15 February 2018 by Jessica Boston
The Year of the Dog! Dog-friendly holidays in France
It’s never been easier to take your dog to France; it’s the perfect way to enjoy a holiday with all the family!
With a little bit of forward planning you’ll find it’s smooth sailing – an easy trip across The Channel with Brittany Ferries, a lovely self-catering cottage or villa that welcomes you and your canine pal, and a country full of beautiful countryside and coastal walks for you to discover together.
Before you go…
Once you’ve decided to take your dog abroad you’ll need to make sure you comply with the requirements set out by the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS).
Get a Pet Passport
To get your pet a passport ask your vet for details. They will be able to provide a passport for a fee of around £150-£250. It’s a one-off cost as the passport won’t need renewing.
Your pet will need to be micro-chipped to validate their passport, again your vet can help with this. It’s best to use a chip that meets ISO standards but a non-standard microchip may be okay if you bring your own microchip reader with you when you travel.
If your pet already has a chip it’s worth asking your vet to check its location if it’s not been scanned for a while so it’s easy to find when officials come to scan it at the port.
Make sure you get your pet rabies vaccinated at least 21 days before you travel and keep up with booster jabs to keep your dog travel-ready.
You’ll need to take your dog to be treated for tapeworm whilst you are on holiday between one and five days before you return to the UK. The treatment will need to be recorded in your pet’s passport by the administering vet. The owners of pet-friendly holiday cottages will be happy to recommend a suitable local vet and help you make the necessary arrangements.
Be aware that there is an EU limit of 5 dogs per person for travel abroad, unless you are travelling for a dog show and have proof of this.
Sailing with dogs on Brittany Ferries…
A ferry is a great choice for dog-friendly travel, Brittany Ferries has several options for travelling with dogs so you can choose the one that suits your family best.
Your dog can stay in your car
On most routes your pet will be able to stay in your car for the duration of the crossing. You are not allowed to remain with them on the car deck for safety reasons, but your car will be marked with a special ‘pet sticker’ and parked in a designated area to allow staff to check on dogs throughout the journey.
It’s important that you leave your dog plenty of room and don’t load up his space with too much luggage. You should also leave snacks, a supply of water in a tip-proof bowl and open the car windows a bit to allow fresh air to circulate. Don’t forget to disable any car alarms.
You can get a permit to visit your dog during the crossing but there are strict safety guidelines on times and duration for your visits.
Your dog can stay in onboard kennels
On some ferry crossings you can book a kennel for your dog to stay in; there is a choice of kennel size to suit your dog.
Make sure you have a muzzle that your dog is familiar with as all dogs must be muzzled when transferring to and from their kennel and during exercise in the designated areas.
Kennels are available when sailing on the Bretagne, Cap Finistere and Pont Aven. You are free to visit your pet in the onboard kennels during your sailing.
You can book a dog-friendly cabin
The Brittany Ferries ships Baie de Seine, Cap Finistere and Etretat offer pet-friendly cabins, these are very popular so book well in advance to avoid disappointment! You’ll need to follow the ship’s guidelines about transferring your pet to your cabin and they will need to wear a muzzle during this time.
Where to stay
At the time of publishing Holiday France Direct has 675 properties to choose from that will welcome holidaymakers with dogs!
Depending on how far you are willing to drive you can stay anywhere from Normandy and Brittany down through the Loire and the Vendee and even further south – the choice is yours.
Your hosts will sometimes be dog owners themselves and will be very happy to advise you about the best walks, vets and dog-friendly restaurants or cafes in the area. Karen Taylor who owns a lovely dog friendly holiday rental on the Vendee coast says “As a dog owner myself, I am keen to encourage visitors to holiday with their pets, especially as many of the local beaches are dog-friendly!”
You can buy a wide range of dog food in French supermarkets. However, if your dog is sensitive to diet changes you might want to bring their food with you as you may not be able to buy your usual dog food brand.
If you are travelling in the height of summer you need to consider how your pets will cope with the heat – pick shady woods and do longer hikes or beach walks early or later to stay out of the midday sun.
Long car journeys are a challenge for some dogs. Make regular stops for comfort breaks – there are plenty of ‘Aires’ along the motorways. These wooded picnic spots are particularly dog-friendly and offer drinking water taps to fill water bowls and bottles.
You might feel it’s safer to keep your dog on a lead when abroad, but if you do plan to let them explore it’s a good idea to get a specially made tag for their collar with your mobile number including the international code and details of your holiday accommodation on it in case the worst happens and they get lost.
Make this year your Year of the Dog!
So many people love the experience of bringing their dog on holiday to France – take the plunge and give it a try this year! You’ll enjoy sharing new experiences with your pet and there is no guilt or boarding kennel costs from leaving them behind.
Don’t just take our word for it, this is what our customers say:
“Saffy our Labrador loves travelling via Brittany ferries!” – Jan
“Brittany Ferries is just superb… lovely relaxing overnight crossing to Roscoff, the nicest thing? Harvey our dog can come with us!” – Steve
“Love Brittany Ferries travel to France – this year is special as we will be taking our 8 month old puppy, Harley for the first time!” – Karen
“Naturally we and our two Labradors travel from Portsmouth to St. Malo with Brittany Ferries – why would one want to cross The Channel with any other ferry company?!” – Loretta
For further details please go to Brittany Ferries PETS Travel Scheme ferry information or www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad.