Travelling safely with your pet requires careful planning and preparation to ensure a stress-free and enjoyable journey for both you and your furry companion.

To help you travel safely together on any mode of transport, we’ve compiled this list of tips to help make your journey smooth and stress-free. You can read the whole thing, or click the links below to skip to the relevant section:

Travelling by car

Travelling by car with your pet can be convenient, but safety is paramount.

  • If your pet is in a carrier, ensure it is secured with a seatbelt. Make sure you test whether the carrier is at risk of moving after securing the belt over it.

  • If you have a larger pet, you can purchase a pet seatbelt that secures them to the car seat. You may decide to place your pet in the boot of the car instead – if you do this you can purchase a boot guard, but be aware that these protect your passengers, not your pet, in the event of an accident.

  • If the weather is hot, consider putting cold towels or a cooling mat in with your pet and parking in the shade wherever possible. Never leave your pet unattended in a hot car as this can quickly become fatal.
  • If you are travelling for an extended period, make sure your pet has access to clean water.

  • Stop regularly to check on your pet, especially if they have been vocal for a long period. Also ensure you take breaks during your journey to allow your pet to stretch their legs.

  • Make sure your pet has had enough time to digest their meal before travelling to avoid car sickness, and ensure they have gone to the toilet before the trip to avoid any unwanted messes.

Travelling by caravan

For longer journeys in a motorhome, preparation is key.

  • Ensure you have researched the flight and its requirements well in advance to avoid any additional costs and inconveniences.

  • Make sure you have the correct and up-to-date pet identification. As of 2004, an EU pet passport is required for travelling with animals within the EU. If you aren’t going to the EU, check the requirements of the country you’re travelling to. Additionally, since 2011, all animals travelling within the EU require a microchip and rabies vaccination. Ensure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date and verify these requirements before your flight. Speak to your vet before booking your flight to get a health check and schedule any necessary vaccinations. Keep your pet’s health and vaccination records with you to show before and after your flight.

  • Make sure your pet has a GPS collar or a name tag with your personal details in case they leave the vehicle and get lost.

Travelling by plane

Travelling by plane with your pet can be stressful for both you and your pet. If they have not flown before, they will be exposed to different temperatures, noises, and confined spaces. Here are some ways to reduce this stress:

  • Ensure you have researched the flight and its requirements well in advance to avoid any additional costs and inconveniences.

  • Make sure you have the correct and up-to-date pet identification. As of 2004, an EU pet passport is required for travelling with animals within the EU. If you aren’t going to the EU, check the requirements of the country you’re travelling to. Additionally, since 2011, all animals travelling within the EU require a microchip and rabies vaccination. Ensure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date and verify these requirements before your flight. Speak to your vet before booking your flight to get a health check and schedule any necessary vaccinations. Keep your pet’s health and vaccination records with you to show before and after your flight.
  • Give your pet plenty of exercise before heading to the airport. This can help them expend energy and will make them more likely to rest during the flight. Feed your pet a light meal a few hours before the flight to avoid travel sickness. Ensure they have access to water, but don’t overdo it.

  • Be mindful of where your pet will be staying during the flight. Smaller animals are usually able to stay in the cabin if they do not exceed the weight limit of 8kg. Larger animals need to travel in the cargo hold, which can be more distressing for them as they will be without their companion for a period of time. When travelling with your pet, make sure you have the right-sized carrier and include a comfort blanket and their favourite toy. Your vet may also be able to provide calming medications to help your pet feel more relaxed.

Travelling by boat

Travelling by ferry, ship or other boats requires specific preparation.

  • Prior to boarding the boat, make sure you have all relevant documentation as this will be checked when departing or arriving at ports. Some cruises require pets to be microchipped before boarding, so ensure your pet is microchipped if needed. Additionally, some ships require specific vaccinations, such as a tapeworm vaccination. Contact your vet to make sure your pet has all relevant and up-to-date vaccinations.

  • Before booking, verify that your cruise allows pets and review any special requirements for having your pet on board. Check if your pet is allowed in a pet-friendly cabin. In your cabin, provide a comfortable bed and have their favourite toys on hand. If there is a risk of your pet getting seasick, ask your vet for any medications that may help. The sea can be unpredictable and so can your pet’s reaction.

  • Some ships require dogs to be muzzled and on a lead at all times outside of the pet-friendly cabin. If this is the case, ensure your dog is muzzle-trained before booking the journey. Depending on the cruise operator, there may be options for your dog to go to the toilet in a designated area on deck or indoors in toilet trays. If your dog is not used to going to the toilet indoors, they will need to be trained before your journey to avoid any mishaps on deck.

We hope that you find these tips useful for travelling with your furry friend, and we wish you and your pet a safe journey and lovely holiday.

Unfortunately not every animal is lucky enough to have a loving family like yours. Here at IAPWA we are dedicated to creating a better future for animals. If this article has helped you and your pet, can you help us to change the life of an animal in need?

A donation of just £3 can vaccinate a stray, protecting them from spreading or developing deadly diseases. £5 can provide a much-needed food bundle to keep a starving animal alive. And just £25 can neuter a street dog, preventing more pups being born to suffer on the streets. As a small animal welfare charity, every donation – no matter how big or small – makes a huge difference to the animals who rely on our vital lifeline.

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Article written by IAPWA volunteer Chloe Ashford