Travel experts explains all you need to know about taking your dog on holiday with you

Tom Stone
Authored by Tom Stone
Posted: Wednesday, June 5, 2024 - 08:00

With over 11 million pet dogs in the UK alone, they are often seen as cherished members of the family with owners wanting to share their life experiences with their furry friends where possible. It therefore comes as no surprise that Google searches for 'Can I take my dog on a plane with me' have seen a 200% increase over the last year as Brits look to explore the world with their four legged friends.

With the announcement of a new dog-friendly airline coming to the UK, Travel Republic has pulled together some guidance for Brits looking to take their canine companions on holiday with them.


Travelling with dogs FAQs

  1. Are there any health documents or vaccinations required for pet travel?

When travelling to an EU country or Northern Ireland, your pet needs:

  • a microchip

  • a valid rabies vaccination

  • an animal health certificate, or a valid pet passport that's accepted in the country you're travelling to

  • tapeworm treatment for dogs if you're travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta


  1. Can my dog travel in the cabin with me, or will they need to go in the cargo hold?

Whether your dog travels in the cabin or the hold depends on the airline's specific policies and regulations. It's essential to research these policies before booking your flight to ensure a smooth journey for your pet.


  1. How should I prepare my dog for the flight experience?

Some tips to help ensure your dog has a trouble-free experience include:

  • Making sure your dog has been exercised prior to flying, so that they have exerted any excess energy and can relax

  • Pack their favourite items, including toys and blankets, that can be kept with them for comfort whilst flying

  • Plan in toilet breaks from check in through to boarding, so that your dog has had plenty of time to relieve themselves

  • Try not to feed your dog too close to departure to prevent any motion sickness


  1. Can I bring more than one dog?

You cannot take more than five pets to an EU country or Northern Ireland unless you're attending or training for a competition, show or sporting event.

You'll need written evidence of registration for the event when you travel and all your pets must:

  • be attending the event or training

  • be over 6 months old

  • meet all the other requirements for pet travel to that country


  1. Can I bring food, water, and toys for my dog onboard?

It's advisable to bring a small amount of food, a travel water bowl and any toys or blankets for your dog to help them stay calm and comfortable during the flight.

When going through security, you may need to remove items from your carry-on bag, including your dog's food and toys, for separate screening. Be prepared to present these items to security if requested.


  1. How do airlines handle pet restroom breaks?

It is best to research your specific airline's policy regarding restroom breaks. However, some may require you to use absorbent pads or diapers for your pet during the flight. 


  1. What are the potential risks or considerations for my dog's safety and well-being during air travel?

It's wise to consult your vet before taking your pet on a flight and discuss any potential risks specific to them. 

Although, travelling by plane can pose a health risk to dogs with heart or kidney disease, or if they have other pre-existing medical problems. 

Dogs with short faces, such as Pekingese, Pugs, English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers can experience respiratory difficulty in confined carriers or if they are placed in the cargo compartment of the plane, especially during hot or humid weather. 


  1. Are there any specific guidelines for sedation or calming methods for my dog during the flight?

Whilst some dogs may become anxious, it's often not recommended to use sedatives to calm them during a flight. For example, the Heathrow Airport guide states that the sedation of pets is not recommended and in some cases, it's prohibited. It is best to look at your airport and airline policies, whilst also consulting with your vet before opting for any kind of sedatives. 

Getting them comfortable and familiar with their carriers and the travel motion can significantly help reduce their stress levels. You can also look into herbal stress relievers using natural remedies such as lavender and chamomile to help ease anxiety. 

To ensure a smooth and stress-free travel experience for both you and your dog, thorough planning and consideration are essential. You can use the government website to find the airlines and airports you can use when travelling with your pets. Remember to research your specific airport and airline's guidance on travelling with dogs and speak to a vet about any concerns you may have before departing.

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