Traveling with dogs and cats

Not only the long annual holiday is an issue for pet owners - even with short trips in everyday life it is important to prepare properly for the upcoming trip. This is the only way to ensure that everyone involved can enjoy the relaxing holiday time.

We have prepared a checklist for you. This is what you should consider before you go on a journey with your four-legged friends!

Checklist for a short trip 

Dog and cat food: 

Pack your pet's favourite food and little treats for in between.

Water and feeding bowl: This is how you create a familiar environment for your pet. A seperate underlay (e.g. old towel) keeps the floors in the hotel rooms or holiday apartment clean.

Collar, harness and leash: On vacation and short trips this is not to be renounced. Above all, do not forget special activities planned for the holiday. For these you sometimes need special equipment.

Pet carrying bag or pet seat belt: Safety in the car is essential. Secure your four-legged friend properly on the back seat or in the boot.

Drinking on the road: Empty drinking bottles made of PET are ideal as water dispensers when travelling. During the journey a sufficient water supply is very important! 

ratgeber_tip_kleinDuring the journey it is better for your pet not to eat anything. This is more gentle on the stomach. 

Blanket or basket: So that your animal has a familiar retreat in its new surroundings. 

Duvet cover or sheet: This protects armchairs or beds, if your animal likes to lie softly. And everything stays clean for the next tenant.

Favourite toy: For occupation, a toy should not be missing. 

Old towels: One or two old towels for dirty paws and wet fur. 

Medication: If your animal already needs madicine for any reason.

Tick protection: A tick clipper should always be present. It is ideal to take a small first-aid kit with you. You can either buy such a first-aid kit or ask your vet. 

Excrement bag: Even on holiday, droppings have to be cleared away.



Checklist for vacation

Besides the aspects named above there are some more things which are to be considered when planning international travels. 

Vaccination and quarantine regulations: Check in advance which regulations apply to pets entering your holiday destination. 

EU pet passport: When crossing the border in the (EU), you must carry your proof that your animal has the necessary health measures (rabies and tapeworms). The passport must be clearly assigned to the animal by the identification number (by means of microchips or a tattoo). This identification card is issued by your veterinarian.

(Dog) liability insurance: Carry a copy of your insurance documents with you.

Holiday stamp: These stamps offer you security in case your darling runs away. Write your holiday address and telephone number on the holiday stamp.

Muzzle: Find out before your holiday whether your holiday country makes a muzzle compulsory. 

Dog boots: Are you on an active holiday and planning a hike or mountain tour? To be on the safe side, take special dog shoes with you to protect the soles of your dog's feet.


Frolicking with the family dog on the North Sea beach, cuddling with the domestic cat on Mallorca or playing with the rabbit on the Turkish Riviera. If master, mistress or the children absolutely want to travel with the pet, they should think about it and plan it well, recommends Verena Mißler, veterinarian and specialist at the German Animal Protection Association. Her tip: "How well a pet tolerates a journey varies from animal to animal. Dogs like to accompany their owners everywhere. With cats, we'd rather advise against taking them with us." Only if a cat has a strong bond to humans and is used to traveling from an early age, this is possible. And not every dog likes to travel.


Travelling with a pet should be well thought out

If you travel with your pet, there are a few things to consider. Therefore, you should carefully consider beforehand whether your pet should really be with you or whether it is sometimes better that the pet stays at home. Weigh up carefully beforehand. Sometimes it is the best and most relaxed solution for everyone involved to leave your pet with family, friends or acquaintances.


In case of doubt discuss holiday planning with the vet

Missler's conclusion: "Owners know their animals best and can usually judge for themselves what they can and cannot do. If you're unsure, you should discuss your holiday plans with your vet." If the animal is to stay at home and needs care, owners can turn to local animal welfare associations, veterinarians or animal boarding houses (Special animal care, test 4/2016).


Obtain written consent from the tour operator

If a dog or cat comes along, there are many questions to be answered. Does the accommodation allow pets? What about the transport company? It is best to obtain the consent of the tour operator in writing. 


With microchip or tattoo

Depending on the destination and route, there are further hurdles to overcome. For example, dogs, cats and ferrets must be clearly identifiable for travel within the European Union. For this purpose, each animal is identified either by tattoo or microchip. Since 3rd July 2011 the microchip is mandatory, only older tattoos are accepted.


Think about the pet passport 

For dogs, cats and ferrets, an EU pet passport is required when travelling. This can be issued by a veterinarian authorised by the competent state authority. The pet passport contains information on the breed and colour, the owner and the identification number of the tattoo or microchip, as well as all vaccinations with date, vaccine, manufacturer and period of validity.


Protection against rabies and tapeworms

When travelling within the EU with dogs, cats or ferrets, vaccination against rabies is mandatory. The pet must be vaccinated at least three weeks before a trip. This period does not apply to boosters. However, if the previous rabies vaccination is no longer valid, the booster becomes a first vaccination and must also be given three weeks before departure. Puppies may be vaccinated against rabies at 12 weeks at the earliest, so they can only travel at 15 weeks. For travel to Finland, Great Britain, Ireland and Malta, treatment against tapeworms is necessary and must be entered in the pet passport. It must be done between five days and 24 hours before arrival.


A maximum of five animals are allowed

A maximum of five dogs, cats or ferrets per person is allowed within the EU. Exceptions apply to competitions, exhibitions and sporting events.


Special regulations in many countries

In addition to the EU regulation on entry with pets, special regulations apply in many countries. Animal protection agency speaker Mißler emphasizes: "In Denmark, for example, 13 breeds of dogs are forbidden." Questions are answered by embassies, consulates or tourist information offices of the respective holiday country.


Travel outside the EU

Particularly before travelling outside the EU, pet owners should ask the embassy or consulate of the country they are travelling to for information on entry requirements: Is muzzling or leashing of dogs compulsory at the holiday destination? Are there any species or breeds that may not be brought into the country, such as dangerous breeds of dogs? What vaccinations and preventive treatments are required? Does the animal first have to be put in quarantine on entry? Those who do not follow the rules risk not only high fines. In case of doubt, the animals are not allowed to enter the country, are taken into quarantine, sent back or in extreme cases even killed.


Barriers to return

Return must also be regulated, because the EU does not allow every animal to enter. It depends on where it comes from. A distinction is made between listed and unlisted third countries. Listed are those countries where the risk of rabies is limited. Unlisted means that the risk of rabies is either unknown or very high. Non-listed third countries are subject to stricter rules than listed third countries, and even among the listed third countries there are two groups. One group includes Andorra, Switzerland, the Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Greenland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino and the Vatican. The other group includes the USA, Canada, Australia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. For group one almost the same requirements apply as within the EU countries. Dogs, cats and ferrets may only enter the country accompanied by their owner or a responsible person. It must be proven that the animal should neither be sold nor change owner. For group two, the owner must also present an animal health certificate from the official veterinarian.


Travelling through several countries

If a pet owner passes through an unlisted country with his pet on his return journey from a listed country, he must make a declaration that the animal has had no contact with animals susceptible to rabies there and has not left the means of transport or the airport. The requirements are stricter for animals that have been in a non-listed third country such as Egypt or Turkey for a longer period of time. Veterinarian Mißler explains: "On re-entry, a rabies titer test is necessary. It must therefore be proven that sufficient antibodies have been formed and that there is sufficient vaccination protection". Otherwise, the vaccination must be revaccinated and tested again. "Therefore, you should build in a good buffer and allow for about half a year." Animal owners can find information on which countries are listed where on the website of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).


Only via certain airports

Animals entering the country from third countries must always be declared to customs. All documents are checked there. Animal owners should also make sure that they enter the country in the right place: Dogs, cats and ferrets may not be brought back into the EU from non-EU countries via all airports and ports. Which ones are permitted can be found in the "List of Entry Points in the Federal Republic of Germany" of the BMEL. Exceptions are the listed third countries in the first group such as Switzerland or Norway.


A hiking holiday is better than a long distance journey

A pet may become ill or have an accident while travelling. A pet owner who has taken out an animal health insurance policy is often also protected abroad. Project manager Romy Philipp recently tested full health insurance and surgery cost insurance for Finanztest (Test Tierkrankenversicherung, Finanztest 2/2016). Her conclusion: "At least one month's protection is valid in all tariffs throughout Europe, but depending on the tariff, even up to twelve months and worldwide.


Thoroughly consider the choice of means of transport

It is particularly important to prepare the journey itself well. Veterinarian Mißler asks owners to consider the choice of the means of transport carefully (animals in car, train and plane). A boat trip can become a danger "if you have to leave your animal in the car on ferries". On flights, 5,000 animals die, are injured or are lost in the cargo hold every year, according to the Airline Transportation Association. Mißler therefore calls on owners to be more considerate: "The journey itself should not be too strenuous. For example, dogs like huskies should not be exposed to great heat. Instead of absolutely taking your pet with you on a city trip, you should perhaps plan a hiking holiday instead.


Dog in hand luggage

Smaller animals and recognised assistance dogs, usually up to five kilos, can be taken into the aircraft cabin as "hand luggage".


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