How to Travel with Your Dog30 May 2023
Reviewed by Dr Jill McMaster BVM&S MBA MRCVS, Veterinary Surgeon and in-house expert at BorrowMyDoggy on 12 June 2023
Dogs can make fantastic travel companions, but taking them away on holiday does take a little extra planning, especially if you’re going abroad or getting on a plane.
The trick to travelling with your dog is to stay organised, plan ahead and take heed of a few simple tips.
- Travelling abroad or to Northern Ireland with your pup?
- Time to brush up on your training?
- Dog friendly holiday research
- Dog-friendly accommodations
- Dog friendly activities on holiday
- Local vet
- Protect your four-pawed pal with adequate insurance
- What to pack for your dog on holiday
- Stay hydrated and well fed
- Car travel with a dog
- Taking the train with your dog
- Travelling with your dog on a plane
Before you leave on holiday
Travelling abroad or to Northern Ireland with your pup?
Whether flying, sailing or driving, taking your pet abroad can be a great adventure. But you have to make sure your dog has the right paperwork to travel.
Post-Brexit, travelling to Europe has changed and now every UK pet will need at least a microchip, a rabies vaccine and an Animal Health Certificate to travel into Europe or Northern Ireland from mainland UK.
Your vet should be able to assist.
If you are taking your pet to a different country this summer, check the UK government website regularly where you can get more advice.
Also be sure to check with the government website of where you are travelling to. Pet travel companies can also be useful to work with for this kind of information.
Wherever you are travelling, get yourself along to the vets well in advance of your trip – they’ll help you with all of this but remember it could take a minimum of 4 months for first-time travellers to get all the necessary documents, so there’s no such thing as getting in touch with them too early!
Now you know what’s required to travel and you’re ready to book. What’s next? Training of course!
Time to brush up on your training?
In preparation for walking in unfamiliar and new areas you should ensure their recall is excellent, or make sure you keep them on their lead if it’s not. This is so you can prevent any accidents when you come across creeks, cliffs or wildlife while you’re away.
It is also a good idea to get your dog used to car journeys if they aren’t already. If you are travelling a long distance they will need to sit still for prolonged periods of time without distracting the driver.
Lastly, you need to consider whether your dog is up for a holiday or would they prefer to stay home?
If they are good with new places and adjusting to them then that’s great! You both would benefit from a holiday together.
However, if you think your dog might get stressed, they may be better off staying at home where they are most comfortable. Why not see if a local borrower can help?
So you have decided on a location and a date for your holiday and booked in the vet appointments beforehand. What else is there to consider?
Dog-friendly holiday research
Before you arrive at your destination, it is a great idea to have a list of dog-friendly places in the area.
Find out what local bars, cafes and tourist attractions allow dogs so you have less to worry about and more time to enjoy your holiday with your pooch able to join in on the fun.
Even if your accommodations are pet-friendly, confirm details ahead of check-in for peace of mind.
From seaside holidays and outdoor adventures to city breaks and rural escapes, we’ve got a list of dog-loving hotels, B&Bs and cottages to fit any UK destination.
It is also recommended that you check the accommodation you are staying in is secure for dogs.
If there is a garden, are there fences, gates or any open spots they could run from? If you know you are staying on a main road or next to a car park, think about what extra steps you might need to take.
Dog-friendly activities on holiday
Make sure the activities you have planned are suitable for dogs. If you plan to sunbathe all day on the beach, bring lots of toys to keep your dog stimulated. And don't forget a sunshade and/or a cool coat to keep your dog from overheating, and be sure the sand isn't too hot for bare paws. If it's a very hot day, don't take your dog to the beach.
Outdoor activities can suit your dog well if the weather isn’t too hot.
Some dog enjoy long walks, boat trips and camping. Remember to keep activities suitable for your dog’s age, behaviour and the weather!
You should find a local vet that you can contact in case of an emergency. Save their number and address so that it is easy to access if your dog was to fall ill or get injured.
Additionally, if you are travelling abroad, your dog will usually need tapeworm treatment before returning to the UK, so they will need a trip to the vets for that to be given.
Protect your four-pawed pal with adequate insurance
It’s awful when your dog gets hurt, poorly or goes missing. But it’s even worse when it happens away from home.
Make sure your pet is insured and microchipped (with your microchip contact details up to date) before heading away, just in case the worst happens.
Taking a borrowed dog? Not to worry, all premium members are covered by Accident and Third Party Liability Insurance, so your mind can be put at ease.
What to pack for your dog on holiday
- Collar and name tag – essential if your pup should go wandering. You could even get an additional one engraved or print a small label with the name of your accommodation and mobile number so you can be reunited faster.
- Long and short leads – on holiday, your pup can enjoy the freedom to roam the wide-open spaces, but there may also be times, on cliff-top walks or dog-friendly attractions where your dog needs to be under tighter control.
- Bed / basket along with a favourite blanket – even when the property is ultra dog-friendly, your canine pal will still need somewhere to sleep, and a bed brought from home will give that added sense of familiarity.
- Food / water and bowl as well as travel bowl and treats – as well as their usual feeding bowls and mats, it’s also well worth investing in collapsible travelling water and food bowls and some bottled water for rehydration on the go.
- Dog poo bags – probably a no-brainer, as when your dog has got to go, they’ve got to go and it’s a dog owner’s (or borrower’s) duty to keep our beautiful outdoor spaces clean for everyone to enjoy.
- Dog toy – going on holiday without your dog’s favourite toy would be like forgetting baby’s favourite blanket. A collection of balls or fetching toys for those long walks in the country or on the beach is also crucial as is a chew toy to keep them entertained in more contained environments.
- Towels/old sheet – as you’re on holiday, you’ll no doubt spend much of your time exploring every puddle, lake, beach, field and woodland so you’ll need to be able to wipe down muddy fur or sandy paws before returning to your holiday cottage.
- Stain remover – always a good thing to have no matter how well trained your pet is – if in unfamiliar surroundings or on a long car trip, accidents can happen so it’s best to be prepared.
- Pet hair roller and brush – this is essential if you have a pet who sheds a lot of hair and it goes without saying that your pet will want to look his or her best on holiday and enjoy a bit of pampering – especially after a walk in the rain.
- Address book / contacts app – just in case, it’s always handy to keep some useful contacts when you’re away – not least, the number of the accommodation and a local vet.
On the road: transportation
Whether your journey includes a train, plane or automobile, here’s a doggy travel checklist:
Stay hydrated and well fed
Make sure you always have water available for your dog. Because they aren’t able to cool down as quickly as humans, they’re more vulnerable to heatstroke and dehydration.
Feed your dog up to two hours prior to a long journey to ensure he’s satisfied, but not too full when travelling.
Dogs can get restless during a longer journey, so pack a familiar toy to keep them entertained and stress-free.
Car travel with a dog
When driving with your dog there are a few things to remember:
- If your pooch isn’t used to being in the car, make sure you get them used to it well in advance – you could start by simply allowing them to explore whilst the car is parked and the engine switched off before gradually building up to short, followed by longer, journeys.
- Before embarking on a long car journey, take your dog on several short trips to ensure they are happy and comfortable with car travel.
- Humans aren’t the only ones who can get carsick. So make sure you keep your pooch nice and comfortable on long journeys!
- When travelling in the car, you must make sure they are properly restrained so that they cannot distract you and they certainly shouldn’t be in the front seat. Make sure your dog is strapped into a doggy car seat, or suitably restrained to keep them safe and free from travel sickness.
- Don’t let them hang their head out of the window
- Keep them in a shaded area if possible
- Make sure there are plenty of stops along the way to allow humans and dogs alike to stretch their legs and use the bathroom. It is important you take more frequent stops than you might if it was just adults as your dog may get restless and need a brief walk around.
- Stopping will also provide an opportunity for your dog to have a drink.
- If your dog gets travel sick, avoid feeding them before taking a long journey.
- Ask your vet about pheromone sprays, supplements and calming aids for anxious travellers.
- Avoid leaving your dog in the car alone.
- Make sure you have treats, toys and a portable water bowl accessible to you on the journey to keep your dog entertained and happy.
Taking the train with your dog
- Up to 2 dogs/person are allowed on UK trains free of charge, depending on different train carrier rules.
- Dogs must be kept on lead or in a blanket or carrier.
- Review full train details.
Travelling with your dog on a plane
- Individual airlines determine if your dog can fly in-cabin or in the cargo hold depending on a variety of reasons, such as size, breed, destination and time of year.
- Regardless of where your dog flies within the plane, they will need a safe and comfortable IATA approved carrier during the flight.
- Depending on your destination, you may be required to provide health certificates, additional vaccinations or a Pet Passport. Make sure to check immigration guidelines prior to travel.
- Check with your airline directly to confirm their dog policies.
- Helpful Travel Advice
When you arrive
You’ve made it! After a long journey with plenty of stops, you have arrived at your destination and it’s time for some relaxation and fun. There are still a few things to bear in mind, however.
Try and keep your pooch's routine the same as at home or as similar as possible. This should help limit any stress and give them a sense of normality.
Similarly, with diet, make sure you have enough of their normal food for the entirety of the trip to avoid any upset stomachs or a rushed trip to the local supermarket.
Give them time to explore and get familiar with their temporary home before exploring the wider area. Provide them with a cosy spot within the accommodation and set them up with their bed, toys and familiar smelling items. This will help them feel secure.
As the holiday continues, make sure they have plenty of time to rest and sleep undisturbed so they don’t get overwhelmed or exhausted. If it is hot or you are out all day, make sure they have a shady, cool spot to rest so they don’t get heatstroke.
Finally, keep an eye on them throughout the journey and holiday. Look for signs of illness, stress or unfamiliar behaviour.
This may seem like a lot of information and can be overwhelming to look at at first but once broken down into smaller steps it is definitely manageable and shouldn’t put you off considering taking your pup with you on holiday!
Final holiday tips from our vet
If you’re taking your pet on lots of long walks, remember to bring extra water with you – dogs get thirsty too! Regular shade breaks are also a great idea.
If your dog is overly excitable, particularly around new people and new environments, remember this might not be convenient for others. Keeping them on the lead in really busy areas will also help to keep them safe.
Have a great holiday with your pooch! Don’t forget to start planning early if you’re heading abroad and to contact your vet if you have any concerns.
This article is for information only, and should never replace any advice, diagnosis or treatment from your veterinary surgeon. Always contact your local vet or out of hours vet without delay if you have any concerns about your dog.
Handy Travel Articles
Know someone who’d love this?
Want to hear about a different kind of dog care that both you and your dog will love?
Or perhaps you’re a dog lover who can’t have one of your own right now?
We have the pawfect solution, BorrowMyDoggy!