For a long time, the idea of travelling abroad with your pet dog was not something many owners contemplated. Quarantine laws and different national legislations made foreign travel too daunting to think about, and with limited options within the UK, many families would have to leave their pets at home or in kennels.
Nowadays, the situation has improved drastically, with plenty more dog friendly breaks
and thanks to advances in vaccinations, and more enlightened attitudes to pet travel by national governments, taking your dog with you when you go abroad is much more practical. For thousands of dog owners, this cuts out the trauma of being parted from your beloved pet for any length of time.
If you are travelling abroad with your dog, however, there are still some important things to bear in mind.
Let’s dive straight in…
1. Pet Passports
Since a change in the law in 2012, obtaining a pet passport is much easier than it used to be. These are now issued by vets, who are suitably licensed as Local Veterinary Inspectors (LVI). If your vet does not have this authorisation, they will be able to tell you of local LVIs in your area.
When visiting an LVI with your dog, make sure you take along it’s up to date vaccination records. These will help you fill in the first four sections of the passport. If you are taking your dog to a country whose passport scheme is not recognised by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), your dog will need a blood test. This is ordered to fill in Section V of the pet passport.
Well before you travel, check DAERA's classification of listed and unlisted countries. This could save both you and your dog a lot of time, and possibly stress, later.
Two essential vaccinations your dog must have before you travel are against rabies and tapeworm. There is a 21 day expiry period on rabies vaccinations, so if you will be returning from abroad after that time, your dog will need to be re-vaccinated while you are away. Keep the details of this in your pet passport.
When recording your dog's vaccinations, it's essential to note the following:
• Microchip number, date of insertion and physical location in your dog.
• Your dog's age and date of birth
• The name of the actual vaccine product
• Date of vaccination
• Vaccination product batch number.
3. The Journey Itself
The journey itself is likely to be the most stressful of your trip abroad with your dog. Of course, you will know your dog's temperament better than anyone, but it is very common for dogs to become worried during long journeys. If you are using a few modes of transport, this will add to the unusual situations your dog faces.
This will mean you need to safely restrain your pet, as well as making it as comfortable as possible. To help you do this, remember these essentials when travelling:
• Dog carrier
• Carrier seat belt restraint
• Car safety harness
• Pet travel water bottle
• Dog Travel-eze tablets
4. For When You Get There
When you get to your new destination, your dog will be in an unfamiliar situation. For this reason, the more at-home you can make it feel, the better. Also, you will need your dog's collar, leash and identity tag, just as you would at home. Remember to pack your dog's own blankets, bedding, towels and grooming equipment. You'll be able to use these in the same routine you do at home.
You should also take plenty of food and water. Just as with humans, the water in foreign countries is not always of the same quality we take for granted at home. You will be able to source water after you arrive but take a reasonable amount with you.
In terms of food, the best way to provide nutrition for your dog when abroad is with a range of fish-based products. From wet complete to sea jerky and other treats, you can be sure your pet maintains the best of health while you are abroad. This means its coat, skin, joints, omega3 levels, and energy. All of these will help your dog enjoy its time abroad and return home healthy.
5. Different Climates
When travelling abroad, it always pays to bear in mind the climate in that country, what are the best times of year to go, and when to absolutely avoid. Whereas humans can add and take off layers of clothing, dogs can't.
If you have a breed of dog which is suited to cold weather, taking it to a hot country in the summer is a bad idea. Similarly, short haired dogs won't be able to maintain their body temperature in very cold countries.
Unless you want to confine your dog to air-conditioned buildings while it's abroad, think carefully about which countries you visit.
6. Air Travel
Many air companies are happy to have their customers take their pets with them. To do this, however, they require pet owners to follow very strict guidelines. There are safety reasons for this, not to mention the effect of being on an aeroplane may have on your dog's emotions. Remember; unless you have an assistance dog, your pet will travel in the plane's hold area.
As well as the flight itself, getting to, from and around airports is more stressful for dogs than people, which is saying something. Being confined in its carrier in your car, then walking through extremely crowded terminals is likely to worry your dog considerably.
The best way to avoid undue stress for your pet, and yourself, is to book direct flights, and use airports which are as close to your home and final destination. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has helpful resources on rules and good practice for taking your dog by air.
7. Medicines and First Aid
If your dog has a long-standing condition, or is sensitive to certain substances, make sure you take the appropriate medication with you. Also, take a dog first aid kit. If you don't already have one of these, it's a good idea to prepare one anyway. Removing ticks, and dealing with irritated eyes, are just a couple of ways you could help your dog when you're abroad. Remember, veterinary facilities might not be up to the standard you're used to at home.