Taking your dog on holiday

Terrier sat atop hill

Some say the key to happiness is to always have a holiday booked. That little buzz you get when a holiday booking confirmation drops into your inbox? If only you could bottle it. Most people find arranging holidays a relatively simple process, and one that fills them with excitement. For dog owners, there’s more to think about than just taking time off work.

How easy is it to take a dog on holiday?

When it comes down to it, the question should be: should you take your dog on holiday with you? There’s no clear-cut answer to what seems like a simple question. It’s a thought that crosses every dog owner’s mind, and often leads to more questions before an answer can be found. If you find yourself in such a pickle, ask yourself:

  • Could you face leaving your dog behind?
  • Is your holiday destination suitable for your furry friend?
  • Does your pet insurance cover your pet for travel?
  • Will your dog find travelling stressful?

You know your four-legged companion best. If your answer to the top 3 questions is ‘no’, or you think your dog will be overwhelmed by travelling, then further thought will be needed.

If you wouldn’t like to leave your dog behind, either in the care of a friend or kennels, make sure to carefully research possible holiday destinations. A holiday with a dog is likely to be easier to navigate in the UK.

Whether you’re planning a weekend break or a longer holiday, a couple of internet searches will reveal whether hotels, caravans, local attractions, and eateries are dog friendly. Then, it’s a matter of preparing your dog for longer car journeys and making sure you pack everything they’ll need for a fun canine holiday with their best friend. After all, taking dogs on holiday gives you a chance to spend quality time with your dog, and they’ll love that!

Before you leave, follow these tips for a safe, enjoyable holiday:

  • Note down emergency contact details for a vet and out of hours service
  • Make sure your dog is wearing a collar with your name, contact details, and the address of your holiday accommodation
  • Check with your vet that your dog is fit and healthy enough for your travel plans
  • Take a few of your dog’s favourite toys and treats with you

Does your dog like going on holiday?

Two weeks soaking up the sun on a beach sounds like heaven, right? Dogs are less likely to agree, as lengthy exposure to the sun can cause anything from sunburn and heat stroke to skin cancer. If you’re likely to spend much of your trip taking extra precautions for your dog, or you think they’ll find the whole experience very stressful, it may be kinder to let them take a break in dog boarding facilities on home soil.

If temperatures are agreeable, your dog will get plenty of water, and there will be lots of opportunities for both exercise and rest, your dog is far more likely to get the most out of a holiday overseas.

Keep your dog happy on holiday

Whilst on holiday with your dog, follow these tips to help keep them happy:

  • Stick to a regular routine when it comes to walks, feeding, and toileting
  • Allow your dog the chance to explore their new surroundings
  • Don’t leave them alone long enough to cause distress
  • Maintain the same diet they enjoy at home to avoid stomach upsets
  • Keep familiar toys in their bed and the living space
  • Give them time to rest and recover from the excitement of new sights, smells, and experiences

Keep your dog safe whilst you’re away

Whilst enjoying yourself, it’s important to take a few precautions that’ll help keep your dog safe:

  • Keep your dog on the lead, unless you’re sure it’s safe to let them loose
  • Add an LED light to your dog’s collar. If temperatures allow, put them in a hi-vis dog jacket
  • Keep an eye on your dog’s behaviour and check for signs of stress, boredom, or illness
  • Don’t leave your dog out in the heat
  • Never leave your dog unaccompanied

What are the rules for travelling with dogs?

The rules for taking a dog abroad vary from country to country, so make sure to do your research on the countries you plan to travel to or come from.

Does my dog need a pet passport?

Pet passports are no longer valid for trips to the EU or Northern Ireland. For each journey you make to Europe or Northern Ireland, an animal health certificate will need to be issued by your vet – regardless of whether your pet has travelled there before or not. Pets must visit the vet for their certificate no more than 10 days before your departure date – so make sure to book their appointment in plenty of time.

Pet passports are still valid if they were issued in an EU country, or Northern Ireland.

If you are travelling from the UK to a country outside the EU with your pet, you’ll need to get an Export Health Certificate (EHC) which checks whether your pet meets that country's requirements. An export application form will also need to be completed – your vet will check and sign the EHC to make sure you have the necessary travel documents.

Vaccinations and microchips

Ask your vet for advice on any diseases we don’t have here in the UK. They’ll be able to give any vaccinations required, including rabies. Your pet needs to be at least 12 weeks old to get their rabies vaccination and can’t travel for 21 days following a vaccination. If your pet’s vaccination is out of date, or they have never travelled before, make sure to visit their vet at least 21 days before your departure date.

If you’re travelling to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Malta, or Norway, your pet will need a tapeworm treatment. This will require an appointment with your vet between 1 – 5 days before you arrive at your destination.

Before your holiday, make sure that your pet is microchipped and that the details stored on it are current. This will improve the chances of your pet being returned to you if they get lost.

Does my dog need to see a vet before returning to the UK?

You may want to take your dog to a vet prior to flying back to the UK so that they may be approved for travel. This will help to avoid your pet being placed in quarantine, either here in the UK or the country you’re travelling home from. Placing your dog in quarantine will be stressful for both owner and their dog(s), so is best avoided where possible.

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Our cover can be offered for puppies and kittens from five weeks old and can include vet fees for illness and injury up to £7,500, as well as ongoing cover for eligible new illnesses. Existing conditions won’t be covered.

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