Travelling with Pets
If you have pets, going on holiday can prove difficult even before you set off. Whether you plan on taking your pet with you or leaving them in the UK, it can be hard to find out everything you want to know or even where to look in the first place. Here are some of the issues you will have to think about when considering taking your pet away with you.
Quarantine is no longer a legal requirement when bringing your pet back into the UK. However be sure to check immigration guidelines for both your destination and your return journey.
The PETS scheme is employed in the UK as well as in most other EU countries. This involves following a step by step plan of vaccinations before you travel. This scheme currently applies to listed countries (the list can be found here), however from 1st January 2012 cat, dog and ferret owners will be able to avoid quarantine when returning from any country by following a slightly modified set of guidelines.
To travel with you, your pet will also need a pet passport. Details of which can be found here.
When transporting your pet by air, they will be kept in the cargo hold for the duration of the journey. It's important to make sure you have the right size container for your pet before you set off. British Airways has a useful measuring tool on its website to make sure that your pet has a comfortable flight as well as other information about its cargo service, which can be found here.
When you arrive at the airport your pet will need to be dropped off at a cargo or pet reception centre before you enter the terminal. The exact procedure varies depending on airport and airline. Heathrow airport has an animal reception centre, from which you can collect your pet following your return journey; however before departure animals should be placed in the custody of the airline's cargo service.
It's also possible for you to take your pet with you on a ferry crossing. Dogs or cats can be kept on your vehicle with you or looked after in the ferry's onboard kennels. For safety, bare in mid the same rules as when leaving your dog or cat in a parked car; make sure they are kept hydrated and that the vehicle is well ventilated.
For your pet
Travelling can be stressful for your pet, from being uprooted to being kept in a confined space for a long period of time; there are many factors that you will need to consider when making your pet as comfortable as possible.
Make sure your dog or cat has plenty of food and clean water for the journey and include your pet's favourite toy or blanket in the container to minimise their stress levels. Bear in mind that travelling by air can be stressful for animals, with long waiting times and loud noises.
The RSPCA has more information on the implications of different means of transportation for animals, which can be viewed here.
At your destination
When booking your holiday make sure the environment will be suitable for your pet when you get there. A number of holiday providers cater for pets. Maps4pets is great free resource to help you discover pet friendly holiday destinations and accommodation worldwide.
Leaving your pet in the UK
If you are only going away for a short time, you might decide it's best to leave your pet in the UK. When choosing a boarding kennel or cattery, look out for the size of the kennels (look for large kennels of around 6ft by 6ft) and access to outside space.
The Kennel club has more information on finding a suitable boarding kennel for your pet, which can be found here.
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