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How to travel with a dog

English bulldog in a car advice
© Pixabay

Going on a trip but worried about how to travel with a dog? Do they get sick? Are they allowed on planes? Or trains? What about Brexit? Here’s the lowdown on dog transport.

By Ashley Murphy

How to travel with a dog in your car

This is probably the easiest way of travelling with your dog. You can make regular stops, keep a few treats, and the dog has plenty of company. Still, you need to take a few precautions. No matter how comfortable your dog seems, it's best to invest in a doggy seatbelt or harness. This helps keep everybody safe. Your dog could get overexcited, scared, or nervous, and you don't want them jumping around in the car, especially if your travelling at 80pmh down a busy motorway. You can buy a doggy seatbelt for as little as £7, while harnesses go up to about £18.

Some dogs really don't enjoy car journeys. It makes them nervous or anxious, and they can also suffer from motion sickness. This is very uncomfortable for a dog. Consult your vet for some advice. They can recommend or prescribe anti-anxiety medication. As with all medications, they can be some side effects. Just make sure to ask the vet lots of questions.

Or you could try some home remedies. These include:

1#Ginger Ginger helps with digestion and settles an upset stomach. The less sick your dog feels, the less anxious they'll feel. Mix ¼ of a teaspoon into some food, then give it to your dog 10/15 mins before travelling.

2#Lavender What about some doggy aromatherapy? Research shows that exposure to small amounts of lavender can soothe a nervous dog. Just squeeze a few drops onto a blanket and then put it next to your dog.

How to travel with a dog on a plane

Travelling with your dog on a plane is tricky; it can also be an uncomfortable and distressing experience. Most airlines class your beloved pooch as “cargo”. That means they travel in the cargo hold with the rest of the luggage. Unless they're sedated, your dog isn't going to enjoy this. Cargo holds are dark, noisy, and cold.

If your dog is small enough, some airlines allow you to take them as hand luggage. If not, you'll have to find a pet-friendly airline. These do exist, but their services are quite limited.  

Can I take my dog on a train?

Yes. You can travel with two dogs free of charge providing you stick to the following rules:

  • Dogs must be on a lead at all times, or kept in a carrier or basket.
  • Dogs aren't allowed on seats (unless you want to pay extra.)
  • Dogs aren’t allowed in dining carriages ( This doesn't apply to guide/assistance dogs.)
  • Staff are authorised to remove dogs from the train if they upset other passengers.
  • If another passenger complains about your dog, you're obliged to move to a different section of the train.

What about travelling abroad with my dog?

As it stands, your dog can travel inside the EU without being quarantined. All they need is a passport and a microchip. However, with a Brexit deal yet to be finalised, this could all change after March 2019. If we leave the EU with no deal on pet travel, Britain will be classed as an unlisted country. This will make travelling with your pooch a little more complicated. Your dog will still need a passport and microchip, but they'd also require a series of vaccinations, blood tests, and certificates from an official veterinarian. But this is the worst case scenario, and several alternatives are already being discussed.

Long journeys aren't ideal for our pets. But, when there's no alternative, there are lots of things we can do to make them feel more comfortable. Take regular breaks if you can, and don't overfeed them before setting off. A dog stuffed with doggy food is far more likely to get sick, and they may even vomit. Try some home remedies to keep them calm, or ask your vet about some medication. But the best tip of all is to tire them out! Take your dog on a long walk or run shortly before travelling. As the saying goes, a tired dog is a well-behaved dog. And a well-behaved dog will be a much better travel companion.

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