Travelling abroad with your dog

Bulldog in carOver the summer, many people will be going on holiday overseas.  If you have a dog, you may want to enable them to accompany you.  Since the year 2000, dogs have been able to travel back to the UK from certain countries without having to undergo the six month stay in quarantine which was previously required.  The regulations were further relaxed in 2012.

The Rules

Pet passportThere are certain legal requirements for travelling with your dog under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS).

  1. Your dog will need a microchip implanted (this is now a legal requirement for all dogs in the UK anyway)
  2. A rabies vaccination given after the reading of the microchip.
  3. A Pet Passport issued by an Official Veterinarian (ask your veterinary practice as most practices will have at least one OV)
  4. A wait of 3 weeks after the rabies vaccination.  If the previous rabies vaccination in the passport has not lapsed, no wait is required.
  5. Travel by an approved route
  6. Your dog will need to be treated for tapeworms by a veterinary surgeon between 24 and 120 hours before arriving back on UK soil (this time range is very strict).  The vet will need to sign and stamp the relevant page of the passport.  Please note, this is not required if travelling from Ireland, Finland, Norway or Malta.  If you are going for a short trip (less than 5 days), you can do this treatment prior to travel.  In all cases, it is advised to re-treat within 28 days of returning to the UK.

Other considerations

Exotic diseases

The reason behind the laws listed above is to prevent certain diseases, which are a risk to human health.  These include rabies and the Echinococcus multilocularis tapeworm.  However, there are many other diseases found on mainland Europe and elsewhere which are a major risk to dogs (potentially fatal) and the precautions above do nothing to protect against these.

Most of these diseases are what is known as vector-borne.  This means that an insect or other parasite passes them from one animal to another.  Many of these creatures cannot currently survive in the UK climate which is why they are not a problem here.  However, with climate change there is a high risk of some of these moving into the UK so anyone taking their pet abroad has a responsibility, not only to there own pet but also to the millions of others who could be vulnerable if a parasite is imported accidentally.  There have already been cases of Babesiosis-infected ticks in the UK.  The main parasites in question are:

  • TickTicks transmit diseases such as:
  • Mosquitoes transmit diseases such as:
    • Heartworm
  • Sand-flies transmit diseases such as:
    • Leishmaniasis/Leishmaniosis

Ask your vet about suitable parasite treatments to protect your dog from these deadly diseases.  Also check your dog daily and remove any ticks you find with a tick hook as quickly as possible.

The weather

Dogs that have grown up in the UK may struggle with the change in climate abroad.  If you are heading to a hot place it might be best to leave your pet behind as they could suffer from heat stroke.  Always ensure that your dog has a shady place to rest and NEVER leave them in a car or caravan.  Click here for more information on how to keep your dog cool.

The journey

Some dogs get quite travel sick and stressed in the car so although taking them on holiday may seem like a nice thing to you, it might not be so great for your dog.  Think about the length of journey, how many stops you will be able to take and whether your dog is used to this kind of travel.  Is it also important to consider the safety of your dog in the car.


Make sure that your dog is still covered by your insurance company while travelling.  You may have to pay extra to add this to your policy.


Taking your dog on holiday with you abroad can be great fun and ensures that no one is left out.  However, there are important considerations to make to ensure that it is enjoyable for everybody and does not cause more problems.  If in any doubt, it is probably better for your dog to remain at home, either in kennels or with a dog sitter.

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