Thinking of taking your dog on the ferry

Every year thousands of dogs join their families and travel by ferry for a holiday. Travelling by ferry offers different pet options dependent on the route, however usually your dog will be able to remain in your vehicle, stay in an on board kennel or remain with their owner in a pet-friendly cabin or in a dedicated pet lounge. We have teamed up with the RSPCA to help make sure that wherever your dog spends his or her time, their experience is a positive and enjoyable one.

Think about when best to book your crossing:

  • If travelling during the summer months avoid the hottest part of the day by booking night or early morning crossings.
  • Be aware that leaving your dog in a vehicle during warm weather can lead to heat stroke and in some cases, can be fatal. Some types of dog are more prone to heat stroke: very old or young dogs, dogs with thick, heavy coats, or dogs with very short flat faces like pugs and bulldog types. Dogs with certain diseases or on some types of medication are also more at risk.
  • We strongly recommend to customers to visit their vet for a pet health check to ensure the dog is in a fit condition to travel, especially if it is one which is more prone to heat stroke.

Prepare for your trip:

  • There are new rules for taking your pet to to the EU and Northern Ireland, you will need to visit your vet at least 1 month prior to travel to ensure your pet has the correct vaccines and you have the right documentation. Find out more here:
  • Bear in mind that, unless you are travelling on a ship where you have booked a pet-friendly cabin or has a dedicated pet lounge, your dog will spend most of the time at sea on their own. It may be possible to arrange to visit your car mid-voyage to check on your dog, however the car deck is not accessible to passengers once the ship has sailed so you would need to be escorted by a member of the crew. Visits, therefore, depend on the availability and discretion of the crew. It is highly unlikely that your dog will be allowed to leave the vehicle, so you need to prepare in such a way which ensures he/ she is comfortable and happy during the journey.
  • If you intend to leave your dog in your car during the crossing, make sure that the area in the vehicle for your pet is comfortable and secure. Your dog will need plenty of space during the journey and when left in the vehicle. Whether unconfined or in a crate he or she will need to be able to sit and stand up at full height, turn around easily and lie down in a natural position, and must not be able to escape.
  • Take some absorbent bedding to help him/ her feel comfortable whether left in your vehicle or taken to an on board kennel. As your dog is highly unlikely to be able to leave the vehicle once sailing, this can help if your dog has any accidents during the journey.
  • Having familiar items near him/her can help make them feel more comfortable, e.g. your dog’s favourite toys.
  • Your dog will need access to water throughout the journey. Spill safe containers can be attached to the side of a travelling crate or left on the floor of the vehicle.

Allow plenty of time at the ferry port:

  • If your dog will remain in the vehicle or in kennels during the crossing, he/ she will need an opportunity to go to the toilet prior to getting onto the ferry. Give yourself plenty of time at the port for a pre-travel excersice.
  • If you are leaving your dog in your vehicle rather than in a kennel, make sure there is enough ventilation for your pet. Creating a flow of fresh air can be helped by opening both the driver and passenger’s front windows. Take care to ensure that your dog cannot escape from their carrier or your vehicle. Some ferry companies may provide window grilles, which helps with ventilation and avoids escape, but not all, so we advise taking your own.
  • Make sure your dog’s water container is full with clean fresh water and accessible to him/ her throughout the ferry crossing.
  • If you are concerned about your dog at any point during the crossing then please do speak to a member of the crew who may be able to accompany you to your vehicle or the kennels. Be aware however that increased security concerns may impact on whether or not this is possible.

Arriving at your destination:

  • Once you have left the ferry, find somewhere safe to pull over and let your dog out of the car. This will allow you to check them over and also give him / her an opportunity to go to the toilet and stretch their legs.
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