Travelling abroad with your dog this Christmas

pug on a planeWith the festive season upon us, the urge to become sentimental about friends and family is too much to resist. For some people, making the rounds on Christmas Day to relatives to dole out (and let’s face it, receive) presents is a tradition to be enjoyed, but for others, a trip further afield is required.

If you have relatives overseas whom you wish to visit during the holiday period, but you own a dog, it can be hard to decide what to do. Your pooch is a member of your family, and no doubt you will give him a few treats and presents such as a new dog collar or basket to make sure that he doesn’t feel left out, so deciding to kennel him while you’re off on your holiday can be hard to do. However, taking him along with you is an option worth exploring.

If you want to take your pet on a plane, you will need to take him to your vet and make sure he is up to a flight – you can get a certificate which declares this for a fee. You ought to be aware that there are certain breeds that are unable to travel in a plane’s cargo hold. Pugs are a good example – due to the structure of the skull, they may develop difficulties in breathing. If you have a small pug-nosed dog that you wish to take with you, he’ll have to go in a small travel kennel and be stowed under your seat. All airlines will have regulations on what they consider to be a small kennel, so be sure to check with them before booking any flights.

Food and water is another aspect to consider. Some animal experts recommend that you do not feed your pet any solid food for 4 – 6 hours before travelling, and that you should freeze water in your dog’s bowl and let it thaw through the flight. Some airlines will be happy to provide food and water for your pooch; again, check with them before purchasing tickets.

If your dog will be travelling in the cargo hold, consider any extreme weather conditions that could be uncomfortable or harmful for him. At the moment, the UK is in the grip of the earliest cold snap for years, and the resultant travel chaos. Many airports have closed for periods; the South of the UK seems to have come off worse, but some smaller ones have gotten off lightly, such as Liverpool Airport. Taxis, for as long as the weather holds out, are the best way to get to the airport on time. Be wary of the effect the cold weather could have on your pet during the flight, especially if it is a senior do and the hold is not climate controlled. Your vet should be able to give you good advice.

Where possible, try to get a direct flight to you destination. Having your pet with you as you travel by taxi to Liverpool Airport, or by car service to Heathrow, is fine as he is by your side. However, if you have to transfer at another airport there’s a small chance he could go the way of your luggage and end up at a different location.

Last but not least, if you decide to travel abroad with your pet, be sure to take out adequate dog insurance for him.