Post-Brexit an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) must be shown at the Eurotunnel terminal and at ferry ports to take dogs into Europe. Pricing, like PCR testing, widely: I’ve paid £250, £185 and £166 for my Jack Russell Dave T Dog’s certificates, and they were all identical. To qualify, your dog needs to be microchipped and have been vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before travel, and you must make an appointment with your vet to have both of the above certified no more than ten days before departure. Travel directly to Finland, Ireland, Malta, Northern Ireland or Norway and you’ll also need a tapeworm pill for your dog. The AHC is valid for four months.
European traffic laws state that dogs should be restrained in cars, either with a harness that can be clicked into a safety-belt buckle or in a safety-certified crate.
3. Check charges for ferry travel
In most cases dogs are not allowed in public areas on ferries and must either remain in the car; print on-board kennels; or in pet-friendly cabins where available, and fees differ according to line. On Stena’s Harwich to Hook of Holland route you’ll pay £18 for a pet in a vehicle and £21 in the onboard kennels or in a pet-friendly cabin. After taking one look at the rows of cages, Dave took his chances overnighting on the car deck. But if you do put your dog in a Stena kennel you can tune into the Kennel Cam on the TV in your cabin and watch it howl from the comfort of your bunk.
Irish Ferries allows pets to travel free on the Irish Sea and cross-Channel services as long as the animal stays in the car. Kennels cost £15. DFDS charges £15 each way on routes from Dover, £18 each way on the Newhaven-Dieppe crossing and £30 each way on Newcastle-Amsterdam sailings. Pets travel free on the Irish Sea with Stena, which has heated kennels and allows dogs to be walked on deck. Brittany Ferries charges £29 each way to France if the dog stays in the car, and from £45 each way on Spanish routes, when pets must travel in a kennel or a pet-friendly cabin.
Book your pet in with a vet before you return to the UK
4. Find a vet abroad
Your dog needs a tapeworm pill and a stamp on their AHC before your return to the UK. The timing is important: book a visit to a local vet no more than 120 hours (five days) and no less than 24 hours before you board the ferry or Eurotunnel to return home. It’s quick and relatively inexpensive: from £8 to £13 in France, Spain and Portugal; £25 in Germany; and £50 in Switzerland.
Top tip: purchase a spare tapeworm pill from the foreign vet if your dog has Dave’s knack of chewing the first tablet, swallowing noisily, making affirmative eye contact — and then spitting it out.
5. Is the dog covered?
If your dog is injured on holiday, falls ill, or, for example, lunges at a dalmatian from a French terrasse, leaving a trail of destruction as it drags the table to which it is attached like a dredger through the horror cafe (Dave T Dog, Lons-le-Saunier, August 29, 2021) — it’ll cost you. If it injures a person or causes an accident in which someone is hurt, it’ll cost a lot more. Third-party liability is included in many pet policies but accidents or incidents are usually excluded from cover so check the small print. If necessary, buy insurance from Direct Line, which offers maximum cover of £8,000 for three 30-day trips per year; Emporium, which offers the same for trips totalling 100 days; or Waggel, offering £10,000 for 90 days.
6. Muzzle up
Your mutt may need a muzzle. In Spain breeds such as dobermans, pitbulls and staffies must be muzzled and on a two-metre lead in public. In France, all but the tiniest dogs should ~be muzzled on public transport, and the same goes for Germany, although it is rarely enforced.
Stick to your dog’s usual exercise routine
7. Stick to the routine
Minimise any pet anxiety by keeping to the same feeding and exercise routines as at home, bringing favorite toys or blankets and giving them time to explore their new environment. In rented accommodation check for escape routes in fencing. It’s also worth investing in a tether cable and stake, both for cottage gardens and the beach to prevent them wandering.
Extract your dog with a Ruffle Snuffle mat
Essential travel kit for dogs
by Georgia Stephens
1. Perfect pitch
Many campsites require dogs to be on leads at all times — even though having a dog tethered to you while pitching a tent is likely to end in tears. The Knot-a-Hitch system incorporates the same components used in climbing, such as a swivelling carabiner, to secure your dog tangle-free between two trees, allowing them to roam around and explore their surroundings while you try not to mess up erecting the tent anyway. £75; ruffwear.co.uk
2. Warm up
As anyone who’s ever taken their dog to the beach will tell you, it’s not always easy to get them to sit (sit! sit!) still long enough for a towel dry after a swim. So try a dog-drying robe from Harbor Hounds. The wearable cotton towel could make your pup look as though it’s frolicking in a fetching Victorian bathing suit. Colors include sea blue, rock pink, navy and orange, with easy-to-use clip-stud fastenings. £30; harborhounds.com
Best dog friendly hotels in the UK
● The best dog-friendly holidays to Europe
3. Freshen up
Top marks for being responsible, but it’s still never acceptable to bound up to hotel reception with a small, pungent bag dangling from one hand. So what do you do if you’re caught out without a bin? Put it in a Dicky Bag — a lightweight neoprene container that promises to be smell and leak-proof. It’s “the civilized way to carry dog poop” according to the website — a phrase that might make you reconsider ever getting another dog again. But it works. £25; dickybag.com
4. Hide and seek
Get lost: the phrase sounds almost romantic when you’re traveling, but if your pooch goes Awol it’s more likely to induce white-knuckle horror. Keep track of your pup with a waterproof Tractive GPS tracker, which attaches to your dog’s collar and can accurately tell you where it is almost anywhere in the world. You can also set up a virtual fence, which means if your hound hoofs it, you’ll be alerted — perfect for camping. You’ll need a subscription (from £4 per month) because it works using mobile phone networks — but it’s worth it for the peace of mind. Available in white, beige and midnight blue. £45; tractive.com
5. Sniff out
Sure, that inviting-looking pub might be dog-friendly, but is your dog pub-friendly? If your pup just won’t sit still, or has a history of pilfering your roast potatoes, give them something else they can channel their energy into: a Ruffle Snuffle mat. Hide some treats, or your dog’s regular dried food, in the fleece folds, and they’ll be so preoccupied with sniffing them out that you can sip your pint in peace. The enrichment travel bag also includes a ball version of the mat, a tug toy and a rubber treat ball. £30; rufflesnufflemats.com
6. Bear the necessities
It’s good to make sure your dog always has what it needs — chews, Frisbee, water bowls — until you go away and have to lug it all around with you. Let them do some of the hard work. Ruffwear is known for its escape-proof harnesses (the flagline is my favorite), and it has a lightweight dog day pack with small saddlebags on either side. There’s also a lifejacket version, if you’re more into canoeing than hiking. £110; ruffwear.co.uk
7. Dogs’ dinners
If you’re worried about not being able to find your dog’s favorite food when you’re away, you’ll need to bring it with you — no small matter if you are going for more than a few days. Mobile Dog Gear’s ultimate week-away duffel will help you to keep things organized, with collapsible bowls, lined food-packing cubes and various zippered
pockets for delicacies. It also meets airline carry-on requirements, and can slip over the handle of your luggage. £50; lordsandlabradors.co.uk