Before you go
Ask yourself: will my cat or dog be comfortable and happy on a trip? Some animals simply prefer to stay at home and a 'homesick', possibly motion-sick pet will ruin everyone's trip. In such a case it's probably wiser to leave your pet with a friend, relative or hire a 'petsitter'. If that is not possible, you might consider boarding them at a clean, well-run kennel or cattery.
If you do decide to take your pet along, you must take as much care with the preparation of your pet's trip as your own. If you plan to travel by plane, bus, train or boat, find out if your pet will be welcome and what kind of reservations and transport arrangements must be made. If you'll be staying at hotels or campsites, you must check if animals are allowed or if kennel facilities are available. If you're staying with friends or family, make sure your pet is also invited.
Travelling abroad with your pet
Check the DEFRA website for the latest information on requirements for travelling for pets from the UK.
Travelling by plane
- Contact the airline with which you wish to fly well in advance - each has its own regulations and reservations for your pet will be necessary.
- Be sure to ask about the airline's rules for pet crates or carriers.
- Try to book a direct flight or one with a minimum of stops.
- The airline may allow your pet in the passenger cabin if your crate or carrier can fit under the seat in front of you. If your pet must travel in the cargo hold, be at the airport early, place them in a travel crate yourself and pick them up promptly when you land.
Travelling by car
- If your cat is not used to being in a car, take him/her for a few short rides before your trip. If you also have a cat it will probably be safer and more comfortable in a carrier.
- Pets should NEVER be allowed to put their heads outside the window when riding in a car. It is dangerous for you, your pet and potentially other road users.
- If you're taking a long drive plan 'snacks', exercise and rest stops about every two hours.
- Always allow good provision of water.
- Give the main meal at the end of the day. Dry food is more convenient but if your pet needs canned food, dispose of any unused portions if they cannot be refrigerated.
- It is not recommended to leave your dog or cat in a parked car for a prolonged period of time. If you must leave your pet in a parked car, lock all doors and open windows enough to provide good ventilation, without allowing them enough room to jump out or get their head caught. Remember, on hot days, the temperature in a parked car can rise to dangerous levels in just minutes and your pet could die of heat stroke.
Travelling by bus and train
- Not all bus/rail companies allow you to travel with your pet, so phone ahead for information.
Wherever you go
- Ensure your pet ALWAYS wears a collar with identification.
- Pack their favourite food, toys, dishes, cool water and a lead.
- Have your pet examined and vaccinated, if necessary, by your veterinary surgeon before a long trip.
- If your pet must travel in a crate or carrier, make sure it is strong, large enough for them to stand up and turn around, has a place for food and water, is well ventilated, has a leak-proof bottom and closes securely.
- If you are planning a trip abroad with your pet, contact the vet practice and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for advice, as the health and vaccination regulations of different destinations vary greatly. Click here to find out more on the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS).
- Consider whether there may be special health risks where your pet is travelling too- your vet will be able to advise on any additional precautions that you need to take.