Taking your dog on holiday from UK - EU
Travelling from the UK to Europe with your dog has become more complicated and changed quite a bit since Brexit.
However, with some careful planning and the help of this blog, you can avoid any hassle and enjoy a seamless trip with your furry friend.
Here's everything you need to know:
- Firstly, your dog's old UK Pet Passport is no longer valid for travel to the EU.
- You will need to obtain an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) for each trip if you haven't already done so.
- To obtain an AHC, your dog must be microchipped and have an up-to-date rabies vaccination.
- You must also wait for 21 days after vaccination.
- AHCs can only be issued up to 10 days before your departure date and are valid for up to 4 months of onward travel in the EU or for returning to the UK.
- You can use one AHC for up to 5 pets on a single trip.
Finally, you must enter the EU via an Approved Traveller's Point of Entry.
I want to take my dog on holiday - what should I do?
Before you plan to travel with your dog, it is important to know whether your vet practice has an Official Veterinarian (OV).
Only OVs are licensed to complete AHCs. Alternatively, you can also choose to use a pet travel agency or a vet company that deals specifically with animal transport and travel.
In either case, you will still need to arrange a visit between you, your dog, and an OV
If your dog has not had a rabies vaccination, then you should arrange it as soon as possible and no less than 21 days before your travel date.
Similarly, if your dog has missed a rabies booster, then you will need to wait for 21 days after the re-vaccination before you can travel with your dog.
All dogs in the UK must be microchipped by the time they are eight weeks old. If your dog is not microchipped, then this will need to be done before they have the rabies vaccination.
The rabies vaccination and the microchip can be done by a non-OV vet, but you will need proof of vaccination for your OV when they complete the AHC.
When you contact your OV, you will need to inform them about the country you are travelling to.
Although you can travel to more than one country, the vet will need to know which country you are entering the EU via, as the AHC needs to be specific to that country.
Your OV will then download the relevant AHC, complete the initial sections, and arrange to examine your dog.
The examination will be scheduled within 10 days of your dog’s travel date, as the AHC can only be issued within this timeframe.
If you are travelling to Malta, Finland, Norway, Ireland or Northern Ireland, your dog will need to be given a tapeworm treatment before travel.
This treatment has to be done no more than 120 hours before travel and not less than 24 hours.
Your OV will probably schedule your dog’s exam within this timeframe in that case.
Please note that if you are not intending for your pet to return to the UK, then you will need a different document called an Export Health Certificate (EHC).
In this case, you will need to request the document yourself from the APHA.
OK, so my visit is arranged, now what?
We're sorry to say that there is even more paperwork that you need to complete!
To ensure that your dog meets the requirements for entering the EU, your OV will need a copy of the proof that your dog has received a rabies vaccination.
If your dog was vaccinated elsewhere or a while ago, you might need to bring a certificate or report to your OV so that they can make a copy of it.
It's important to note that the proof document must include your dog's microchip number. In case you're not travelling with your dog, you'll need to prepare a written authorisation for the person who will be travelling with them.
The authorisation gives them permission to sign the declaration stating that your dog is not being transported for commercial purposes, i.e. to be sold.
You must be reunited with your dog within 5 days of travel. Please keep in mind that your dog is only allowed to enter the EU via an official Travellers Point of Entry.
For more information, please visit the following link here.
What will happen at the OV exam?
During your visit to the vet, your OV will scan your dog's microchip to make sure it matches with the information provided in the documents, including proof of rabies vaccination.
You will then be asked to check and sign the declaration of non-commercial travel.
Please note that your vet may not issue the AHC immediately as it takes time to copy the documents three times, obtain multiple stamps and signatures.
Your OV will let you know when the documents will be ready for collection. Once you have received your AHC, you are good to go with your doggo!
Whatever you do, don't forget to bring the documents with you!
Travelling with your furry friend can be enjoyable with some preparation and safety in mind. Here are some of our top tips for travelling:
- Start early: Get your dog accustomed to car rides as soon as possible.
- Stay safe: Use a crash-tested travel restraint/seat belt to ensure your dog's safety in case of an accident.
- Think about food: Give your pup enough time to digest dinner before traveling.
- Plan for breaks: Take frequent breaks to allow your dog to stretch their legs and go to the toilet And never leave your dog alone in the car under any circumstances.
- Keep your dog cool: Make sure your car is well-ventilated and never allow your dog to stick their head out of the window as this can be dangerous.
How do I train my dog to travel in the car well?
It's important to give your doggo enough time to adjust to your chosen safety restraint such as a crate or harness while making it a positive experience.
Reward your dog's calm behavior while they are in the restraint.
If your dog experiences travel stress, you can use calming supplements such as Buddy Calm Care to provide extra support.
These supplements are recommended by our in-house vet team and are made up of natural ingredients.
This includes Valerian Root Extract which is proven to soothe and ease anxiety, L-Tryptophan and L-Theanine amino acids that help reduce anxiety and stimulate the production of serotonin, which makes dogs happy.
You can also use pheromones like those in Adaptil sprays or collars to keep your dog calm during journeys.
Once your canine companion is comfortable with the restraint, you can introduce them to the car while it's stationary.
Always reward them when they're calm and make sure they sit calmly before opening the door or boot.
This way, you can guide them safely into the car whenever you're ready. It might take a few attempts before they remain calm, but don't give up.
Remember to reward them with lots of treats and fuss when they do well. Spend some time with them inside the car, perhaps giving them something tasty to chew or using a puzzle feeder.
When you eventually get out, reward them for sitting calmly until you're ready and for getting out calmly. Slowly progress to moving in the car by taking short trips only.
Remember that it might be overwhelming for them at first, so take it easy and drive slowly and gently.
Take them somewhere fun, so the journey has a happy ending. Some dogs, especially puppies, may feel travel sick, which can be unpleasant.
Signs include drooling, swallowing, or vomiting each time they are in the car.
It can be made worse if they have a full tummy, so leaving a gap between food and travel can help.
If your dog experiences travel sickness, vets can recommend medicines that can be given prior to your trip to prevent it from happening
If despite all your efforts, your dog still seems to be very scared of travel, don't force them. It may be best to work with a qualified dog behaviorist to overcome their fear of travel.
What about planes, trains and ferries?
Travelling with your furry friend can be a pleasant experience for both of you. In general, most dogs prefer to have their owners around during the journey.
Some trains and ferries offer dog-friendly cabins, while others allow you to stay with your car as you cross the Channel Tunnel.
It is also possible to take your dog with you in the cabin on some flights, but it's important to research and choose a dog-friendly route.
Also it isn't safe for some breeds to fly so it may no be possible depending on what dog you have.
Planning ahead is crucial; allow plenty of time at the terminal, plan toilet breaks before departure, and as soon as possible on arrival.
Your dog's comfort should be a priority during travel. Bring a comfy bed, toys, and distractions, and don't forget to pack water and an anti-spill bowl.
If you have to leave your dog in a kennel, make sure to provide familiar toys and clothes that smell of you to help them settle.
Additionally, pheromones can be useful in calming your pet's anxiety.
How can I stop my dog overheating on journeys in warm weather?
We all know the saying "dogs die in hot cars". As dogs cannot sweat, they can easily overheat in any enclosed space.
The key to keeping your dog safe is good ventilation. Use the air conditioning or open the windows to ensure a flow of air.
However, it's important to not let your dog hang out of the windows.
Choose to travel during the coolest parts of the day and consider using cooling beds.
Take regular stops so that your dog can stretch their legs and provide them with fresh water each time.
The Medical Bit
Heck Yes! You and your best bud are going on a holiday abroad! You will get to enjoy new food, culture, and experiences. And meet lots of different doggos and people.
However, it is crucial to be prepared for any potential health risks.
- Before you go, research the diseases that are common in the country you are visiting, both for yourself and for your dog.
- Make sure you take necessary precautions to protect yourself and your pet from any potential risks. For instance, biting flies, ticks, and tapeworms are prevalent across the EU, so it's important to use parasite protection to safeguard your dog.
- Additionally, consider how you will prevent heatstroke and keep your pet cool in warm weather.
- Also, keep in mind that while your dog may be protected against rabies, you may not be. Therefore, take appropriate measures to avoid any potential risks.
What do I need to worry about?
The tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis is spread by foxes, but it can also infect dogs. If dogs are infected, they can pass it on to humans and cause a potentially fatal condition called alveolar echinococcosis.
The infection is usually caused by contact with faeces (poo), but worm eggs can also sometimes be found on dogs’ coats if they have been rolling in fox poo.
The UK is considered echinococcus-free, so if you are returning to the UK with your dog, it is essential to have them wormed with a treatment for tapeworm.
Even if you are staying abroad for a long time, a dewormer should be used monthly as a preventative treatment.
Ticks can carry three diseases found in Europe that are not found in the UK: Babesia canis, Erlichia canis, and Hepatozoon. These infections can lead to anaemia and bleeding.
In addition, a type of tick found in Europe, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, is not found in the UK and can be found indoors in homes and kennels, increasing the risk of infestation and infection.
Sandflies (found in coastal areas of the Mediterranean) can carry a parasite called Leishmania Infantum, which can cause a potentially fatal disease.
Treatment, while possible, is lifelong.
Mosquitoes can carry the heartworm Dirofilaria immitis, which can cause heart failure, lung disease, and in the most severe cases, a blockage to one of the major blood vessels into the heart.
Your dog will be protected by their rabies vaccination, but you are not.
Therefore, your dog may attract unwanted attention from potentially infected wildlife or even feral dogs. If you get bitten, seek immediate medical advice.
These diseases may not cause symptoms until some time after you have returned home, and may require special tests to diagnose them.
And last but not least!
It’s why we go abroad, but it is worth remembering that dogs need to acclimatise too, and they cannot take their coats off.
Shade, fans, cooling mats, and paddling pools can all help, but if your dog has a thick coat, even this might not be enough.
Like you would in the UK, avoid walks in the hottest part of the day to avoid heatstroke.
We cannot always prevent our pets from catching diseases abroad, but we can reduce the risk.
- Use tick prevention - there are several spot-on, tablet, and collar options for this. It is worth noting that if your dog swims frequently, this can stop spot-on and collar tick prevention treatments from working properly.
- Use a wormer - to prevent heartworm and there parasites. Start one month before you travel, and continue for one month after you return. Remember you will need a dewormer that treats tapeworm to return to the UK, make sure you find a vet that can administer this in the country you are travelling to before you travel.
- Avoid sandflies - by keeping your dog indoors at dawn and dusk during May to September.
- Use fly repellent containing synthetic pyrethroids - this does not prevent disease entirely, but it may help to reduce fly bites. Some collars contain both fly repellent and tick prevention.
There are several product options available for tick, fly bite, and heartworm prevention. There is also a vaccine for Leishmania now available in the UK.
This does not stop dogs from getting the disease but reduces the risk of them getting an active infection and symptoms.
Talk to your vet or a Buddy vet nurse to work out the best prevention strategy for your dog.
Then all that's left to do is pack and prepare for a fantastic, stress-free holiday with your pooch!