A Guide to Taking Your Dog on Holiday

 So, as you maybe aware, I recently took my dog with me on our family holiday to France. This is something we’ve done ever since we’ve had him and it’s a fabulous way to involve your family pet in your family life even more. After all, why shouldn’t pets get holidays too!

If you’d like to know about taking your own pup on holiday, then you’re in luck because here’s a handy little guide to taking your dog on holiday. 

First things first, though, I’d just like to clarify that this is based on my own personal experiences. Our dog, Coco is a cockapoo, so about medium sized. It might be a little trickier to fit your great dane on your lap for an entire car journey! We have also only ever traveled by car from the UK to France, taking either the Eurotunnel or the ferry. I can’t say what that rules would be for other modes of transport or for other countries, so you’ll have to do your own research. Furthermore, the word we all hate to hear, Brexit, may have an effect on future laws regarding pet travel, so again, check my information against more reliable sources. 

Disclaimer over, it’s time for a Guide to Taking Your Dog on Holiday!

Before you book:

The first thing you’ll need to do is research! 

You’ll need to check what countries you can and can’t take a pet too, and what you will need to be able to do this. 

Once you know where you’re going, you will need to look for suitable accommodation. We have a family home in France, so we know that Coco is definitely allowed there. If you’re staying somewhere that you don’t own, you will definitely need to make sure your pet is allowed too. 

As well as accommodation, you will need to make sure that your planned method of travel will allow for your pet and you need to know if you need documentation (the answer is probably yes, you just need to find out what exactly) and if your pet needs any vaccinations or medication.

At the moment Coco has a Pet Passport, which allows him to travel between the UK and Europe quite easily. We do, however, have to take him to the vets before and during our holiday to ensure he has had appropriate vaccinations and worming. 

Check exactly what your pet needs, online and with the vet, then book them in. Your vet will need to document any medication your pet takes in the Pet Passport, if you are using one, while other counties may require a different type of documentation which will likely require some sort of input from your vet. 

Key Points:

– Check rules about taking a pet on holiday relevant to the country you are going from and going to

– Make sure to find accommodation that allows your pet

– Know whether or not you can take your pet on your planned method of travel

– Be aware what medication and documentation your pet will need to travel

When booking:

Make sure that you are fully versed in everything you need to know above, then begin to book things. 

With vet appointments, some medications can be sorted out in advance, while some may need to be taken within a certain amount of time before you travel. Coco needs to be wormed before we leave France, so if you know you need to go to the vets in the country you will be holidaying in, make sure this will be possible for you. 

When booking accommodation and travel, make sure you book for your pet as well. The Eurotunnel and ferry often have an option to add your pet in, but some accommodation may not give this option, so try contacting them directly so they know you are bringing an animal. 

Key Points:

– Be well aware of everything you need to know before beginning to book things

– Sort out all required vet appointments

– Don’t forget to book travel for your pet 

– Make your accommodation aware your pet is coming

Before you travel:

Make sure you have definitely sorted all of the documentation and medication your pet will need. If you need any documentation, I’d suggest treating it the same as you would with your own passports, so that you don’t forget it. 

As well as this, you’ll need a few items for your pet over the journey. Now, if you’re not going by car, as I usually do, then you made need to sort out more (or less) of these things for your pet. This may also vary depending on your pet’s personal needs. 

Pack all of this at the same time you pack your own travel items.

A List of Things You Will Need:

– Pet Passport or Other Documentation

– Enough water to last your pet the journey

– A bowl for water and food

– If you will be travelling during your pet’s usual feeding time, their food

– Your pets lead and collar 

– Any products for your pets hygiene, for example a dog will need poo bags and may need a brush depending on fur type and length of stay

– If you have room, try taking their own bed

– Treats & toys!

During your journey:

We’ve been travelling with Coco since he was a puppy, so he has become accustomed to long car journeys. Some pets will naturally travel better than others, depending on their temperament and past experiences. In general though, there are some things all pets will need. 

One of the most important things for your pet’s journey will be water. If you can, make sure that they will have access to it throughout the journey. Unfortunately when we travel by car, we can’t have a full water bowl splashing about everywhere. To combat this, we take a small travel bowl and offer Coco little bits of water frequently, and large amounts when we stop or if he appears thirsty. 

While Coco often prefers to spend the majority of the journey on my lap, where possible give your dog their own section where they can get some space to themselves. 

Try to stick to your pet’s routine, where possible. If you’re going to be travelling during their usual feeding time, make sure you have their food so they can eat when they normally expect to do so. 

And of course, you mustn’t forget frequent breaks, for both the toilet and to allow your pet some exercise. Coco is used to a long trip in the car, and as he gets older he is happier to spend longer periods of time relaxing. That said, every pet will vary, so a more active dog may require longer and more frequent breaks. If possible, try to let your dog off the lead to allow them to get a bit more of a run, but in most cases it will be safer for your dog to stay on the lead – use this as an opportunity to stretch your own legs! 

Key Points:


– Give your pet their own little space, if you can

– Try to keep your pets routine, for example through meals

– Toilet breaks and a chance for your pet to get some exercise are extremely important

When you arrive:

The likelihood is, your pet is going to first want to get some exploring done! Let them take in their new surroundings, if possible. Remember, if this is a new area for them, they will need some supervision. 

As well as this, give your pet lots of love, after all, unlike humans, they have no idea why they’ve been packed up in a car for twelve hours and the ordeal may have worried them. 

Make sure your accommodation is pet-safe and keep your pet occupied and safe while you take care of human tasks, such as checking in and unpacking. 

Key Points:

– Allow your pet to familiarise themselves with their new surroundings 

– Give them some love

– Pet-proof your accommodation, if necessary

– Keep your pet happy and safe while you take care of human-tasks

During your holiday:

Finally, we’re at the fun part! This is the bit where you get to involve your pet in all sorts of holiday fun.

Remember to keep your pet safe and make sure you check that any places you would like to visit are pet-friendly. As well as this, try to find some holiday activities that you can easily involve your pet in, for example, taking your dog to a (dog-friendly) beach and having a swim, or going for a long hike! 

You should also try and keep to your pet’s at-home routine if you can, so keep feeding times similar and allow them time to relax as they normally would. 

And of course, don’t forget that you may need to attend a vet’s appointment before you bring your pet home. Before we leave France and return to the UK, we need to get Coco wormed. You should have checked this already before you booked your holiday, so just make sure you don’t forget!

Last but not least, have fun!

Key Points:

– Keep you pet safe

– Make sure you visit dog-friendly places

– Involve your pet in holiday fun

– Try to keep to your pet’s usual routine

– Don’t forget any vet appointments you may need

– Have fun!

So there we have it! A little guide to taking your pet on holiday. As I mentioned before, my advice is general and based on my own, personal experiences. Everything I’ve written here will depend on various aspects of your holiday, like countries you intend to visit, and your pet. 

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