Dog running through the waves on the beach

Travelling abroad with dogs

Things to consider before going away

Before taking your dog abroad with you, be sure to consider whether they will be happy with long car journeys and the heat that holidays usually bring.

If you're heading to Europe, you’ll want to prepare for your trip by getting an animal health certificate (AHC) and all the necessary paperwork and health checks for your dog in advance. AHCs can only be issued by an official veterinarian so you will need to find a practice that offers this service. 

If you're planning a trip outside of the EU, you'll need an export health certificate (EHC), more information on this can be found on the government website.

Where should I take my pet on holiday?

You’ll need to consider a number of factors when choosing a destination, including:

  • the availability of dog-friendly accommodation
  • ensuring there is access to open space to exercise your dog and let them toilet
  • whether they will be able to accompany you to restaurants and attractions, such as beaches. And, if not, whether they will be comfortable being left in unfamiliar surroundings.
  • the weather. Are you likely to be out exploring with your dog in soaring temperatures? If so, this could pose a health risk to your pet.
  • vet facilities. It’s a good idea to research the nearest vet or animal hospital beforehand so that you’re prepared in the event of an emergency.
  • diseases not present in the UK, that are local to the area, and could put your dog in danger 
  • the length and type of journey and the impact this may have on your animal

How to travel abroad with my dog

Travel by Eurotunnel

This is the safest way to travel with your pet and Blue Cross would encourage owners to use this transport method when considering going abroad.

Advantages of travelling by Eurotunnel with your dog

  • While Eurotunnel requires dogs to remain in the car, owners can remain in the car with them
  • The journey is usually far shorter and cooler than if you were to take a ferry
  • There are dedicated exercise areas for dogs at either side of the crossing which owners are encouraged to use

Disadvantages of travelling by Eurotunnel with your dog

  • Your dog will need to remain in the car at all times

Do bear in mind that there is often a charge attached to travelling with your dog by Eurotunnel.

Travel by ferry

This mode of transport is commonly used, but there are some things that you will need to consider before going on your trip. 

Tip: On arrival at the port, your pet’s microchip will be scanned. It’s a good idea to get your vet to check the microchip is easily detectable before you leave to avoid any delays. 

Advantages of travelling by ferry with your dog

Some ferry companies:

  • have dog-friendly cabins where your dog can stay with you for the entire journey
  • have dog-friendly areas
  • allow dogs on board as foot passengers, but you’ll need to carefully plan your transport either side

Disadvantages of travelling by ferry with your dog

There is often a charge for travelling with your pet, and not all ferry providers allow pets on board.

Warning

Blue Cross never recommends leaving a dog in a car for any amount of time. If your ferry journey requires you to leave your dog alone for the duration of the ferry ride, we recommend looking at alternative options. Not only can it be stressful for dogs but it is also a health risk due to the rapid rate at which temperatures can rise in a vehicle. 

There have been reports of dog deaths during ferry crossings of this kind and it’s important to find a ferry company that allows your pet to stay with you for the duration of the crossing or placed in an appropriate kennel on board. 

Travel by air

Blue Cross does not recommend this mode of transport with any pets. A select number of airlines allow dogs on board, but unless they are assistance pets they must travel as cargo and this can be particularly stressful, as well as a health risk. 

What to pack for your trip

Here are some things to remember for your journey.

  • A crate for the car or a safe car harness for your dog that has ideally been crash tested
  • Plan regular rest and exercise breaks
  • Make sure your dog has enough water to last the entire journey 
  • Take steps to keep them cool
  • Their favourite treats and the right amount of food. If your pet has a sensitive tummy it may be best to take enough food with you to last the entire trip as the availability of brands can be limited in some areas.
  • Comfy bedding
  • Familiar toys to keep them reassured and occupied
  • Poo bags
  • A collar with a tag including your mobile phone number
  • A muzzle (if needed)

Should my dog stay at home instead?

It’s important that your dog will be tolerant of any long car journeys and sea crossings. Some dogs struggle with car sickness or are anxious of travel. Other dogs find it distressing and overwhelming to be out of their usual home environment. Some destinations, although accessible, are not particularly dog-friendly and may not be enjoyable for your pet as a result. 

In these cases, leaving your dog at home with a trustworthy dog sitter or placing them in reputable boarding kennels might be a better option. 

Important: Be sure to check the area you are travelling to beforehand to see whether there’s a risk that your pet will be exposed to diseases that we don’t have in the UK, such as leishmaniasis. And, remember, there may be other risks such as heat exposure and exotic animals such as snakes that you will need to take into consideration.

Pet insurance

We strongly recommend that you make sure your pet’s insurance covers trips abroad in the event of any injury or illness.

— Page last updated 17/02/2021

Did you find this helpful?

We provide free pet advice as every pet deserves to be well looked after. We treated around 35,000 sick injured and homeless pets last year. We're so glad we've been able to help these pets who are unable to help themselves, but there are thousands of sick and lonely pets still in need, so we need to ask for a small favour.

All of our work is funded entirely through donations. People like you are essential to our work. If everyone who benefits from our articles is able to give a little back, we can reach thousands more pets. For as little as £1 you can make a difference - do you have one minute? Thank you.