Foreign Holidays with Dogs – 10 Top Tips for Travellers

Dogs on the beach

Although most people leave their dogs in kennels, with friends or family, or with a pet-sitter, an increasing number of owners are taking their pets abroad on holiday with them. And who can blame them? What better way to relax than to take your WHOLE family with you! However, it’s important to remember that there are legal and practical issues to bear in mind when travelling outside the UK. In this blog, we’re going to run through our 10 Top Tips for Travellers!

PETS Passport

If you’re going abroad and then coming back, your pet will need a PETS Passport. If you don’t have one that’s fully up to date, your dog will not be allowed back into the UK and will need to spend time in quarantine. Not every vet can issue your dog with a Passport, but most of our vets are registered OVs who have the official stamp and are allowed to make you one.

Do this as soon as possible before travelling – usually at least a couple of months, in case of any delays.


It’s essential that the passport can be linked to a specific dog – so your dog has to have a microchip that works. It is of course illegal for any dog NOT to have had a microchip inserted, but it’s really important to make sure it’s still working before you travel, and certainly before your dog’s rabies vaccine.

Ask one of our vets or nurses to double check – a failed chip can mean that the  passport is rejected and your dog has to spend time in quarantine.

Rabies Vaccination

Of course, the main reason for the existence of the passport scheme is to prevent rabies from coming into the UK. Your dog MUST have a rabies vaccine given after the microchip was inserted and the Passport was issued; the vaccine MUST also be boosted and up to date. If the vaccination lapses by a single day, they’ll need to go into quarantine before returning to the UK.

You need to allow 21 days AFTER the initial vaccine before you can re-enter the UK (or enter some other countries), to allow the vaccine to “take” – so make sure you get your Passport and rabies jab at least a month before travelling!

Rabies Blood Test

If you’re travelling inside the EU, or to certain other countries known as “Listed Countries” (see here), then you no-longer need a blood test to prove that the vaccine has worked (this is because experience has proved how reliable the vaccine used in the UK is). If, however, you’re going to any other country, you will need to get a blood test done and a certificate to say that their rabies antibody level was at least 0.5 IU/ml.

Other Health Documents

Some countries, e.g. Australia, have very, very strict disease prevention regulations, and may require additional vaccines, treatments, tests and paperwork before your dog is allowed in. In addition, your dog may require extra tests before returning to the UK from some countries (e.g. Malaysia).

As soon as you know where you’re going on holiday, contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency for advice! Our vets will also be able to help if needed.

Tick and Sandfly Protection

Although it isn’t a legal requirement, there are a lot of nasty diseases in other parts of the world that are spread by ticks and sandflies (e.g. Leishmania).

ALWAYS make sure your dog is protected with the most effective treatments available – talk to our vets for advice.

Travel Booking

Remember, not every airline (or even ferry!) will take pets – so sort out your booking as early as possible…

Remember too, that the cheapest isn’t always the best… If in doubt, get one of our vets to check the paperwork for you.

Sun and Heat Awareness

Dogs do not cope with heat as well as us (remember, they’re basically arctic animals), and can easily develop heatstroke, especially if suddenly whisked to a hot climate with no chance to acclimatise. Remember the importance of sunscreen too – dogs can get sunburnt, especially on their ears, noses and bellies.

Talk to one of the vets before going for advice about the climate you’ll be visiting!

Cultural Sensitivity

Sadly, not every country is as dog-friendly as the UK. In some places, dogs may be seen as unclean, or dangerous. In some areas, it may be a legal requirement to keep certain dogs on a lead, or wearing a muzzle – so make sure you understand the culture of the country you’re visiting.

If in doubt, check out the website of the country’s tourist board, or contact their UK Embassy or High Commission.

Tapeworm Treatment

1-5 days before returning to the UK, you’ll need to get a local vet to administer an authorised tapeworm treatment to prevent Echinococcus multilocularis getting into the UK. The vet will need to sign your dog’s Passport to say that this has been done. This doesn’t apply if you’re returning from Finland, Ireland, Malta or Norway, as the parasite isn’t found in these countries.

If in doubt, pop in and talk to one of our vets. Above all, though, have fun – you and your dog!

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