General Advice

Whenever animals are transported, including journeys with dogs, the law says that: ‘No person shall transport any animal in a way which causes or is likely to cause injury or unnecessary suffering to that animal.’ You should plan for travelling with your dog well before the journey. Think carefully about the type of journey it is and the effect that it will have on your dog, taking into account how big the animal is, its nature, and how long the journey is. 

Consider carefully whether you can fully protect your pet’s welfare on the journey. If you’re unsure, it might be best to leave your dog with a dog sitter or kennels instead. 

Make sure that you know and understand the carrier’s conditions for transporting your dog, and that you have booked a place for it to travel if necessary. If you book a package holiday with us, we'll advise you of the carrier's conditions and will confirm the booking of your dog on your chosen operator. If you book your own travel arrangements, you must travel on an authorised route with an approved carrier. Let us know if you're travelling with an assistance dog - so we can make any special arrangements you need.

Make sure your dog is fit to travel

Your dog should be healthy and fit for the intended journey. If necessary, ask your vet for advice before beginning the journey. An animal is not normally fit for transport if it: 

  • is ill or injured (except for minor illness or injury) 
  • is newborn with an unhealed navel 
  • cannot feed itself and is not travelling with its mother 
  • has given birth within the 48 hours before starting the journey 
  • is heavily pregnant and likely to give birth during the journey
  • Your dog must be at least 12 weeks old to go on holiday with you. They need to have a rabies vaccination before travelling, and this can’t be administered to puppies younger than 12 weeks.

Before the journey 

  • Provide a light meal about two hours before the journey starts - your dog will travel better if it does not have a full stomach.
  • Make sure water is available at all times.
  • Do not give your dog sedatives - it is difficult to predict the effect that the sedative will have on the dog. You should follow your vet’s advice about sedatives. If you do give your dog a sedative, you should carry a certificate which states the drug, dosage, and the date and time it was given.
  • Make sure your dog has been to the toilet just before leaving or before boarding.
  • Introduce your dog to its travel enclosure or container before travelling, as this should help reduce the stress of transport. A familiar object (for example, a toy or a cloth) may help your dog to settle into strange surroundings.

How can you recognise overheating?

The first signs are often faster, heavier panting and more activity, with barking or whining. Dogs will look obviously agitated. The dog may produce more saliva than normal, often with drooling and with strands of saliva hanging from the mouth. Extreme panting and dark-coloured gums will follow. The dog’s eyes may become glassy and it may appear to be unconscious. It is important to recognise these symptoms quickly and obtain medical assistance. If left unchecked, overheating can result in death.

Heatstroke in dogs

Dogs differ from people in how they cope with heat. They lose heat mainly by panting and, unlike people, do not sweat a lot. Dogs with snub noses (for example, Pekinese) or dogs with breathing problems are much more likely to suffer from heat stress. Long-haired dogs are more likely to be affected than those with short hair. 

Never leave an animal in a vehicle in direct strong sunshine or high temperatures. Overheating, distress and suffering is likely when the temperature goes above 25°C for more than a few minutes (unless the animals are already used to hot weather). The temperature inside a car in full sun on a hot day can quickly rise to double the temperature outside, leading to distress for any animal in the vehicle. 

Detecting overheating early and treating it promptly is essential to your dog recovering successfully. Take the dog to a cool shaded place, give it water to drink and spray it with cool water (you can also cool down the dog by blowing cool air from a fan over it). Get advice from a vet immediately if the dog does not respond promptly.

Travelling by vehicle

The ‘Highway Code’ states: ‘When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you if you stop quickly’. 

In some European countries, the law does not allow dogs to travel loose in vehicles at all. 

A container is usually the most suitable way to transport your pets. Very small dogs should always travel in a container, and the container should be placed where it: 

  • cannot move when you accelerate, brake and go round corners
  • is easy to get to 
  • is not exposed to strong sunlight or cold draughts

If your dog travels loose in the vehicle, it should not be able to escape through any window. If you need to leave windows open, ‘window guards’ can prevent your pet from escaping. If the dog is travelling in the luggage compartment of an estate car or hatchback, you should fit a secure dog-guard, and the floor should have a non-slip surface. Providing enough ventilation at all times is essential – both when the vehicle is moving, and even more so when it is not moving – particularly in hot or sunny conditions. 

  • Never leave your dog in a vehicle in direct strong sunshine or high temperatures as it is difficult to make sure there is enough ventilation to keep it cool 
  • There will be much less air flowing through the vehicle when it is in an enclosed space during ferry crossings (or on a train travelling through the Channel Tunnel) unless you leave the windows open enough. You should carry water, and food if necessary, and have a way of giving these to your dog.

Travelling by ferry

  • Try and get to the port early so that the carrier can give you the most suitable position in the car deck for your dog 
  • Travel overnight if possible, when the temperature may be cooler 
  • Make sure that the ferry company officials responsible for loading know that there is a live animal in your vehicle, and follow their instructions Before you leave your vehicle, make sure that your dog will have enough ventilation (normally you will need to leave at least one of the vehicle’s windows partly open, but it is also important to make sure your dog cannot escape) 
  • Make sure your dog is comfortable and has enough water 
  • Never leave your dog in a vehicle in direct strong sunshine or high temperatures. The inside of a vehicle left in strong sunlight on an open deck, or in an enclosed deck where the temperature is likely to be higher than 25ºC for more than a few minutes, will very quickly become too hot for the animal inside and cause distress and suffering 
  • For safety reasons, you are not normally able to visit the vehicle decks while the ferry is at sea. However, you can arrange this if it is essential. The ferry company should tell you about its access policy. You shouldn’t need to check on your dog on shorter ferry crossings (less than two hours). However, if this is essential (for example, in severe weather conditions), you can ask permission from staff at the information desk. 
  • On longer ferry crossings (two hours or more) you should arrange (usually at the information desk) to visit your dog at suitable times to check on it and, if appropriate, to give it more water and food and an opportunity to exercise and go to the toilet. 
  • On very long ferry crossings (24 hours or more), or long voyages on other vessels, it is likely that the company will need to transfer your dog from your vehicle into a container in a special area of the vessel. The company should give you information about its policy (including who provides the container), and the procedure for visiting and looking after the animal during the voyage.

Travelling by train through the Channel Tunnel

Your dog will stay with you on the train, and should remain in your vehicle for the duration of the journey.

Travelling by air

Some airlines will carry pets as cargo, but we can’t arrange this for you, and it can be costly.

 

Documents required for pet travel

To take your dog abroad on a Eurocamp holiday, you need to get an animal health certificate (AHC) signed by an official vet. This document is proof that your dog has been microchipped and vaccinated.

Here are the steps you need to take to prepare your pet for travel:

  • Step 1 - Your dog should be microchipped already, but if they are not, get them microchipped so they can be properly identified. 
  • Step 2 - Have your dog vaccinated. Contact your vet at least a month before you travel to arrange a rabies vaccination and any other vaccinations your pet may need. After your dog has been vaccinated, you need to wait 21 days before they can travel. 
  • Step 3 - Get travel documentation. No more than 10 days before you travel, you’ll need to get an animal health certificate signed by an official vet. Remember to take proof of your dog’s microchipping and vaccination history. Not all vets can issue animal health certificates, so check with your vet first, or find one from the government’s official vet list. 
  • Step 4 - Tapeworm treatment. Before you return to the UK your pet must be treated against tapeworm. Treatment must be administered by a vet not less than 24 hours and not more than 120 hours (1-5 days) before your return journey. 
  • Step 5 - Arrange for your animal to travel with an approved transport company on an authorised route. These steps must be performed in the required order.

Health and welfare advice whilst overseas

Whilst almost all dogs that travel overseas experience no problems whatsoever, it is worth remembering that should you decide to take your dog out of the UK, it may be exposed to diseases which are not present in the UK. As an example, there are some diseases transmitted by the bite of ticks, and parasites such as heartworm and tapeworm. 

Your dog will have no natural immunity to such diseases and may therefore be more likely to succumb to them. But the steps above will help to minimise the risk.

We strongly recommend that you consult your vet about your dog’s fitness to travel before you take your dog abroad. Depending on where you are going, your vet may be able to advise you on preventative treatments, on any other precautions you need to take and how to look for signs of ill health in your dog. 

In the very unlikely event that your dog shows signs of illness after returning from abroad, explain where it has been so that your vet can consider the possibility of an illness not normally found in the UK. 

Remember though, thousands of dogs travel overseas every year without incident or illness.