By Miriam Kerins


The sun's out, and so is school, hailing the start of the official summer holiday season, and I want to remind pet parents to make every effort to ensure their pets – as well as their family -  have a safe and happy experience. So, whether you’re travelling by road, by sea or by air, I hope the information I’ve prepared below will be of some help to you.


Before you read on, please note: All of the information I am providing is done so as a guideline and as a source of information only.  It is in no way intended to be used, nor should it ever be used, as a substitute for professional veterinary and/or animal training/behavioural advice.  If you have any concerns regarding your animal's health or behaviour, please contact your local veterinarian, who is an expert, or a dog training professional without delay.


Remember, travelling can be very stressful for both you and your pet; I know, I’m one of those people who bring their dogs everywhere, and take it from me, poor holiday planning can literally be listed as grounds for divorce in our house!  However, with thoughtful preparation, you can ensure a safe, happy and comfortable experience for everyone.


Here are a few of my own top tips.

When you and your partner are excitedly discussing the family’s travel plans and destinations, make sure you remember to get your pets involved.  And no, I don’t mean sit down and ask them where they’d like to go!  I’m simply suggesting you factor your furry friends’ needs and welfare into the equation.

Take your pets to the vet to ensure they are up to date on all vaccinations and make sure you have a supply of any medication they are currently taking.

If you own dogs that will be in contact with other dogs, make sure they are vaccinated against kennel cough.

If travelling by sea or air, please obtain a clean certificate of health from your vet and make sure this is dated at least 14 days before your departure.

Ask your vet about any parasites, health risks, etc., to your animal that may be associated with your planned destination.

Additionally, make sure your dog has basic training so that he/she will at least know how to behave during the trip.

Make sure your pet wears a collar and ID tag and is micro chipped. It’s the law!  Make sure his/her details are registered, and are up to date and clearly displayed.


For Air/Ferry Travel:

● Before you book, always, always check ahead with your airline’s/ferry’s pet policies.

● The first time I took my dogs on a ferry and somebody callously described them as “cargo,” I nearly had a fit. However this is how they are considered, and, even if your dog is the most relaxed canine in the world, (a la our middle girl, Belle), the cargo hold does not make for a pleasant travel experience for them.

● If required, purchase an approved shipping crate – it should be large enough for your pet to comfortably stand, sit, lie down and turn around in.  Write the words ‘LIVE ANIMAL’ clearly on at least two sides of the crate, and use arrows to prominently indicate the upright position of the crate. 

● Make sure the door is securely closed, but not locked in such a way  that, God forbid there’s an emergency situation,  airline/ferry personnel can’t get it open to free your precious pet.

● Whenever possible, book direct flights and tell every airline/ferry employee you encounter that you are travelling with a pet in the cargo hold.  This way they will be ready if any additional attention is required.


For Car Travel:

● Plan the journey, taking into account any rest stops and/or restaurants where you can safely eat with your pet, and allow them out to stretch their legs and have a pee/poo.

● Never, ever, leave your animal alone in a parked car. On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked car can turn into a furnace and very quickly, in a matter of minutes, heatstroke can develop, causing death.  In cold weather, a car can turn into a fridge, holding in the cold, causing the animal to freeze to death. 

● In order to make the journey safe and secure, a well ventilated pet carrier/crate, large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in should be provided.  Alternatively a pet harness/safety belt should be attached.  However, if your dog is anything like my lot, they will probably gnaw through the straps, rendering them useless.  So, it’s up to you; you know your own pet, meaning you’ll know the best way to secure them.

● Don’t allow your pet to travel with his head outside the window. This can subject him/her to inner ear damage and lung infections. In addition, your pet could be injured by flying objects from other vehicles or from the environment.  Cats should always be held in a carrier.

● Don’t allow your children to tease or annoy your pet whilst travelling. Please teach your child (ren) to be respectful of their furry brother/sister.

● Take along plenty of bottled drinking water from your own tap.  Drinking water they are not used to could cause your pet’s tummy to become upset.


Bring along a travel bag for your pet and include things like:

First aid kit

Clean towel

Fresh supply of water

Paper towels

Poo bags


Favourite blanket/toys


Above all, remember to plan your trip and do try and enjoy your experience.



Travelling with your pet

Keep pets safe during rising temperatures

Keep pets safe at Hallowe'en

The Christmas Countdown

Common pet poisons!

Do dogs sweat?

Why do some children abuse animals?

● Animal parasites

© Party For Animal Welfare