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Taking an assistance dog abroad on holiday

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Dog in a boat. Adventures with dog

I am always excited to travel and I am fortunate to have a Canine Partner assistance dog called Georgia who loves to travel with me.  When we pack our suitcases, her eyes light up and she gets truly excited.  However, there is a lot of planning and preparation that goes into our travels together, but it is always worth it.

First thing

The first thing to remember is that most airlines and cruise lines will only accept trained assistance / service dogs that are registered with a charity recognised by Assistance Dogs UK or Assistance Dogs International.  Dogs not registered with a recognised organization may, at the discretion of the airline, travel in the hold.  So this article will focus specifically on assistance and service dogs that are registered with an ADUK accredited charity.

Get in touch

The first thing I do and I recommend anyone planning to travel with an assistance / service dog to do, is to get in touch with the organization that your dog is registered with and have a preliminary chat with them about your plans.  They will be able to advise you of any specific requirements they may have and any restrictions that they have.  For example Canine Partners, the organization that Georgia is registered with do not permit me to travel outside Europe with Georgia.  Your organization can also advise you of any legal requirements and up to date requirements.  

Normally most organizations will need to see evidence that your dog is fit and healthy to undertake your travel plans.  So they will need to see evidence that your dog is up to date with all their vaccination, health checks and a healthy weight.  They will also normally ask for evidence that your dog is adequately insured and that you are up to date with policy payments, I found that giving the insurance company a quick call and asking them to email me confirmation that the policy was up to date helped.  

If your assistance dog is not already vaccinated against rabies, then you will need to arrange this with your vet.  The important thing to remember is that according to the current UK Government guidelines your dog must have the initial vaccination at least 21 days before travel.  

EU Travel

To travel to EU member countries you need to have an Animal Health Certificate issued by an OV (official vet).  It is important to ensure that your vet is registered as an OV.  The Animal Health Certificate will be valid for entry into the EU for 10 days from its date of issue, then 4 months for onward travel within the EU and 4 months for Re-entry to the UK.

Prep

It is important to make sure you talk to the airlines, ferries, cruise lines, hotels etc, to ensure that they are aware that you are planning to take take your assistance dog / service dog.  The earlier in the planning process you do this the better, it will hopefully prevent any nasty surprises or problems.  It will also help them prepare any assistance that you require.

If you are traveling by air, most airlines will advise you to check in at the airport and you should turn up early to allow for any paperwork checks by the airline and airport authorities. Your assistance dog training organization will be able to advise you on how best to prepare your dog for the journey.  

Upon return

Within 3 days of your planned return to the UK.  You will need to visit a registered vet who will administer a worming tablet and certify that they have given it. Administering the tablet yourself is not sufficient.

On your return you will soon be planning your next adventure with your assistance dog.  In all honesty I love traveling with my assistance dog and sharing our experiences. I hope you have enjoyed this article and found it useful.

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