samedi 21 juin 2014

Driving to France with a dog

"Are we there yet, mommy?"

I just got back from France where I spent a week visiting my family and for the first time, I brought my little Woody with me. I am not going to lie, I was very nervous before leaving... Not only was I going to be on my own, driving for 10 hours, but I had a puppy at the back of my car to look after too.
I wasn't too sure of what to expect so I prepared myself as much as I could and it really helped on the grounds that it was also horribly hot when we arrived on the French soil. 

Here are a few tips that could help you one day if you drive to France with your dog. 
  • Book in ADVANCE! Seriously, plan well ahead! This is very important, purely because they won't let you cross if you don't have all the paperwork ready. I'm not sure about cats, but for a dog to go to the continent, you only need to pay an extra ticket for her. However, when you come back to the UK, this is where you need to be careful. Your dog must have been microchipped, had the rabies vaccinations at least 21 days and a tapeworm treatment (given by a vet) between 1 and 5 days before you return in the UK! Everything has to be stamped, signed and dated in your dog's passport.

  • WATER! Bring loads with you. And I mean loads. My dog drank about 1,5L because of the heat. We didn't plan it to be so hot and I am so glad I had two big bottles with me.

  • Make sure your best friend is comfortable. I drove for more than 7 hours and I can't imagine anything worse than an uncomfortable dog at the back. If they are comfy, they will be more than happy to lay there and have a nap. If your dog tends to be sick in the car, consider asking your vet if they can help with that.

  • Stop often. Because it was so hot, I stopped every hour. I was mostly concerned about Woody dehydrating so we had 15 to 30 minutes breaks every hour. Just enough to give him some water and walk him to stretch his legs.

  • Have everything ready in a place where it's easy to access. A spare lead, harness, a blanket, bowls, food/treats… I put everything at the front, so it was very easy for me to reach without having to remove bags and suitcase.

  • Feed your dog with light meals. Just for practical reasons, you don't want him to die for a poo when you're in the middle of the motorway or worse, stuck in traffic!

  • Get your dog a car belt. They are very easy to use and it could stop your dog from jumping to the front or distract you while driving. There is no law that will force you, but it's a question of safety, both for your dog and yourself. Otherwise, you can also crate him in the boot.

  • Book a room in a dog friendly hotel if your journey is very long. It is best to stop and go progressively.

  • Make a list of vet surgeries, dog friendly places to stop and rest. Don't wait until something goes wrong before trying to find a vet, you'll thank yourself if you already know where to go. Bring along your insurance paperwork too and anything related to his health that could become relevant.

Meeting a horse for the first time
Tired and very hot after a long journey. Nothing better than cool tiles.

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