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Travelling with your pets

Being a nation of animal lovers, many of us enjoy sharing our holidays with our four-legged friends. Travelling with pets can be fun, but you need to be prepared…

Being a nation of animal lovers, many of us enjoy sharing our holidays with our four-legged friends. When you take your pet on holiday with you, it’s likely that you’ll have to spend just as much time preparing them for the trip as you do yourself! This forward planning will ensure your holiday goes smoothly, and your pet stays happy and healthy.

What to pack

As well as all their bedding, blankets, towels, toys, food and treats, you need to get things like their documentation and medication together. It’s also important to make sure that you stock up on some travelling essentials for your pet, as long journeys can be demanding, so you need to make everything as comfortable as possible for them.

Together with everything they need from day-to-day, there are a few things that you need to take care of before you go on holiday with your dog:

  • A permanent and up to date microchip.
  • An up-to-date vaccination card, as well as a rabies vaccination if required.

On holiday with your pet

Keep their routine

Try to keep to their regular routine as much as possible (same walk times, food, toilet breaks).

Feed them the same

Don’t be tempted to change their diet, as a sudden change can cause an upset stomach.

Give them a familiar item

Place it in their bed or where they’ll spend a lot of time to help them feel secure in an unfamiliar place.

Give them time to explore

They will want to familiarise themselves with their new surroundings and explore.

Don’t leave them alone

Especially for any length of time that might cause them distress, as they are in unfamiliar surroundings.

Let them rest

During all the fun and excitement of the holiday they need lots of time to rest undisturbed in a quiet, comfortable space.

Where to travel to?


The UK is a very dog-friendly place – travelling with your dog has never been easier and the UK is full of stunning beaches, brilliant walking territory and cosy pubs to explore. There are several things to consider while you’re planning your staycation with your pet:

  • Location – there really is a holiday for everyone, however choosing where to travel with your dog will depend a lot on their personality and breed. A lot of dogs love the beach, while some much prefer mountainous hikes or trail walks, and others would rather lounge around in a shaded garden all day.
  • Accommodation – check what the rules are around staying with your pets. Some places are just dog tolerant, whilst others are warmly, ear-scratchingly welcoming! Some allow just one dog to stay, while others allow multiple. Some ask that you don’t allow your dog on the furniture and others don’t mind. It’s always best to check the house rules so you can ensure where you’re booking is right for you all.
  • Entertainment – what will you do when you arrive? It’s important to plan some activities you know you will enjoy together, including places to eat.

Holidaying abroad

When travelling with your pet what you need to do will depend on what country you’re going to. There are different rules for travelling with your pet to an EU country or Northern Ireland and for taking your pet to a non-EU country.

For more information, read the Government’s guide to taking your pet abroad, or call the Pet Travel Scheme helpline on 0370 241 1710.

Travelling with your pets to European Countries & Northern Ireland

Pet passports are no longer valid. You’ll need a new Animal Health Certificate (AHC) from your vet for each journey you make to Europe or Northern Ireland – whether your pet has travelled there before or not.

You’ll need to take your pet to the vet to get the certificate. This needs to be done no more than 10 days before you travel. You should plan well in advance, as vets can get very busy and may not be able to fit in appointments at short notice. Book your appointment today!

To qualify for an AHC, pets must:

  • Be microchipped.
  • Be vaccinated for rabies a minimum of 21 days prior to travel.
  • Be a minimum of 12 weeks old.
Dog travelling in car

Travel tips

Before you hit the road, it’s important to be aware of what you should and should not do when it comes to travelling safely.

Here are our top tips for travelling pets:
1. Before you set off ensure your pet is used to and settled when travelling in the car by taking them on shorter journeys regularly. Comfortable blankets and a toy or chew can help to keep them occupied and relaxed when you’re on the move.
2. Ensure you have a safe space for your pet to travel in within the car, for example a crate. Pheromone spray can be great for your dog’s carrier, and if you use it a few hours before travelling it can make them feel a lot calmer.
3. It’s very easy for pets to overheat in the car so good ventilation is essential. Consider buying a solar shade for the windows to shield your pet from the sun.
4. Plan regular rest stops on your journey.
5. Ensure your pet has access to fresh water at all times.
6. Avoid walking your dog in the heat of the day in hot climates.
7. Avoid your pet being outside between dusk and dawn as this is when sand flies are most active.

Dog being vaccinated

Protecting your pet

When travelling with our pets they may be exposed to diseases which are not found in the UK (exotic diseases). Your pet will need to be vaccinated against diseases we don’t have in the UK, including rabies. If your pet hasn’t previously travelled, or their rabies vaccination is out of date, you’ll need to visit your vet at least 21 days before travel. Your pet must be at least 12 weeks old to get the rabies vaccination. After the rabies vaccination, you cannot travel for 21 days.

You’ll also need to microchip your pet as this is the best chance of returning your pet to you if it gets lost.

Your pet will also need a tapeworm treatment if you’re travelling to:
• Ireland
• Northern Ireland
• Finland
• Malta
• Norway

Your pet will need an appointment for this treatment between 24 hours and five days before you arrive in that country. You may be able to get this done when you get the Animal Health Certificate if the timings allow.

Pet insurance

Before you travel abroad you should also consider pet insurance. This can cover you for things such as your travel and accommodation should you have to cancel or cut short your holiday because of your dog becoming ill or injured.

Pet insurance also covers for things such as emergency repatriation should you need to make special arrangements to get your pet home if they pass away, become ill, or get injured during a trip.

Should you take your pet?

Holidays are a great way to spend time with your pet, but not all pets will like the change and may not have as much fun as you will. It’s important to consider whether to take your pet on holiday or leave them in the care of a responsible person, to keep them happy and stress-free. If your pet really doesn’t like travelling, then it could be worth considering whether it’s kinder for them to stay at home.

Many pets will find the change in routine, environment and travelling stressful, so you’ll need to decide what’s best for them. Cats, rabbits, and small animals who aren’t familiar with travelling and visiting new places shouldn’t be taken on holiday, because the experience is likely to be too stressful for them.

For pets that love a holiday, preparing to travel with them can seem like there’s a lot of work, but it’s all going to be worth it when you can share your memorable holiday experiences with your pet. By preparing properly, following the latest advice and information will ensure your adventure with your four-legged friends runs smoothly.