Arranging your travel
If you are taking your guide or assistance dog to European or international destinations: The Pet Travel Scheme is applicable to an increasing number of ports and carriers who are ready to manage the processes for your guide or assistance dog. You must, therefore, make sure that you book your return trip to the UK, in advance, (ideally giving the minimum of 48 hours’ notice) so that your carrier is aware that you will be accompanied by your guide or assistance dog.
For a list of approved ports and carriers go to: www.defra.gov.uk and search for PET travel scheme.
Please be aware that the country to which you are travelling may have its own additional entry requirements, which may differ from the UK. We would advise you to check such requirements with the UK Embassy or Consulate of the country you are visiting. Or contact the DEFRA PETS helpline, 0870 241 1710.
Further advice about travel out of the UK with your guide or assistance dog can be obtain at the Gov.UK website - www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad
Travelling by ferry, hovercraft or Eurotunnel Shuttle Services
Guide and assistance dog owners are able to travel with their dog on Eurostar to an increasing number of destinations. Please check with Eurostar first, about their provision for guide and assistance dogs before travel. Some ferry companies will allow you to take your guide or assistance dog on deck with you - unfortunately, at present, some carriers are unwilling to permit dogs into passenger areas and as such you may be asked to leave your dog in the your vehicle while crossing.
Since the time spent crossing the channel can vary considerably (up to ten hours or more for some routes) you should consider your dog’s needs and its ability to cope with the journey before finalising your arrangements. Remember that in rough weather, Hovercraft services can be more adversely affected and some dogs may be unsettled by the louder noise and vibrations.
Travelling by air
Travelling by air will be a new experience for most guide or assistance dogs in the UK and you should consider your dog needs when planning to fly. Flight times vary, and you may have to wait a considerable time at airports for delayed flights and transfers. You will need to consider your dog’s welfare, especially when planning longer journeys, so it is advisable to speak to your Guide Dog Mobility Team or assistance dog organisation for advice on supporting your dog prior to booking your journey.
Other diseases endemic in the destination country
The Pet Travel Scheme exists to safeguard against the risk of rabies entering the UK. However, you need to bear in mind that when travelling abroad, your dog may be exposed to other potentially fatal diseases not endemic in the UK and against which your dog has no immunity.
The risk depends on the country you are visiting. Ask your veterinary surgeon for advice, well in advance of your travel date, so that you can plan and support the welfare of your dog, especially in countries where these diseases are more prevalent.
- Ehrlichosis - bacteria transmitted by ticks
- Babesiosis - protozoa transmitted by ticks
- Leishmaniasis - protozoa transmitted by sandfly
- Dirafilariasis - commonly known as Heartworm
Before you travel
Reduce your dog's food for a day or two prior to travel, and provide a light meal as early as possible on the day of travel. Do not restrict water at any time and make sure your dog has access to water throughout the journey. The need for dietary adjustment will depend on the individual dog and the length of the journey - again, please seek advice from your vet, Guide Dog Mobility Team, or assistance dog organisation about the best action to take for your dog prior to travel.
Remember that your dog’s normal diet may not be available in the country you are visiting. If possible, take sufficient dog food for your length of stay. Please be aware that import and export restrictions may apply with some types of dog food, both in the UK and in the country you are visiting.
You are advised to have your guide or assistance dog’s microchip checked by your vet before departure to avoid complications or a short period of quarantine on your return to the UK. Carriers may also undertake a check before departure and will check your dog’s microchip on re-entry back into the UK as part of the PET Travel Scheme process.
Please ensure your dog is given the opportunity to relieve itself, prior to booking in for your journey. You may need to ask for support in doing this before embarkation if there are significant delays to your journey, more especially at airports where there is restricted access once you have gone through security into the departure area.
Reduce your dog's food for a day or two prior to travel, and provide a light meal as early as possible on the day of travel. Don’t restrict water at any time and make sure your dog has access to water throughout the journey. The need for dietary adjustment will depend on the individual dog and the length of the journey - again, you know better than anyone the best action to take for your dog.
Remember that your dog’s normal diet may not be available in the country you are visiting. If possible, take sufficient dog food for your length of stay.
You are advised to have the dog’s microchip checked by your vet before departure. Carriers may also provide facilities for this at the point of departure.
As late as possible prior to embarkation, allow your dog a relief opportunity.
While you are abroad
Unless you intend to stay abroad for a prolonged period, it is unlikely that any assistance will be available from guide dog schools overseas, as most have limited resources.
Before travelling, you are advised to seek guidance from your local mobility team manager with regard to working the dog in an unfamiliar environment.
Remember that dogs do not adapt as readily as humans to changes in climate. They are therefore more likely to suffer from heat stroke or hypothermia. Exercise care to prevent your dog being exposed to extreme temperatures for prolonged periods.
In hot and humid areas, dogs should not be expected to maintain the same level of exercise activity or working stamina that they would normally have at home.