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Travelling abroad with your dog Ė 6 tips for taking your pet on holiday in the car

Kwik Fit | Wednesday 12th July 2017 4:21pm

Your dog isnít just a pet, theyíre a member of the family, so leaving your dog behind when you go on holiday can be tough. But going abroad doesnít necessarily mean your dog canít come with you, especially if travelling in your own car. With the right preparation and paperwork, thereís no reason for your pet to miss out. In fact, research suggests that as many as 1 in 10 Brits who go on holiday abroad in their own car take their dogs with them. Hereís our 6 tips for pet owners taking their dog abroad for the first time.

Before you leave - get a pet passport

First things first, you wonít be able to just jump in your car with your dog and set off for sun, sea and sand. If you are taking your dog abroad you will need to plan ahead. If you donít have the right paperwork and medical records, poor pooch could end up in quarantine for up to 4 months with all costs billed to the owner. In order to travel to and from the EU with your dog you will need a pet passport from DEFRA. These can be acquired from many UK veterinary surgeries but if yours does not provide them, they will be able to suggest your nearest pet passport issuer. In order to issue a pet passport, your dog will need to be microchipped and the vet will need to see full vaccination records. Your dog will also need to be vaccinated against rabies and be receiving tapeworm treatment. If travelling to and from a none EU country, your pet may also need a rabies blood test. Check with your vet for details. All of the above can take some time especially if additional vaccinations are needed so itís best to start planning well ahead of your trip.

Pet travel and Brexit

If you are concerned at all about taking your dog into Europe now that the UK has decided to leave the EU; donít worry, there are no plans to change the rules for pet travel but you will still need a pet passport to take your dog abroad.

On the road - making your dog comfortable

Once you set off, the road ahead could be long and tiring. Just as you need to get out of the car and stretch your legs from time to time, so too does your dog so try not to leave your dog in the car when you stop for a rest. Many motorway service areas both in the UK and abroad have dog-friendly exercise areas where your dog can go for a run. Make the car journey as stress-free as possible for your dog by bringing plenty of bedding and familiar toys. Also make sure your dog has access to a water supply to prevent dehydration.

Another thing to bear in mind is that your petís favourite dog food may not be available when you leave the country, so if your pet is a particularly fussy eater you may want to bring enough food to last the length of your trip. In which case, double check food importation restrictions for the country you are visiting before you leave. 

Keep your dog cool

If travelling on a hot summerís day, your dog may need some help regulating its temperature, afterall, how would you feel having to wear a fur coat in 30 degree heat? Dogs are particularly susceptible to heat stroke and produce more heat from muscle activity so itís important to make sure they keep cool in the car. If your dog is panting heavily, appears lethargic, drools excessively or starts vomiting on the journey, this is a clear indication your dog is too hot. You can use your car air condition to regulate the air temperature in the car or if you donít have air con or its not working, wind the window down to let some air in. HoweverÖ.

Don't let your dog put it's head out of the window

It might be an endearing image, seeing a dog hanging its head out of a moving car with its chops flapping in the wind, but in reality it could be really dangerous and your dog risks serious injury. Your windscreen provides a shield that protects the carís occupants from flying debris such as stones that can hit the windscreen at incredible velocity. If your dog has its head out of the window there is nothing to protect them should a stone of other foreign object fly up at their face. Thatís not to mention that on narrow roads, hedgerows and other passing vehicles can get quite close to yours. Weíve seen plenty of drivers come in to centre with no wing mirror only to be told a passing vehicle had struck it and ripped it clean off. But ultimately it comes down to this: you wouldnít travel with your head out the window or allow your kids to do it, so why let your dog?

Taking your dog on the ferry

If your journey to get to continental Europe involves a ferry crossing, itís advisable to check with the ferry provider before you travel as each will have slightly different rules when it comes to pet travel. Some will insist your dog stays in the car at all times, in which case it is advisable to leave the window down and make sure your dog has access to water. Other ferries, usually those on longer routes, will allow dogs to leave their vehicles but a muzzle must be worn at all times and the dog kept on a lead. Some ferries provide exercise areas for dogs while others have pet friendly cabins so make sure you check before you travel as you may need to book these early.

If you are crossing the Channel via the Euro Tunnel, you can take your dog with you for a small additional cost and your pet stays in the car with you at all times. Make sure you have your petís full documentation and pet passport ready on your way home from Calais as you will need to show this before returning to the UK.

Check your pet insurance

Before you travel, make sure you check the fine print in your pet insurance policy to see how much cover is provided for vet fees while travelling abroad, if indeed foreign travel is covered at all. Also, cover may only be provided when travelling to certain countries or within the EU so itís important to make sure your destination is covered by your insurer. Some pet insurance providers offer pet travel cover as an optional extra so be sure to familiarise yourself with your policy and add this on if required.

Finally, weíve already mentioned the importance of the pet passport but if you travel abroad and your pet doesnít have one, it can invalidate your pet insurance, so make sure you get one.


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