Going on holiday with your pet is the perfect way to ensure that your beloved four-legged friend doesn’t have to stay in kennels.  Dog holidays in the UK have seen an overall increase in popularity with more and more holiday cottages, hotels and private landlords welcoming dogs.

From dog friendly beach holidays to rural dog friendly caravan holidays, taking your dog away with you on holiday is the perfect way to see some great scenery, give your dog some great exercise in new surroundings and help you to relax.  If you’re planning to take your dog on a short break or holiday there are a few things you need to consider first.

Take a look at our ultimate guide to travelling with your dog.

Pet Travel Tips

Travelling for pets can be particularly depressing so it is important you take extra care to ensure your pet is as comfortable as possible.

No matter where you’re heading or for how long, the most important thing is to make sure your dog is microchipped so it can be easily identified.

If you’re planning on taking your pet by car or train, there are several things you can do to help them have a comfortable journey and a few things you should know before you set off.

Taking your pet on holiday by By Car

Travelling by car with your dog is very common but it takes more than just putting your pet in the car and heading off on your holidays.

Some dogs are used to travelling in a car to get to dog walks or the vets but it is important you prepare your dog for the long journey ahead.  You can do this by heading further afield for your pet walks and taking your dog with you on longer journeys.

 

Prepare a pet travel kit before setting off - you’ll need fresh water, a bowl, treats, a lead, ball, poo bags, any medication and a pet first aid kit.  Don’t forget to bring a comfy bed, a blanket and a toy for your pet.  In terms of water, we would advise taking bottled water from your home as giving you pet water from an unusual area may result in an upset stomach.  Don’t alter your pet's eating habits just because you’re travelling and stick to your dog's normal feeding times. 

Never leave your dog alone in a hot car!

This is one of the most important rules of taking your dog on a journey by car.  When you stop off at a service station if you’re unable to take your dog with you, ensure you leave a window open slightly and make sure you’re no longer than 30 minutes.  If it is a warm day, shorten this time and be sure to park your car in a sheltered area away from direct sunlight.  Cars trap heat in the sun and can become a sauna if left in the heat!

Taking your dog/pet on holiday by train

Travelling within the UK by train is relatively straight forward and their rules on pet travel are quite relaxed.

Virgin Trains allow up to two dogs on board per passenger, without any additional costs and this is pretty similar across all train companies.  You should make sure you have some fresh water and a lead to keep your dog close to you.  Before you travel you should also aim to take your dog for a long walk so they can relieve themselves and tire themselves out before the journey begins.

Be mindful that trains are a mode of public transport and some people do not like, are scared of or are allergic to dogs.  If your pet is being a nuisance try and control the situation before upsetting other travellers and it’s always courteous to ask if anyone in your carriage or immediate surroundings are OK with you having a dog with you.

What to Take with you on a dog friendly holiday

If you’re taking your pet away on holiday, then you will more than likely have all of the pet supplies you need with you.

You should have fresh water, food, treats, comfortable bedding, poo bags and a crate with you when travelling with pets.

You should make sure you have your pet documentation on hand as well as any insurance policies with the emergency contact information of your local vets.  Before setting off on your travels, take a quick look at vets located in and around your destination to ensure that you know where to go and who to call in case of an emergency.

Health & Wellbeing of your pet on holiday

Dogs can make the best travel companions but it is important you take good care of them.  The health and wellbeing of your pet is of the utmost importance and should be considered in advance of your trip.

If you’re heading on a long-haul journey or travelling to a warmer or cooler climate than your pet is used to, you should consult your vet to conduct some health checks to ensure your pet is fit to travel.

Depending on the length of your journey, you should plan regular drink and toilet breaks for your dog.  It is important your dog is able to stretch its legs, go to the toilet and keep hydrated during the journey.  We recommend stopping every hour to ensure your dog is a happy travel companion.

Dogs are typically very active animals and if left for a number of hours with no activity, their energy levels will rise.  No one wants to travel with a barking dog or one who is constantly fussing you.  For this reason, take a ball with you and if your dog is beginning to become restless, stop off and enjoy some fast-paced exercise, which is where the ball comes into play.

Documentation You Need

If you are travelling to the UK with your pet dog, double check the rules and regulations about travelling with a pet.

There are a number of things you may need, as well as rules and regulations you will need to familiarise yourself with including:

  • Microchipping you dog.
  • Pet passports and other documents.
  • Pet insurance policy.
  • Information on Guide and Assistance dogs.
  • Essential vaccinations your dog will need prior to entering the UK.

Does your doggy need a pet passport?

If you’re going on a trip which either brings you in or takes you out of the UK, then you’ll need to make sure your pet has its very own passport.

A pet passport, in short, is an official document, unique to your pet.  The passport includes information such as details of the registered owner, and a number of health-related aspects including certification of rabies vaccination, blood tests and tick and worm treatments, which are only required in specific circumstances.

You only need to get your pet its own passport if you plan on travelling outside of the UK.  In addition, the UK is now free from rabies, which means that routine vaccination of dogs for this disease is no longer a requirement.

The passport is a small blue book filled with pages like your own passport with details of your pet’s microchip number, rabies vaccinations, blood tests and tick and worm treatments.  There is also a page for a photo of your pet, but this isn’t compulsory as your pet’s microchip acts as the formal identification.

There are a few requirements your pet has to meet before being granted a doggy passport; 

  • Your pet needs to be at least 3 years of age.
  • Your pet needs to have a microchip located under the skin issued by a vet
  • Be vaccinated against rabies.

There is a 3 week qualification period which means that although you may have completed all three steps above, the UK requires a further 3 week qualification period before travel is permitted to and from the UK.

The Pet Passport requires regular rabies boosters which are generally every 2-3 years but this does depend on the type of vaccination so check with your vet.  Some countries require yearly rabies boosters - check before you travel.

Insurance Information for your pet on holiday

Taking out pet insurance is possibly the best thing you can do for your beloved four legged friends!

It can be quite daunting at first with so many insurance options and providers out there but it is essential you make sure your pet is fully covered.

There are a number of pet insurance comparison sites online which allow you to select your requirements and pet profile, giving you an overview of a number of policies.

When taking out pet insurance, always read the fine print and make sure your pet meets the requirements as any discrepancies may result in the policy being cancelled when you need it!

If your pet is already insured, make sure you check that they are covered for travel and if the policy is still valid in another country.  This should be checked as soon as possible, as some insurers may require a full health check-up before you leave, which can take some time.

Just as you need your documentation and details of any health insurance before you go away, make sure you have your dog’s health and travel insurance documents on hand with any useful numbers written somewhere where they can be easily accessed.

How to Help a Travel-scared Pet

Believe it or not, just like humans, dogs can get travel sick.  It is important your dog is as comfortable and happy as can be during the trip you take but sometimes dogs just don’t like travelling.

Whether they’ve had a bad experience in a car before, don’t like the motion or become scared of the confined space, it is your responsibility to make your pet’s journey as smooth as possible.

You can help soothe your pet by regularly talking to them and letting them know that you are there.

If your pet is affected by travel sickness, just like humans are, then medication may be required beforehand.  This should be discussed in detail with your vet beforehand and you should adhere to the prescription quantities.

If your pet suffers from anxiety this can be helped by both yourself as the dog owner and by your vet, depending on the severity of anxiety.  If this anxiety is less severe, you can try to make the journey less daunting and scary by rewarding your dog and trying to make a car journey a pleasant experience.  Use the car to go on walks or leave the boot open (if you have a secure garden) with toys, treats and a bed in for your dog to enjoy when not on a trip.  This helps to reinforce the fact that cars are not bad and there is nothing to afraid of.

Picking the Perfect Accommodation for your dog on holiday

Dog-friendly short breaks and holidays are becoming more and more common.

There is nothing better than going on a trip to the countryside with your dog by your side and spending days on end walking, going to pub lunches and relaxing in front of an open fire.

More and more hotels, cottages and private renters are allowing dogs to stay with you so you can spend every moment with your pooch. You can often grab a bargain on a hunt for last minute dog friendly holidays UK if you're able to be flexible on holiday start dates. 

The UK has a great choice of National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and spectacular stretches of coastline all offering great dog walking territory.  You’ll find a huge choice of dog friendly holidays in Wales or stay in one of the many dog friendly log cabins in the Lake District.

You don’t need to compromise on other holiday extras when you’re looking for pet friendly accommodation.  No need to leave pooch behind on dog friendly holidays with hot tubs when you’ve hundreds of cottages with hot tubs across the UK welcoming four-legged friends too.

Treat yourself and your pet to a luxury 4 or 5 Star spa leisure break.  Many spa hotels have designated dog friendly rooms or you might find your pooch friendly cottage comes with inclusive use of local leisure facilities along with those essential pet features like an enclosed garden and easy access to walks and exercise areas. 

If you’re a family group looking for flexibility and luxury extras opt for dog friendly holidays with swimming pools.  You won’t have to look far to discover fabulous manor houses, villa retreats or large holiday lodges welcoming dogs, with use of an indoor or outdoor pool as part of the package.

There are a number of websites which offer advice on the best places to stay with your dog, and where to find the best dog friendly walks and attractions in the surrounding area.

If you are taking your dog on holiday with you there are a few basic common sense rules to follow to ensure your hosts are happy:-

  • Potty train your pet – it is best if you potty train your dog before taking them away as accidents in your own home are quite different to those in someone else’s house.  If they are not potty trained you can get some puppy pad mats which you can use before your upcoming trip to help train your dog.
  • Take some cleaning products – if your dog isn’t trained or you want to be on the safe side, take some cleaning products with you to clear up any mess and avoid any fees when you leave.  Take a carpet cleaner, air freshener, anti-bacterial cleaner, a few cloths and strong kitchen roll.
  • Pack some toys – this may sound obvious but take lots of toys and bones for your dog to play with whilst you’re on holiday. This will give your four-legged friend something to do and be distracted by at night, when you go for dinner or when you go out. The last thing you want is your dog chewing the legs of all the furniture in your rented house!
  • Don’t forget the bed – if you’re unsure how your dog will be on holiday when left at night, you should take a crate bed.  This will just ensure that no harm can be done to someone else’s property and may save you a big bill at the end of your trip.

Things to do on holiday with your dog

There are many things you can do with your pet whilst on holiday and this really depends on where you go.

From taking your dog with you on a mountain hike to heading to the beach or taking your dog on a long-boat, the possibilities for keeping your dog entertained are endless.

Of course, when on holiday with your dog, walking is usually the main focus and we’re sure you’ll find an abundance of parks, forests and beaches to explore with your pet.  There are a number of dog walking guides, dog-friendly pub guides with accompanying walks and so on which can be found on the internet.  This is a great way to plan your trip around your dog and ensure that they too are having the best holiday.

If you want to be a little more adventurous with your dog then you can always take your dog on a hike, depending on their health and fitness.  You can even go camping with your dog and go on exciting excursions - just make sure you check that dogs are welcome in attractions, on beaches or in accommodation.

Sailing and long boat trips have again seen an increase in popularity recently and it’s no surprise why.  These trips are great for dog holidays and if your dog is fine with travel sickness then they should be happy to enjoy the seas and sights of the rivers with you. Although not usually that big, depending on the size of your boat, your dog will still have space to wander around and stretch its legs, just make sure every couple of hours you are able to get off the boat and give your dog a good run to burn off any built-up energy and go to the loo.

So there you have it, the ultimate pet travel guide to help you and your dog have the best possible holiday.