Taking a Dog on Holiday to France
We have now taken two holidays in France with our dog ! It has all gone pretty smoothly. Although, I must admit that more planning went into making sure we had the dog organised than there was for making sure the rest of us were organised!
The Pet Passport
The thing you must do in advance is to visit your vet to arrange for the Pet Passport. This involves ensuring the dog has a microchip and giving it a Rabies injection. If you live in the UK and are visiting France then you must wait 21 days after the vaccination before your pet can return to the UK from France. So, really you should contact your vet as early as possible to make arrangements.
We decided our dog could manage a maximum of four hours in her cage in the car. Although I do know someone who travelled overnight with a small dog, who slept in their van during the 8 hour crossing. Anyway, we booked a 3 hour Fast Ferry crossing - Portsmouth to Cherbourg with Brittany Ferries.
Before joining the queue for the ferry, we made sure the dog had been walked. And we didn't feed her, to avoid any problems of her being sick if the crossing was rough. But we did make sure she had water in her cage in the car. We then joined the ferry queue and our Pet Passport was checked along with our own and the microchip was scanned. They then placed a "Pet on Board" sign on our windscreen.
I had read beforehand that we would be placed together with other pet carrying cars in a ventilated area and in theory if it is a smooth crossing they might agree to accompany you down to check your pet. However on the journeys we have made I can't say I have noticed us being treated any differently to other cars and we haven't tried to visit her.
Remember to leave each window of the car open an inch for ventilation. Our dog appears to have found the crossings to be fine. Although it may depend on your breed of dog. I have since heard of a pug which died on a ferry crossing - apparently their particularly short noses make them prone to overheating problems and this had happened on a ferry trip.
When in France
During our holidays we have found the campsites we stayed at to be very accepting of dogs. They have been able to come with us to the bar and sleep under our chairs! However certainly in our last campsite you are not allowed to leave them on their own in the mobile home, so your holiday is definitely going to be dog orientated. But this was fine for us as we did a lot of walking and the dog was able to accompany us to restaurants and cafes and on a boat trip. For your own sanity, choose a mobile home with decking and a gate so that you can create a "garden" area to enclose the dog. And you can request to be put in a quieter area of the campsite to avoid too much passing traffic if your dog will be disturbed by this.
Dogs are not generally allowed on tourist beaches in France, so you may want to check what walks are available near your campsite. We have stayed in Brittany both times and have been able to walk the coastal path with the dog, which has been great.
A Pet Passport requirement is that you must visit the vet between 1 and 5 days before you return to the UK. The vet will give the dog a tapeworm worming tablet. (We havent taken a cat so I dont know what they get from the vet !) The two vets we have used were the:
- • Feydy Veterinary Practise in St Pol du Leon, near Roscoff
- • Dr Gosselin in Perros Guirec.
Both vets were great and gave the dog a Milbemax worming tablet, scanned the microchip, gave a general health check and stamped the Pet Passport!
For crossing the channel, the simplest option to consider must be the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle service which is only 35 minutes and you can keep your dog with you in your car. This is the most popular method for taking pets across the channel - find out more here :
Or, take a short Dover to Calais ferry crossing.
And as an aside, remember to take your driving licence to France as you can be asked for this.
For exact details of the Pet Passport scheme, check with your vet and also check the DEFRA website at : https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad
The RSPCA also has very useful information about travelling safely with your dog:Transporting Your Pet