More and more people are deciding to travel with animals, either on holiday or because they are going to live in another place. Abandonment is not an option. From the moment we decide to take an animal into our homes we are responsible for it, therefore we are going to take a look at all the things we need to consider when travelling with animals. It’s very important to know all the steps very well in order to do them correctly, that way we avoid problems.
When we travel with our pet it is very important to take into account whether or not it is a species which adapts well to travelling and changes. Obviously, dogs and cats are different. Travelling with an animal which is considered a “pet” requires planning and being ready to take some precautions.
If it is a dog and for some reason you cannot take it with you, the best thing is to have someone look after it at home. This eases the stress of separation from you. There are also professionals who take animals into their home, like a babysitter, and as a last resort there are kennels.
On the other hand, cats are very much connected to their territory. It is not advisable to move it because that will just stress it out. The best thing would be to leave it at home, with abundant food and water and leave a neighbour or friend or family member in charge of going to your home to check-up on it, give it some attention and change the litter if necessary. Also give the person in charge the vet’s number, just in case.
According to the Spanish Institute of Tourism, when planning a trip there are more and more options for people who have pets. Both in our country and internationally the number of establishments and means of transport that allow pets is growing.
Faced with this growing demand the sector has increased its offer and there are more and more hotels, rural tourism lodgings, hostels and campsites which allow pets. This is clear from the numerous guides that can be found online. Even so, it is always recommended to call first, to make sure you won’t get a nasty surprise.
Although availability is growing, Spain is still quite far from having the amount of choice that is available in other European countries, where travelling with your pet and being able to take it into any bar or restaurant is quite normal.
What you can do
If you travel overseas, according to the Official College of Vets of Barcelona, must take into account:
For more information consult the link to importation of CEXGAN or talk to the Spanish consulate or embassy in the origin country.
In this way, remember that each animal should have its documentation in order when travelling. Within the EU they require an international passport (which can only be issued by your vet), which states that:
For the UK, Malta, Ireland, Finland and Norway, animals must be treated against Echinococcus multilocularis 24-120 hours before entry into the country.
If you don’t want to get bogged down by all the paperwork, you can have it done by a company which specialises in dealing with all the bureaucracy. Another thing to assess before traveling with an animal or animals is the mode of transport:
Airline companies generally (except a few low-cost ones) allow pets up to 7-8 kg as long as they are in a special travelling crate. Bigger animals go in the cargo hold, also in a pet crate, which is why we at FAADA advise you only to take your pet on a plane if it is a very long trip and if there is no alternative means of transport.
The best advice we can offer is to assess very carefully whether it is worth putting your pet through this experience and to consult the airline company’s website to find out all the details before booking your flight.
Animals are allowed on most ferries. There is usually a space set aside for them and the tariff varies depending on the company. Having the dog’s paperwork in order is required (health card or international passport) and your pet must have a boarding pass. Each company has its own conditions and requirements (consult Balearia, Trasmediterránea, Grimaldi, Iscomar, Fred Olsen, etc.).
In Spain, Renfe only allows pets of up to 10 Kg on the AVE (high speed train) and long distance trains. It may take up a seat and it must travel in a pet crate. On commuter trains there is no weight restriction and animals should be on a lead and muzzled, under your supervision and responsibility.
Before setting off on a long journey, it’s a good idea to get your dog used to the vehicle (if it isn’t already). A few days before leaving, take it on short journeys to nice places, like a park or out for a walk, etc. His mind works by association, he shouldn’t remember that he only gets in the car to go to the vet, to have his fur trimmed or somewhere that doesn’t bring him happy memories.
Finally, before leaving home to make the trip, remember:
Make sure your pet has a resistant collar with ID tags stating your permanent address and phone number, as well as contact details (yours or the person looking after it) of where the pet is staying during the trip, and of course, microchip ID, verify that the data on file is correct. Take a recent photo with you in order to be able to identify him if he gets lost.
Should he be fed before leaving?
If your pet is not used to travelling by car, it is not recommended to feed him up to five hours before travelling. This will help avoid dizziness and vomiting. If it is an animal that gets dizzy a lot, talk to your vet about giving it an anti-motion pill.
Where’s he going to travel?
When travelling, keep in mind that your pet has to be safe. If it is small, the best place is on the back seat in a pet crate and with a seatbelt holding the crate, in order to hold it steady.
If it is a big dog, it can go on a seat with a seatbelt harness (taking up the place of a person) or in the boot if you have a safety barrier or if it is in a crate. Make sure it can travel away from objects which could smother it with movement. It should only travel in the boot if it is a hatchback. Keep in mind that the air conditioning may not reach the boot, which means it would be wise to travel at night or at times of little heat and stop every couple of hours so the animal can stretch, drink and freshen up a little.
During the trip
If possible, travel during times of least heat. It is also important to respect the biorhythms of the animal and to stop along route so that it can stretch its legs and drink. Keep the water bottle close at hand.
If your dog suffers from nervousness, you could play gentle relaxing music. If he barks, don’t shout at him, show him that you are by his side and make contact with him, without upsetting him or ignoring him.
If your dog shows clear signs of a phobia of cars, gets very anxious or doesn’t stop barking, consult a dog trainer or an ethologist. The reason for his behaviour always has a logical explanation.