6 things to check before traveling with your pet

January 25, 2018 - 4 min read

This article was written for the United Kingdom market and the advice provided may not be accurate for those in the United States.

We’ve identified six things that can make or break going away with a pet.

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, 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's (International Air Transport Association) container requirements.

Several ferry companies (Stena Line, P&O, and 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 familiarize 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."

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 favorite toys; and maintain their routine as much as possible.

If traveling by car, feed your pet and take toilet breaks at 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.

Required Vaccines for 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.

Accommodation Rules for Pets

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 sitter. You might like TrustedHousesitters.com. It is an online community for homeowners and pet lovers where you can find a sitter who will happily look after your pet for free while you're away.

Consider Pet 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.

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.

Irina Wells
Content Marketing Executive

Irina is a former content marketing executive for ManyPets. She has contributed to a number of personal finance sites, including Loot Financial Services and Claro Money.