Ready To Travel, Pack Your Pet!
So, I love traveling. Sometimes as a vet student, sometimes just as a "regular" person. Seeing somewhere new, meeting a different culture or even just visiting old friends. Traveling is something I do often and would like to continue with, even as I have bought a puppy. Therefore, he's coming with me. Because I would miss him too much - and also because leaving him alone for 4 weeks isn't really legal.
From Denmark to Germany and onwards to England. And back again. All in all, that's a trip that consists of crossing 3 borders, going on 8 different trains and quite a few car trips in between.
But luckily my puppy is pretty prepared; having traveled extensively since the day he was born, so I'm sure he will be okay. But it takes quite a lot of planning to take a dog with you for the first time - even as a vet student who feel pretty sure of the rules.
So how do you prepare your dog for travelling with you?
The first thing you need, is a pet-passport. As a dog-owner, but even more as a veterinarian, you have to know the look of the blue pet-passport. Here practically everything is recorded about the dog from ownership to microchip-number. It is strictly necessary that the correct guidelines are followed when completing the passport. A small mistake - like writing the date with a dot (.) instead of a line (/) - can mean the pet isn't allowed to travel. So as a veterinarian, make sure to check up on all the newest rules and as an owner, make sure you check the passport thoroughly.
When the passport is completed our beloved pets needs shots and vaccinations, just like we do when traveling. Most countries within Europe only needs the rabies vaccination, but even this has it's pitfalls. The rabies shot needs to be given when the puppy/dog is at least 12. weeks old (no sooner) and thereafter it is valid 21 days after originally given.
After this the rabies shot will be valid for travel for 3 years, where after the dog will need a new shot. All shots required for traveling must be recorded in the pet passport.
Some countries also require a titer- test to be done after the rabies shot has been administered, to ensure that the vaccination has caused the necessary immune response, however this is only needed if you travel from unlisted countries. This also needs to be recorded in the passport.
Many people choses - myself included - to record all shots given to the dog, in the passport. These aren't necessary for travel, but it can be nice to be able to prove the vaccinations when you're traveling, in case your dog needs to stay in a kennel or the likes.
The last really important thing to remember - again only for some countries (UK included): The dog needs a deworming treatment. Often this is just a simple pill, but its needs to be administered to the dog by a veterinarian who will then after record it - you guessed right - in the passport. Most dogs don't mind the pills - mine ate it like a treat. The tricky thing about this, is timing it right. It needs to be given at least 24 hours before crossing the border - but no more than 120 hours before crossing the border! This means it's quite important to know when exactly you will be crossing the border of a country requiring deworming treatment.
To summerise dogs will need
A microchip implanted
Possibly a rabies antibody titer test
A health certificatew
Packing and preparing
When all the practical stuff is done, the dog is ready to leave the clinic and go traveling. But there's more to travel than just practical stuff. It's always a great idea to really look at the dog. Will it enjoy going traveling or would it be better off staying at home with family or a dog sitter? Young puppies get overwhelmed easier, but they're also impressionable. If the dog will be traveling a lot as an adult - like mine will - it's a good idea for it to get used to it at a young age.
I prepared mine through taking him on a lot of public transport. Teaching him that on trains, buses etc. We sleep - and he mostly does, and then we play a bit of tug-games whenever we change trains, to make the transit a bit more fun. I also tried teaching him to do his business on command. This might be more difficult for some dogs to learn than others. If they like mine need a freshly moved lawn, with exactly 5% moisture and the sun at the right angle, to do anything. It's not that easy. But dogs can learn with time if you're persistent.
Traveling with a dog also means packing a lot of extra stuff. Food, water, bowls, a blanket, treats, toys, poo-bags and a lead is just some of the things you need to remember, but then again, you also need to remember these things when traveling with a baby, so I guess some people could call it practice.
In the end taking my dog with me was definitely worth the hassle. He's doing great and handled Hamburg like an absolute professional traveler.
If you're interested in reading more about taking your dog traveling or looking for specific recommendations for taking your dog to Hamburg, visit us at
Disclaimer: This article refers to traveling with pets within Europe as of July 2019. Rules and guidelines may vary elsewhere.