Taking your pet on holiday

The rules on taking your dog or cat abroad changed on 1 January 2021. Make sure you know the new rules before you go on holiday.

Whether you take your pet on holiday or leave them in the care of a responsible person, it's important to do what you can to keep your pets happy and stress-free. Many pets will find the change in routine, environment and travelling stressful, so you'll need to decide what's best for them.

If you're thinking about taking your dog on holiday, make sure you plan before you book. Cats, rabbits and small animals who aren't familiar with travelling and visiting new places shouldn't be taken on holiday, because the experience is likely to be too stressful for them.

Taking your pets abroad

The rules for taking a dog, cat or ferret abroad vary depending on the country you're going to or coming from. For more information, read the Government's guide to taking your pet abroad, or call the Pet Travel Scheme helpline on 0370 241 1710.

Your pet will need to be vaccinated against diseases we don't have in the UK, including rabies. Ask your vet for advice. Your pet passport is no longer valid.

Find out about the diseases your pet may encounter abroad in the Animal Welfare Foundation leaflet 'Taking your pets abroad'.

Travelling to the EU or Northern Ireland with a pet

Pet passports are no longer valid. You'll need a new animal health certificate from your vet for each journey you make to Europe or Northern Ireland - whether your pet has travelled there before or not.

You'll need to take your pet to the vet to get the certificate, and this needs to be done no more than 10 days before you travel. You should plan well in advance, as vets are very busy at the moment and may not be able to fit in appointments at short notice.

Note: if your pet hasn't previously travelled, or their rabies vaccination is out of date, you'll need to visit your vet at least 21 days before travel. You'll need a microchip and rabies vaccination. Your pet must be at least 12 weeks old to get the rabies vaccination. After the rabies vaccination, you cannot travel for 21 days.

Tapeworm treatment required for certain countries

Your pet will also need a tapeworm treatment if you're travelling to:

  • Ireland
  • Northern Ireland
  • Finland
  • Malta
  • Norway

Your pet will need an appointment with a vet for this treatment between 24 hours and five days before you arrive in that country. You may be able to get this done when you get the Animal Health Certificate if the timings allow.

Pet checks before your holiday

  • Check where you're staying has everything your pet needs, including an emergency contact for a vet and 'out of hours' service.
  • Visit your vet at least one month before travel. Ask your vet to ensure your pet's vaccinations, flea and worm treatments are up-to-date. Your vet will issue a health certificate that must be used within 10 days of being issued.
  • As well as being microchipped, your pet should wear a collar with an identity tag with your name, holiday address and contact details, so if they get lost you can be reunited as quickly as possible.

Help your pet have a safe, stress-free journey: see our factsheet on transporting your pet.

Taking your dog on holiday

Holidays are a great way to spend time with your dog, but not all dogs will like the change and may not have as much fun as you will. Think about things like their age and health before booking, as sometimes it may be a better idea to have someone look after your dog whilst you're away.

Check with your vet to make sure that your dog is fit and healthy to travel and can keep up with the sorts of activities you'll be doing away.

Before taking your dog

  • Check the weather - dogs need to be protected from getting heatstroke.
  • Ask for the hotel policy of where you're staying. Let them know you're bringing a dog and ask what facilities they offer for pets, so you know what items you may or may not need to take.
  • Look up local dog-friendly activities and places like pubs, cafes.
  • Take a familiar-smelling object like a blanket, favourite toys and treats.

On holiday with your dog

  • Try to keep to their regular routine as much as possible (same walk times, food, toilet breaks).
  • Keep them on the same diet as at home as a sudden change can cause them an upset stomach.
  • Place the familiar-smelling item you took in your dog's bed or where they'll spend a lot of time - this will help them feel secure in an unfamiliar place.
  • Give your dog the time they need to explore their new surroundings.
  • Don't leave them alone for a time that might cause them distress.
  • Let them rest - during all the fun and excitement of the holiday make sure your dog has lots of time to rest undisturbed in a quiet and comfortable space.

Keeping your dog safe on holiday

  • Walk your dog on a lead unless you're sure it's safe to let them off away from roads and other potential hazards.
  • If walking in the dark or in dim light, have an LED collar or light attached so others can see your dog.
  • Regularly check their behaviour, as any changes may mean they're bored, stressed or ill.
  • Don't leave your dog where they could come to harm, such as tied up outside a shop in the heat.

Read more about taking your dog on holiday and find out about pet-friendly holidays.

Taking other pets on holiday

If you decide to take your cat or small animal on holiday with you, read our top tips to make them feel safe and comfortable.

Taking a cat on holiday

Cats always need to be able to hide, as it helps them to feel safe. If your cat is staying away from home, give them hiding places such as an igloo bed or even a cardboard box.

Many cats get stressed being in their carrier. Help them learn to feel safe in their carrier by leaving it out in a quiet spot in the house, adding cosy bedding and regularly placing tasty treats and their favourite toys inside. When transporting your cat, always keep a familiar-smelling item in the carrier with them. 

Taking rabbits and small animals on holiday

  • Transport them together - if you do have to transport your rabbits or other small animals, move them with their familiar companion(s) to help reduce stress and avoid possible problems with re-introductions.
  • Transport small animals like hamsters in their home cage. If this is not possible, transfer them into a smaller, secure pet carrier.
  • Move some used, unsoiled nesting material into the travel carrier and new home - this will smell familiar to your pets and can be reassuring.
  • Food and drink - make sure that rabbits and small animals have constant access to food and water while they're on the move.
  • Keep them away from dogs and cats - make sure that they're kept well away from dogs and cats so that they don't get scared.

Getting someone to look after your pet while you're on holiday

If you think it's best to leave your pet at home while you're on holiday, find out who can look after your pet.

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