Taking your pet on holiday

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Planning for holidays can be stressful at the best of times, without the complication of taking your pet away too.

But pet-loving Brits are loathed to leave their furry friends behind when they jet off; a recent report by Magnus Aviation revealed 12,000 pets have flown in a business aircraft in Europe in the first five months of 2016.

In 2015, the UK's Animal and Plant Health Authority issued over 120,000 pet passports, 287% higher than 2011. The introduction of the Government’s Pet Travel Scheme (PETS ) in 2014 makes travelling abroad with pets much easier.

The scheme states you can enter or return to the UK with your cat, dog or ferret if:

  • It’s microchipped
  • It has a pet passport or third country official veterinary certificate
  • It’s vaccinated against rabies

Dogs should also have undergone tapeworm treatment.

Before travel

Consider if taking your pet with you is the best thing for them. Many pets can become stressed by travelling and find it hard to adapt to a new routine and environment. Would it be better to leave them in the care of someone responsible at home?

If you decide to bring your pet with you, check the holiday destination has the essential facilities you’ll need for your pet. Research if you’re able to get your pet’s regular food while away, or make sure to take plenty with you if you can’t.

Check the company you’re travelling with accepts pets for travel. Find out what documentation they require for you to prove your pet is fit for travel. It can take a while to get this documentation so plan ahead to make sure you meet all the relevant deadlines.

The essentials

  1. Pet passport – your pet requires a passport when travelling within the EU, or from the EU to a listed or unlisted country then returning to the EU. If travelling outside the EU, your pet will need a third country official veterinary certificate
  2. Microchip – your pet must be microchipped before they can travel abroad. This should be done before their vaccinations. Microchipping for pet travel can only be done by certain professionals. Your vet should include the microchip number in your pet passport or third country official veterinary certificate
  3. Vaccinations – your pet requires a vaccination against rabies before they can travel. They will also need booster vaccinations and blood tests may be required. Find the full guidelines here.

If you don’t follow these rules, your pet may be put into quarantine for up to four months.

There are different rules for travelling with guide and assistance dogs; many airlines won’t charge for you to take a guide dog into the cabin with you but this service may not be available to book online and you’ll have to call the airline to check.

Travelling

  • Flying – make sure the container your pet will be travelling in is big enough to allow them to lie down and turn without discomfort. Place their blanket or a familiar toy in there to comfort them
  • Driving – stop for regular breaks so your pet can get some exercise. Remember to take plenty of food and water with you to keep them refreshed during your journey. Dogs don’t normally need to travel in a container, but cats should travel in one. See our guide to car journeys with pets for more advice

If you know your pet has a fear of travelling or you’ll be taking them on a particularly long journey which you’re concerned about, speak to your vet for advice.

Unless you’re travelling between the UK and Ireland, you’ll need to use an approved transport company and route.

And just like humans, pets can suffer from travel sickness so make sure you don’t feed your cat or dog right before a journey.

On holiday

If you’re travelling to a hot country, avoid exercising your pet at the hottest time of the day and ensure it has regular access to water.

Make sure you only give your pet tap water in places where the water is safe to drink. If you are drinking bottled water, your pet needs to have bottled water too.

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