6 things to remember when travelling with your pet

5 September 2023 - 4 min read

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A beagle sits in an open suitcase

Are you headed away with your pet? With all of the paperwork, costs, and extra considerations to prepare, the whole process can get a little anxiety inducing.

That's why we’ve identified 6 things that can make or break going away with a pet.

1. Do you know the rules for taking pets on planes, trains, automobiles (and ferries)?

Some companies, like Eurostar, do not allow pets on board, while others, like National Rail, allow up to two pets per passenger, free of charge.

If you choose to fly with a pet, generally it will not be allowed in the cabin with you unless it's an assistance animal. Although you are allowed to take your falcon on Qatar, Emirates, Etihad or Royal Jordanian Airlines. In the Middle East, the birds even have their own passports!

To meet the requirements for transporting a pet on a plane, you’ll need a container that is spacious, robust and secure. Check out the IATA (International Air Transport Association)'s container requirements.

Several ferry companies (Stena Line, P&O, Wightlink) allow dogs on board but few allow cats (P&O does allow them) or ferrets. On most ferries, you’ll be allowed to leave your dog locked in your car or in an onboard kennel if one is available. Usually, there’s an extra cost involved.

It’s important to familiarise yourself with each company’s rules before booking.

If you choose to travel by car, make sure to comply with Rule 57 in the Highway Code that says: "When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars."

2. What are the vaccines pets need to travel?

A new environment, even if it's temporary, can be stressful for pets.

To make travel more tolerable, you can buy a pheromone spray that will soothe your pet; put familiar things in their container, such as favourite toys; and maintain their routine as much as possible.

If travelling by car, feed your pet and have toilet breaks the same time as you would at home. If you have a cat, carry a litter box with you.

You can buy safe booster seats for dogs, and it may be worth considering a backseat barrier to ensure your pooch won’t hop over to the front seat while you're driving.

And don’t forget to pack things like your pet’s bed, blanket, toys or a scratch post. Putting these things in your temporary accommodation will relieve the stress of being somewhere new.

3. What are the vaccines pets need to travel?

Make sure your pet’s regular vaccines are up to date and, if you’re going abroad, it will need a rabies jab or booster, otherwise you risk having it detained in quarantine for up to four months.

You have to wait 21 days after you’ve had your pet vaccinated against rabies before you’re allowed to travel.

Your pet might need additional vaccines depending on where you're going. Talk to your vet and find out what animal illnesses are common in the countries you’re planning to visit and whether you’ll need to vaccinate your pet against them.

The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) allows pets to travel freely within the European Union, meaning that unlike in the USA or other non-EU countries they don’t have to be quarantined.

To meet the requirements of the scheme your pet will need:

  • An up-to-date passport

  • A microchip

  • A tapeworm treatment 24 to 120 hours before leaving and returning to the UK (dogs only)

  • A rabies vaccination and a blood test 30 days later

It's not clear what will happen to the scheme after Brexit, although it's likely that if the negotiations end with 'no deal' it will be harder to take pets to Europe.

5. Will your pet be allowed to share your accommodation?

Check that your hotel allows pets to stay with their owners. Luckily, an increasing number of hotels allow pets. They are likely to charge more but they should have more pet-friendly areas.

You can even book a dedicated dog-friendly holiday that will come with all the extras your pooch might need. Check out PetsPyjamas Travel for retreats, hotels, manor houses, cottages and many others that you can share with your dog.

If you decide against taking your pet with you, you might benefit from a good pet minder. You might like TrustedHousesitters.

6. Do you need pet travel Insurance?

Dedicated travel insurance for pets isn't a common proposition, however, many pet insurance policies offer add-ons that cover your pet for vet treatment while abroad.

Many of the big pet insurance providers, such as More Than, John Lewis and M&S offer some cover when your pets are abroad. We offer it, too.

Our Complete policy offers £2,500 of travel cover as standard and many of our other pet insurance policies offer £1,000 of travel cover as an affordable add-on.

Learn more about pet travel cover here.

And finally: plan ahead! The sooner you plan for all the above the more likely you are to have a memorable holiday with your pet.

Lewis Martins
Communities marketer

Lewis has worked in pet health since 2017. Before joining ManyPets in 2021, he led content production at VetForum and PetsApp. Lewis has collaborated with some of the world’s biggest vet groups and suppliers to write educational articles for vets and pet parents. His Instagram feed is 60% dogs, 40% cats.