Summer dog travel advice


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If you want to take your dog abroad with you this summer, “be prepared”, as the well-known Scout saying goes!

Our Your Dog advisor and veterinary surgeon Dr Holly Mash talks us through the ins and outs of Animal Health Certificates, and offers some top tips on how to keep your dog comfortable and safe in the car - wherever you plan to go.

Even if you are just planning a staycation this summer, it’s still important to think about keeping your dog comfortable on the journey. It’s always sensible to have made sure they’ve done their business before the trip and also that they haven’t just eaten a full meal. Depending on the length of the journey, it’s advisable to make a stop every two to four hours or so for a leg stretch, ‘comfort break’ and a drink.

Did you know that according to the Highway Code, (and UK law), dogs travelling in a car must be suitably restrained? This usually means they need to either be wearing a seat belt (this is often a strap that attaches to their harness), or be in a travel crate or carrier. This not only keeps them safe and secure during the journey, but also in the event of an accident.

Now, for staycation-ers, the good news is you don’t need any travel documents to remain in Great Britain for your hols. If you’re venturing abroad, however, you’ll need to make sure that you plan your trip well in advance, as it can take several weeks to get all the required travel documentation ready to go.

Travelling to the EU with your dog

As of 2021, dogs going to the EU from Great Britain need a document called an ‘Animal Health Certificate’(AHC). This certificate needs to be completed by an ‘Official Veterinarian’, (a vet with specialist Government training). It proves that your dog has a microchip, has been vaccinated against rabies and meets the requirements for travel.

An AHC is a long and complex, (usually dual language), document that often takes the vet several hours to complete and your dog will need a new one for every trip, (another unfortunate repercussion of Brexit!). It is valid for up to four months of onward travel between EU member states and for re-entry to Great Britain.

One of the key requirements of the AHC is that your dog has had their microchip implanted before, (or at the same time as), they had their rabies vaccination. Another crucial element is that there has to be proof that the vet giving the rabies vaccine scanned the dog’s microchip at the same time and recorded the fact in their notes, (they don’t always!).

Forward planning is what it’s all about as there is a 21-day wait after they’ve had their rabies vaccination before an AHC can be issued. So, it’s well worth contacting your regular vet, (or a specialist pet travel vet), as soon as possible before you want to go on holiday.

If you have a puppy, be aware that they need to be at least 12 weeks old to have their rabies vaccine, and then you have the 21-day wait after this until an AHC can be done.

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Many veterinary surgeries have an Official Veterinarian who can deal with travel documentation and AHCs, but these services can get busy, especially around holiday periods, so get your appointment booked in good time.

In terms of the actual crossing to Europe, consider the Eurotunnel as you can stay in the car with your dog for the short, 35-minute crossing. Otherwise, if you opt for a ferry, your dog would usually either be in your car, in a pet friendly cabin or in the kennels.

Entering the EU with your dog

At the border, where you enter the EU, you may be asked to show proof of your dog’s microchipping and their rabies vaccination, in addition to the AHC. So do have these to hand with you to show the border officials - and not packed in the bottom of the car!

It’s also worth noting that pet parents who have a second home in Europe may be lucky enough to be able to have their dog travel on an EU Pet Passport. This means they won’t need to get an AHC each time they go away. This EU Pet Passport will have been issued in an EU country (or Northern Ireland), and can be used to travel to the EU and Northern Ireland, as long as the rabies vaccinations are up to date. However, your dog will need to receive their rabies vaccine in the EU, as GB vets are not permitted to complete EU Pet Passports.

Once you are all set for your trip, as well as ensuring you have all the correct documentation in place, your vet will also talk you through any extra disease risks in the region you are visiting. They’ll be able to recommended preventive treatments (such as suitable spoton’s or collars), and precautions you will need to consider. For example, leishmaniasis is an infection affecting dogs that is transmitted by sandflies in the Mediterranean basin and tick-borne diseases, such as ehrlichiosis can also occur in parts of Europe.

At the end of your trip, your dog will need to see an EU vet not less than 24 hours and not more than 120 hours (that’s five days), for tapeworm treatment, before they re-enter GB. Finally, it’s worth knowing that dogs travelling from Great Britain to tapeworm-free countries including Northern Ireland, Malta, Norway, Ireland and Finland must be treated for tapeworm prior to travel.

For holidays to non-EU countries, you’ll need to speak to your vet about getting an Export Health Certificate. There will be different requirements depending on where you are going, and you may need vaccinations and/or blood tests, so again forward planning is key.

NB: Test car seat supplied by Where’s Winnie (

For more info on pet travel, visit Holly’s website