If you are planning a trip to England, Scotland or Wales with your dog, this extensive guide provides you with all the information you need for a stress-free and enjoyable trip.
Official entry requirements
For a long time, taking a dog to Britain for a holiday was unthinkable, as strict quarantine regulations applied. But since these regulations were relaxed in 2000, Britain has become a popular destination for dog owners. With a further loosening of the rules effective since 1st January 2012, bringing your dog to Britain has become as easy as travelling to any other European destination.
When travelling to Britain with your pet there are a series of steps you need to consider, both for their welfare and to comply with legal requirements.
What your pet will need when entering Britain from another EU country:
A microchip or tattoo (only if tattooed before 3rd July 2011) with identification number
Rabies vaccination (you have to microchip your pet before the vaccination and wait 21 days from the date of the vaccination before travelling)
Pet passport (you can get this from your vet)
Tapeworm treatment must be given between 1 and 5 days before travelling to Britain. The treatment is not necessary if you travel from Finland, Ireland, Malta or Norway
A blood test and a tick treatment are no longer required for dogs entering Britain from an EU country. This has reduced the preparation time for a trip from 6 months to only 21 days (time between rabies vaccination and allowed entry date).
Other rules apply if more than five dogs are being taken into the country or if you are travelling from a non-EU country.
There are some strict regulations over dog types not allowed into Britain. This ban applies not only to dogs of specific breeds, but also to dogs with similar appearances. Heavy penalties may incur, so owners the following breeds or similar dogs must be aware:
- Pitbull Terrier
- Japanese Tosa
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
For further details about banned dog types and penalties, click here.
Should your pet not satisfy all the entry requirements, it will be placed into quarantine and you will be required to pay all incurring expenses.
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The British are known as a dog-friendly nation, with many animal lovers and organisations dedicated to our four-legged friends. And with a population of 8.5 million dogs living in the UK, you are sure to come across some friendly local dog owners during your walks across the beautiful British countryside.
Driving with dogs
A lot of tourists visiting the UK with a dog come by car in order to have maximum freedom while travelling around the country, and the website Driving with Dogs provides dog owners travelling by car with all information you could need. In addition to over 400 walks within 7km of nearly every exit on the motorway network, the site offers a lot of other useful information, so be sure to have a browse while planning your trip.
Lezli Rees from Driving with Dogs has kindly provided her highlights along the British motorways:
“Distances in the UK are small and it’s just 800km on the motorways from Dover on the South Coast to Edinburgh in Scotland. But don’t be tempted to rush your journey. England is a patchwork of tiny but distinct regions, each with a unique combination of landscape, tradition and food. By planning to start your vacation the moment you drive away from the channel terminus you’ll really make the most of your trip. Your dog and family will enjoy exploring the British countryside the best way – on foot.
Just a few kilometres from the Eurotunnel terminus is Brockhill Country Park- M20 Junction 11, ideal for your dog to get his first sniffs of Britain, and for drivers to take a break before starting a long journey on the left side of the road. Drivers arriving at Dover ferry port are only minutes away from Samphire Hoe park (A20), with easy parking and outstanding views of the famous White Cliffs of Dover from the coastal trails.
Heading north to Scotland’s west coast? Take a walk along the Hadrian’s Wall path before a meal in a typically rural country pub – just a few kilometres from Junction 44 of the M6.
The M4 motorway leads to Wales. St Fagan’s outdoor museum near Junction 33 is amazing. Dogs are welcome throughout, and delicious Welsh breads and cakes are sold from the museum bakery.
Visitors with a motorhome or caravan may prefer the easy parking at motorway services. Dog facilities here can be limited, but a few service stations have easy access to country walks. From South Mimms Services (M25 and A1M) you can walk to a hidden nature reserve; Tibshelf Services on the M1 gives access to the Five Pits Trails, with plenty of space for dogs to run off- lead.”
Britain is well known for its hiking spots, which make it a perfect holiday destination for owners and their dogs. Some of the most popular hiking destinations worldwide are Cornwall and Scotland.
Cornwall is so popular amongst dog owners that the official Cornish tourist authority has produced a resource guide for dog owners, where you can find information about dog-friendly accommodation, activities, and events. If you are interested in finding out more information, visit Dogs Love Cornwall.
Another highly rated location for dog owners, endorsed by VisitScotland, is Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, where you can admire panoramic views of the landscape including the picturesque lake scenery.
The National Trust website allows users to refine their search to show only dog-friendly sites. Many of these sites, accessible with a National Trust Touring Pass, are greatly recommended by outdoor enthusiasts for the richness of the activities.
One example of the great locations you can find on the site is the Studland Beach in the beautiful county of Dorset, where you can enjoy sandy beaches with your dog.
After a long day exploring the landscape, if you fancy putting your feet up with a nice hot drink and some delicious pub food, the website DoggiePubs will provide you with a list of reviewed pubs which welcome dogs. You can search by location depending on where you're staying
Should your dog require any medical treatment, RCVS offers a great service to track down the closest veterinary care to you. Just click here to be directly directed to the relevant page.
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General travel advice for dogs
Do not give your dog any food for 2 hours before the trip, no matter if you are travelling by car, plane, ferry or any other means of transport
Train your dog to become used to his transport box
Take a special ID tag for your dog’s collar on which you state your UK contact details
In the Eurotunnel
If you're travelling on Eurotunnel le Shuttle, any type of dog is accepted
Your pet stays by your side in your vehicle during the 35 minutes crossing
Five pets per person are permitted to travel to and from France unless you are taking part in a competition, show or sporting event
No fee applies for assistance dogs
There are dedicated pet exercise areas to give your dog a break!
Did you know?
On the ferry
As regulations vary depending on the company you choose to travel with, please inform yourself about the specifics before even booking your ferry crossing
Dogs mostly have to stay in the vehicle during crossing or are accommodated in a special “dog hotel”
A dog can become seasick just like humans, it is advisable to test their reaction on home waters and if they do suffer, contact your vet who will be able to supply medicine
Extra charges apply except for assistance dogs
In the car
If your dog is not used to car rides, some training is necessary to get him used to the feeling as well as making sure he stays calm even during longer routes
A dog is safest in a secured transport box in the back of the car or on the back seat with a seat belt for dogs (only advisable for dogs that stay calm during travel)
Homoeopathic medicine may ease your dog’s car sickness
In summer, even the weather in the UK can cause the temperature inside cars to be dangerous for dogs, so please try not to leave your dog alone in the car at any time
If you must leave your dog in the car for even a few minutes, make sure to park in the shade and keep 2 or more windows ajar
On the plane
If your dog is neither very small (normally between 5-10 kg) nor an assistance dog, he will have to travel in the cargo hold. As this can be a stressful experience, experts usually advise against travelling by plane whenever it is possible.
If flying however is the only available option, these are the most important points to note:
Transport boxes are usually not provided by the airline or airport, so you must provide your own
Your box must be well ventilated and be large enough for the dog to lie down, stand and turn around
Be aware that low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet do not allow any dogs apart from assistant dogs on their planes
Dogs on trains, buses and the underground
- Dogs are generally welcome on trains, city buses and the London underground as long as there is enough space and there is no reason to believe that they pose a threat.
- Dogs travel free of charge and do not need a special ticket
- They need to be under the owner’s control at all times
- They must be put on a lead or transported in a suitable transportation box
- Intercity coach services (e.g. National Express or Megabus) cannot accommodate dogs and therefore only allow assistant dogs on their buses
Packing list - the essentials
All necessary documentation (passport, medical insurance and health certificate)
Seat belt clip for car travel
Temporary ID tag
Bowl for water
Medication for travel sickness
Any other necessary medication
Old blanket to cover a sofa at your holiday accommodation
Towel(s) for drying your dog after a walk or a visit to the beach
Dog food (especially for fussy or sensitive dogs)
Bags to clean up after your dog
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