Taking your pet abroad

Pet travel rules changed on 1 January 2012 when the UK brought its procedures into line with the European Union.

From that date, under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), all pets can enter or re-enter the UK from any country in the world without quarantine provided they meet the rules of the scheme, which will be different depending on the country or territory the pet is coming from. See our tips for taking your pet abroad below;

Abroad

Basically, taking your pet abroad means pre-planning so that you can bring them back to the UK, in line with the legal requirements.

If you're entering the UK from the EU and listed non-EU countries, your pet needs to have been microchipped, vaccinated,  and have the correct travel documentation. All dogs must be treated for tapeworm before entering the UK.

It's important to remember that even if your pet has a current rabies vaccination, they still need to be vaccinated after the microchip's been fitted. There is no exemption to this requirement and the length of the waiting period before entry to the UK is 21 days after the first vaccination date.

In the UK

There are no such restrictions on taking your pet on holiday with you in the UK, assuming where you're staying is pet friendly.

Some seaside resorts ban dogs on beaches in the summer months, and campsites may also have restrictions.

Common sense and courtesy mean that dogs should be kept on leads where directed - particularly on public footpaths, through farmland and unfamiliar areas. Gates should be secured and mess cleared up and disposed of properly, not least because of the risk of parasitic infections such as lungworm to other dogs.

On the road

Dogs that aren't used to travelling can find long journeys very stressful. So too can drivers, so always use a safe mode of transport for any pet, ideally a carrier or crate.  A fidgeting animal can be a dangerous distraction.

Make plenty of comfort stops where your dog can stretch its legs, make sure there's constant access to fresh water and never be tempted to leave your dog alone in the car, even in the shade with a window open - it can take just minutes for heat stroke to kill.

Check with your travel operator as to their rules on carrying pets - some ferry companies allow dogs on deck with certain restrictions.

In the heat

During the summer it is wise to avoid walking your dog at the hottest time of the day between 11am and 3pm,and certainly don't go on a long hike.  Try to avoid walking your dog on hot surfaces, as they can hurt their paw pads. Keep dogs' and cats' coats in good condition and have them trimmed if needed - it'll help them stay cool.

White cats and dogs, and those with white ears have a higher chance of sunburn, so ask your vet about an appropriate sun block.

Don't forget that conservatories can get very hot so don't leave your pet unattended.

Beware of barbecues - pets should never have meat with cooked bones in, even if they are leftovers so check for discarded food.  

And finally, Battersea Dogs Home suggests making ice lollies for dogs by mixing their food with some water and freezing it in a plastic cup (obviously remove it from the cup before giving it to your dog).

As for cats, well they seem to spend their lives being cool anyway!