Survival guide to taking your dog abroad


06 November 2014

Survival guide to taking your dog abroad

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Whether it's a winter break, or a summer holiday, going overseas with your dog can seem like a nerve-racking experience. Andrea McHugh offers 10 tips to help ease the journey.

1. Plan ahead

Although it is now possible to travel abroad with your dog without him enduring months of quarantine you can't just book a last-minute holiday and set off. The rules vary from country to country, so ask your vet for advice on what is needed to ensure your dog can safely leave the country and, importantly, has all the documentation to allow him back in again.

2. Microchip

All dogs travelling abroad must have a microchip for identification purposes. This should be done before the dog has a rabies vaccination so that your vet can record the unique microchip number on your dog's pet passport.

3. Rabies vaccination

All dogs must be vaccinated against the deadly disease rabies prior to travelling to another EU country or returning to the UK. The rules have eased slightly but you must wait 21 days after the vaccination before your dog can travel to, or return, to the UK from another EU or non-EU listed country.

However, if your dog is travelling into the UK from a country that is not listed on the Pet Travel Scheme he will require a blood sample 30 days after the rabies vaccination, and you must then wait three calendar months before travelling.

4. Passports please…

Once your dog has fulfilled the necessary criteria for travelling - been microchipped and had a rabies vaccination - your vet can issue you with a pet passport. The passport remains valid as long as your dog continues to meet the UK's entry requirements.

5. Carry on

Under the UK's Pet Travel Scheme only certain approved transport companies and routes can be used to bring pet dogs into the country. Some companies will request a veterinary statement to confirm that your dog is fit to travel before they allow him to board, so check beforehand to ensure you comply with all their requirements. You may also need to buy an authorised pet travel carrier so that your dog can travel safely and securely.

6. Extra protection

The Pet Travel Scheme safeguards against the risk of rabies entering the UK, but your dog could be at risk of other potentially fatal diseases, so ask your vet for advice on how to protect him. Tick treatments are no longer compulsory, but you may wish to provide this or invest in a protective band such as a Scalibor collar to help control ticks, mosquitoes, and flies.

7. Comfort breaks

If your dog is in a carrier it must be large enough for him to stand up and turn around in, and he will appreciate a blanket or cool mat for extra comfort. Allow plenty of time in your schedule so that your dog can relieve himself before he travels. Check with your travel company about available exercise areas.

8. Hot dogs

The temperatures abroad may be much warmer than in the UK, which could mean your dog will be more vulnerable to heatstroke. Avoid exercising your dog during the hottest periods of the day and make sure he has access to cool shade and plenty of water. Investing in a heat-reflecting cool coat will help to keep him comfortable.

9. Food and drink

A day or two prior to travelling, start to reduce your dog's food intake slightly and on the day of travel feed him as early as possible. Make sure that he has constant access to water throughout the journey. Remember that you may not be able to buy your dog's usual brand of food on holiday, so pack sufficient supplies for the time you are away.

10. Homeward bound

One to five days before you return to the UK you must visit a local vet for your dog to be checked, scanned, and given a tapeworm treatment. The vet will also sign and date your dog's passport. On the day you return home the travel company will scan your dog's microchip and check the pet passport and other documents. If your pet doesn't meet the necessary requirements he may face quarantine or be sent back to the country you have travelled from, so check, check, and check again, to ensure everything is in order.