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Dog in boot

For many of us a holiday just wouldn't be complete without our pets, but there are some important points to consider before you set off.

Although rules and etiquette will vary from country to country, some things are worth bearing in mind wherever you travel with a pet.

For instance, it's vital to know where to find your local vet and book an appointment in advance of your return journey. There are Government regulations that you must follow before your pet can re-enter the UK.


Although the rules have made it easier to travel outside the UK with your pet, it's important to check with your vet that your pet has had the proper parasite protection.

Leishmania, a type of parasitic disease, is rife in counties such as Spain and Portugal, so make sure your pet has had the right vaccination. Unfortunately, you need to do this at least 10 weeks before you travel. And of course, all the usual UK recommended shots protect your pet when abroad too.

Your vet should have a record of when these were last done.

Seat belts and car safety

If you're driving abroad, it’s worth remembering that seat belts are not just for human beings. If you have a car accident, your animal could be thrown through the window. Safety belts, similar to harnesses that go around the animal’s body, have a clip that goes into the car seatbelt socket, ensuring your pet is safe.

These are generally available at your local pet shop. It might be worth practising a few short trips with this on, just to get your pet familiar with it on home territory first.

A new car and a new safety belt at the same time could test any animal’s patience. In some countries, it is illegal to allow your dog to sit in the front passenger seat. If you aren’t sure, it’s wiser to make it sit at the back, and of course, your pet can stretch out a bit more too.

Out and about

two dogs in a bag, copyright civ33 on flickr, Aug 2012In Western Europe, well-behaved dogs are usually allowed in restaurants, particularly in France. However, there is always the exception to the rule, and it’s worth enquiring before you go in or book. There are times when pet owners have been surprised when more simple eateries have made pets wait outside, whereas some chic restaurants have welcomed pets with open arms.

As in Britain, dogs are only allowed on popular, foreign beaches at certain times of the year, particularly at peak periods. Do check, as you could get a fine.

Keeping cool

If your animal will be in an enclosed space, make sure there's enough ventilation and shade. This is true wherever and however you travel. If you're going by car, you might consider buying solar blinds for the windows; they can make your pet much more comfortable.

It goes without saying that it’s important that they have access to plenty of fresh water. Just as with humans in a heat stroke situation, putting a towel that has been immersed in cold water on their body will bring down their temperature. Small animals often enjoy and benefit from having small bottles of frozen water near or by their bodies if it’s hot.

PDSA animal wellbeing report

PDSA animal wellbeing report

Julie Banks speaks to PDSA vet Paul Manktelow about the charity’s animal wellbeing report and how we can help ensure our pets stay happy and healthy during 2014.

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Travelling by boat

If part of your journey is by ship, you are often obliged to leave your animal in the car. Make sure you provide water. Several ferry lines also have kennels particularly on the longer crossings.

For anyone travelling by Stena Lines, which have overnight crossings from Harwich to the Hook of Holland, flat screen televisions are available in the cabins. Owners can tune into the Kennel Channel to keep an eye on their pets during the voyage.

On their Portsmouth to Santander and Bilbao routes, Brittany Ferries allow pets in their pet-friendly cabins, which need to be booked in advance.

Travelling by plane

Not all airlines can transport live animals in and out of the UK. Even when they do, the animal, unless it is an assistance dog, will be relegated to the hold.

If you're unsure about anything regarding the welfare of your pet, don’t hesitate to ask your vet, or more probably the practice nurse, who is likely to be well versed on the subject. And the company you are travelling with should be able to advise you too.

For more information about taking your pet abroad, visit GOV.UK or call the Pet Travel Scheme helpline on 0370 241 1710.

This article is brought to you by Silver Travel Advisor.

Further information

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 2081