Including a free downloadable packing list!
1. Vaccinations & Parasite Treatments
Visit your vet at least four months before travel abroad to make sure that your dog is up to date with all vaccinations and the most suitable parasite (worm, flea, tick, sandfly & mosquito) treatment for your destination, be that at home or abroad. This will help to keep your dog healthy and avoid emergencies while on the road.
2. Get Them Used to Travel
- Road Travel – Slowly get your dog used to your chosen mode of transport well ahead of time – be it the car or travel crate, so that he will be comfortable and calm on the trip. You could feed him in the car for a few weeks ahead of the trip to give him positive associations. (See Driving with Dogs; 10 Tips for Happy Hounds)
- Ferries & Eurotunnel – We travel overland and favour ferries with pet-friendly cabins (which need to be booked well in advance!) so that we can all stay together on the journey. Alternatively, everyone stays in the car for the half-hour crossing to Calais on Eurotunnel.
- Air Travel – Some airlines allow one small dog (usually under 8kg) in the cabin, but most treat dogs as freight, to be carried in the hold. Air travel may be problematic for short-nosed dogs. Contact the airline to find out the type and specification of crate they will require for your dog to travel. Note that if your dog is anxious, some sedatives are not permitted by airlines due to safety concerns.
3. Tire Them Out Before Departure
A good walk before you set out will help your dog to sleep through a long journey.
4. Plan Comfort Breaks
Make sure that you schedule in sufficient stops for a leg stretch and pee poo. The website Driving with Dogs lists walks near motorways in the UK, France and Ireland. Abroad, natural ‘Aires’ or rest areas on many motorways are suitable for a short break.
Make sure that clean, cool drinking water is always available. We use a Road Refresher non-spill water bowl which is excellent both in the car and out, since it also reduces slobber and prevents soggy Spaniel ears! Use bottled water if you’re unsure of the water quality.
- Feed your dog at least an hour before you set off, so that he is not sick.
- We have food accessible if we are likely to be travelling during feeding time or in case we are delayed, although we avoid feeding during the journey and while the vehicle is in motion if possible.
- For short trips, you can take as much food as you need. In Western Europe, we have found most major food brands, such as Royal Canin or Eukanuba are readily available in supermarkets, although we frequently order our pups’ favourite food online from the local Zooplus or Amazon and have it delivered to our destination.
- Post Brexit, with very few exceptions, you cannot take pet food into the EU, except in small quantities (2kg) and ONLY if it is for medical reasons.
7. BasicPet First Aid Kit
Your vet will be able to advise on the contents. Check that everything is in date before departure. Pawly Pet First Aid Kit contains many (not all!) of the items below in a useful waterproof bag.
- O’tom Tick Twister tick removal tool
- Hibiscrub clorhexidine antiseptic for cleaning cuts and grazes
- Activon manuka honey natural antiseptic cream
- Styptic powder to stop bleeding
- Wound dressings
- Cohesive bandages, which do not stick to fur
- Cotton wool pads
- Disposable recyclable gloves
- Surosolve ear drops, since Ruby and Rosie are prone to ear infections (prescription only)
- Suitable prescription flea, worm & tick treatment, plus mosquito & sandfly protection for some destinations
8. Entry Requirements When Travelling Abroad
If you are travelling abroad, check the entry requirements for the countries that you wish to visit. The Pet Travel website lists the entry requirements for most countries in the world.
- Banned Breeds – Note that certain breeds, mostly fighting breeds, although this can include Staffies, are banned from entering or even crossing some countries, so check this out beforehand.
- To return to the UK – a tapeworm (echinococcus) treatment must be administered and recorded correctly in the Pet Passport or Animal Health Certificate between 1 and 5 days before departure or the dog will not be permitted to enter the country. See my post Travelling from the UK to Europe & Back with Dogs for more details.
- Finding a Vet Abroad – Driving with Dogs and the websites for ferry companies eg Brittany Ferries and Eurotunnel list vets close to the crossing points who can administer the tapeworm treatment. Some note whether the vets speak English.
9. Travel Paperwork & Pet Passports
Visit your vet WELL AHEAD OF DEPARTURE, since it may take four months (or more if your dog fails some of the tests) to get all the tests and paperwork in order. Your vet can also advise on the most suitable protective treatments for the different strains of parasites that you may encounter abroad, against which your dog may have no immunity.
Post Brexit, the UK/EU Pet Passport is no longer valid and an Animal Health Certificate is required to travel to the EU. For further details, see IMPORTANT POST BREXIT PET TRAVEL UPDATE.
10. Check Out Rules & Hazards Specific to your Destination
For example, were you aware;
- That the spines from pine processionary caterpillars found across Europe can be fatal to your dog, even if the caterpillar is nowhere to be seen?
- That some countries do not recognise a 3-year rabies jab and require a booster after 1 year?
- That a rabies blood titer test may be required in addition to the vaccine for some countries?
- Or the hazards of the hunting season when trigger happy hunters and traps are out and about?
- That dogs are not allowed on many beaches or in European National Parks, even on leads?
- That muzzles are often required on public transport or on the ferry?
- That you can’t walk your dog and could be arrested and have your dog impounded if you have it in your car as you drive through Tehran?
A little research goes a long way to ensuring happy and incident-free travel! See my post Killer Caterpillars, Gunmen & ‘Chien Interdit!’ – 10 Things you Need to Know About Taking your Dog to France! for more information on some of the specifics above.
Click here for my blog about packing for dogs with links to the relevant products.