigeration or freezing .
One option is to travel with a bag of vegan or vegetarian dog food to get you through the trip and then buy regular dog food as soon as you can. If your dog has a sensitive tummy and you’re concerned that he might be upset by a new food, consider asking your vet for probiotics to help him through the switch.
Many brands available in the UK are also on sale in Europe, so if you don’t want to change your food you can always make sure they are fed before you cross the border and then buy more food when you get to the other side.
You’re probably aware of the requirement to visit a vet before returning to the UK to have your dog dewormed, but it’s also important to keep your dog protected while you’re away. There are some serious diseases that are transmitted by parasites like mosquitoes, sandflies, and ticks that we don’t have in this country.
The correct treatment will vary depending on where in Europe you are going, so ask your vet for advice and get a good idea of the vets in the area you are visiting.
Your dog won’t need as many holiday outfits as you do, but there will still be plenty to pack for them.
Remember your collar, leash, and harness if you wear one. Take their bed or at least a blanket that smells like home, as this should really help them settle into a new environment. Towels are also a good idea if they are water babies. Things like food and water bowls are helpful, as are favorite toys. I can also recommend a kong or lickimat if you have them.
Again, these can be great for relaxing and distracting your dog both on the road and during those lovely vacation nights! And don’t forget the poop bags! They are vital!
If your dog takes medications regularly, it’s sensible to have proof that your vet has prescribed them. An invoice or a prescription should be enough, but it is very important that he check the individual rules of the country he is traveling to. Also, pay attention to the storage requirements that medications have, many must be kept at specific temperatures to be effective.
This information should be included on the data sheet that comes with the package.
Likewise, plan ahead to make sure you know what to do if your pet needs veterinary care while you’re away. Take note of local surgeries and check that your pet or vacation insurance covers veterinary bills incurred abroad.
Having your dog properly restrained in a car is not only a legal requirement, in the event of an accident it could save both you and your pet’s life.
Some dogs prefer to be in a seat with a seat belt and harness, but others find it stressful to be able to see out the windows and are much calmer in the trunk.
However, if they ride in the back of the car, pay attention to the temperature there. On warm days it can rise quite quickly, especially since the air conditioning often doesn’t get there well in many vehicles. Cool mats, fans, and regular breaks can help, but for some dogs and some cars, traveling for long trips in the trunk isn’t practical or safe.
Have snacks and water on hand for both the ride and breaks.
Regular breaks are vital when traveling with pets, but how often they need to be depends largely on your dog. Some will need a break every two hours, others will need more time. They may be napping at a time when you had planned to stop and you may decide to leave them, but you’ll need to be ready to stop when they wake up!
Knowing many possible rest stops that are safe for your dog to get out and stretch their legs and being flexible is key.
For those traveling to Europe, Eurotunnel is an option for crossing the channel with your dog, as it only takes 35 minutes and you can all stay together in the car. They also have dedicated exercise areas to use before boarding and complimentary poop bags.
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