Whether it’s an annual family getaway or a break with friends, there will be many of us wanting to bring our pets along for the ride. Kennels and catteries are not for everyone (or every pet) and placing our furries in the care of others can cause lots of stress and worry before and during a holiday – not ideal when the aim is to be relaxed!

The pleasure of discovering new countries is also made better with our pets in tow. While all we need is a passport and tickets to jet abroad, getting our animals over the border requires a little more organisation. Depending on where we are going, our doctors may encourage us to have vaccinations, but when it comes to pets, vaccinations are a mandatory requirement for travel abroad.

The UK has been free of the rabies virus since 1922, and keeping it that way is a top priority for border control. Because of this, a rabies vaccination must be given to dogs 21 days prior to travelling. For this to count, your dog must already be micro-chipped so that it can be easily identified.

There are a number of things to bear in mind when taking your pet abroad and most guidelines apply to dogs, cats, and strangely enough, ferrets, which apparently make very popular pets across Europe! It all depends on where you are travelling into the UK (and rest of the EU) from and whether that country is listed or not.

Legal requirements aside, it is important to consider the health and happiness of your pet when planning to travel. Plane journeys can be very physically and emotionally taxing for an animal and the hold of an airplane is a lot noisier, more cramped and less temperature controlled than above in the cabin.

Pets are confined to small holding boxes and placed with other animals that may be reacting badly to their environment, making the whole experience a lot more upsetting. Spraying the holding box with Adaptil before travelling is a good way of bringing effective relief for anxious or troubled pets.

Add to this the fact that your pet will be without human contact for a long period of time and must make any food or water provisions last the journey. There will be no air hostesses topping up their water or emptying their litter tray!

When you reach your destination, your pet’s wellbeing remains a priority as hot climates can put its health in jeopardy. Foreign insects play havoc with domestic dogs and cats and keeping them coolheaded and relaxed can be difficult when out-and-about abroad. Do your homework before you travel and decide whether the country you are visiting is a realistic location for your pet to be without causing it discomfort or stress.

Climate is very important when holidaying with pets as large, long-haired breeds will not fare well in hot countries, just as short-haired breeds won't be as comfortable in extreme cold. Before travelling, it is worth taking your pet along to the vet for a general check-up. Your vet will be able to assess whether your animal is fit to travel and give advice on keeping it safe and healthy on foreign soil. He will also be able to update your pet passport if necessary and make sure everything is in order as far as legal requirements for travel go.

When journeying to the UK from another EU country or a country outside the EU that is listed, the following requirements apply:

  • Your pet must be micro-chipped. This should be carried out by your veterinarian before the rabies vaccination is given. The rabies vaccination will not count if your pet is micro-chipped afterwards. It is not uncommon for a micro-chip to fall out or migrate, so have your vet check this for you before you travel. In some cases, tattoo identification is accepted in the absence of a micro-chip. Providing your pet was given its tattoo before the 3rd July, 2011 and that this was done before the vaccination against rabies, a micro-chip won’t also be necessary. The tattoo must be easily legible and the date of the procedure should be recorded in the pet passport.
  • Your pet must be vaccinated against rabies. This should be done 21 days before travelling, with the date of vaccination counting as day 0.
  • Your dog must be treated against tapeworm within 48 hours (but no less than 24 hours) of travelling. This should be recorded in the pet passport.
  • A pet passport or official third party veterinary certificate must be issued. This can be done by your veterinarian.
  • In order to travel with your pet, using an authorised carrier along an approved route is also compulsory.

When travelling to the UK from an unlisted country, the requirements are slightly different. Besides the micro-chip, rabies vaccination, tapeworm treatment and third party veterinary certificate that your dog will need to travel, it will also require a blood test (to be taken at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination), followed by a 3 month wait to ensure the vaccination has been successful.

After 3 months, providing the blood test results come back clear and everything else is in order, your pet will be allowed to travel back to the UK. If you are planning on travelling to an unlisted country, meeting these requirements before travelling abroad will mean that a 3 month wait on your return won't be necessary.

If your pet is rabies vaccinated, blood tested (your vet must give you a copy of the results for your records) and issued with an EU pet passport before leaving the UK, you will not have to wait 3 months before bringing it home. It is essential you meet all requirements beforehand to avoid this quarantine.

Wherever you are travelling to, if you want to return to the UK with your pet and without all the upset and upheaval of a lengthy stay in quarantine, getting organised is the first hurdle to overcome. Talk to your vet if you are thinking about travelling with your pet and get all the necessary information behind you. Some countries are a lot stricter when it comes to pet travel, and others have very specific requirements that you would never have guessed at.

Arranging an authorised carrier along an approved route is a mandatory requirement, whether travelling within the EU or from an unlisted country, so make sure this is booked in advance. If everything is planned ahead i.e. all the necessary procedures are carried out in the correct order, and you are certain of your pet’s suitability for travel, then under the pet travel scheme, taking your dog, cat or ferret with you on your summer hols really couldn’t be simpler (well, maybe a little!)

Adaptil is well invested in pet calming products and their collar is ideal for on-the-go animals in need of some feel-good pheromones to relax and de-stress them. This is much needed during travel when pets can become highly anxious in unfamiliar places and situations. For more information on pet calming products, read our related blog post Pet Calming - Products in Focus.

If you have any advice on travelling abroad with a pet, please share it with other readers. Likewise, we would love to hear your pet travel stories and experiences! Please comment below.

Written by: Hannah