In recent years, pet travel between Britain and other EU countries has opened up a great deal due to the introduction of pet passports, writes Melissa Hathaway. These documents allow properly vaccinated and health checked animals to travel abroad and (crucially) re-enter the UK without pets and owners having to go through the excruciating process of pet quarantine confinement.

This has allowed loving owners to take their pets with them when going on holiday. However, should you wish to take your beloved canine companion with you on holiday, there remain certain things to consider – the main question being: Do the benefits of taking your pet with you outweigh the problems and distress it may cause? In many cases, the answer is ‘Yes’. Although kennels are often extremely good, and many people can find kind neighbours to look after their pets in the familiarity of their own homes, some dogs find separation from their owners distressing.

dog beach photo

This is particularly true of rescue dogs which may have been passed from home to home in the past, and fear that each new separation will be forever. It’s not just the dogs who have separation problems, wither. A 2007 survey suggests that a massive 72% of owners worry about their pets when on holiday, and many are likely to take shorter holidays due to the need to return swiftly for the sake of a dog or a cat. Many people and pets thus clearly cannot relax properly when the human part of the partnership is away on holiday. For these people, pet passports are a boon. However, for those who have dogs with less separation problems, or less prone to personal worry about their dog’s welfare, there may be a few more factors to weigh up when deciding whether or not to take your dog abroad.


Transportation of animals to faraway locations is a perennial problem. People going on long-haul flights often worry that their animals will become distressed, confined in pet carriers and exposed to all the noise, pressure changes, strange smells and so on which are inherent in an aeroplane flight. Such things are often scary for people, and it is impossible to explain them to animals. Sedation is one option if the journey is not a long one, and most vets will be experienced in such matters and able to provide drugs which will either calm your animal or send them to sleep for the duration. It is well worth noting that animal protection legislation ensures that all European airlines have to treat your pets with the greatest care and respect – although this may not be true of airlines elsewhere in the world, so be sure to research your plane provider’s pet policies before booking a flight. Sea travel is another option, for those who have the time to spare. Some Transatlantic travellers have found an excellent solution to the transportation problem in the form of travel by boat. The British have long been renowned as avid pet-lovers, which perhaps explains why the British Cunard Line is the first in the world to allow animals onto a specially adapted cruise liner. The Queen Mary 2 has a ‘Pets on Deck’ programme, in which cats and dogs can be brought on board ship and treated like honoured guests for the duration of the voyage. The liner treats lucky pets to luxury kennels (with their own ‘butler), an indoor animal play-area, plentiful walks on deck, gourmet pet food, and frequent owner visiting hours. Ideal – if you can afford it!

Dangers and Diseases

When the pet passport scheme was first introduced, it was controversial due to the worry that it would allow diseases like rabies to re-establish themselves in the UK. Over the past few decades, the UK authorities have been extremely successful in eradicating dangerous animal-borne diseases from the British Isles. However, they remain at large in many other countries worldwide, raising concerns that the free movement of pets between such countries and the UK would undo the good work of the past few decades and once again see rabies sweep across Britain. However, the authorities were not immune to such concerns. The pet passport scheme ensures that only the most stringently health-checked and vaccinated animals are allowed to travel, and imposes restrictions upon countries were dangerous animal diseases are particularly prevalent. Nonetheless, you may want to have a look at the disease dangers for dogs within the nation you are planning to visit, and either have your dog vaccinated against them or take relevant precautions against them. Some dangers, of course, are not infectious, but no less dangerous for the health of your dog. Particular plants and fungi, deadly to dogs, grow in certain parts of the world. Take note of the kind of poison-hazards you may have to watch out for. Furthermore, be aware that road safety rules are not as stringently enforced in many places as they are in Britain – so it will be a good idea to keep your dog on a tight lead when near main roads!

Is Your Holiday Pet-Friendly?

Finally, the accommodation you stay in and the kind of activities you want to participate in are of extreme relevance. Is your hotel or apartment dog-friendly? If you plan to have a beach holiday, are there dog-friendly beaches? If you want to spend your time going round museums, who will look after the dog while you are out? If you’re going on a holiday with plenty of walking through the countryside – then that would naturally be a fantastic experience for your dog, and one on which it would be a shame for him/her to miss out!

Often Worthwhile

With all of this in mind, it should be remembered that, with the right consideration and precautions, taking your dog on holiday can be a fantastic experience. You will not be worried about your dog’s welfare at home, your dog will not be pining for you, and you will both get to enjoy all the delights that foreign climes have to offer.

Photo by kajo0069

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