In Spanish, pets are animal de compania, and for many of us, our pets are our cherished companions. Specialist pet transport companies promise that-for a fee-they’ll handle moving them for us as if they were caring for their own. You’re able to do a much better job since you can prepare them for the journey. Save yourself the fees because it’s easy to manage moving them. You’re their best friend, so your pet will be much happier travelling with you!

The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) makes it easy to bring your pet from the UK into Europe. They have to be at least 12 weeks old, and obviously, your vet will check to be sure your companion is fit enough for the journey. The UK government PETS online has advice for bringing exotic pets.

Begin the process at least 22 days before you plan to travel, in this precise order, to get your dog, cat (or ferret’s) pet passport.

1. Your pet must be microchipped first so it can be properly identified. 

2. Have them vaccinated for rabies (dogs must be treated against the EM tapeworm), even if they’ve already been. This is a strict requirement with no exemptions. You must wait 21 days after the day of the vaccination before they’re able to travel. 

3. Your vet should be able to issue them an EU passport, or direct you to one who can. 

The easiest way to bring your beastie is in the cabin with you, which some airlines allow. Your dog or cat must weigh less than 8kg (17 lb), including the carryon baggage they travel in. Your pet's travel container incurs an additional baggage fee-making this the cheapest way to bring them.

The rules are: 

They travel in a well ventilated, closed carrier they can stand up and turn around in. 

In the economy cabin, their carrier has to fit under the seat in front of you. 

You can’t take them out of their carrier for any reason.  

Each pet travels in a separate container with only one pet per passenger.

You can bring an Emotional Support Animal, but you must produce documentation qualifying them. You’ll need a headed letter from a licensed doctor or mental health professional specifying their benefit to your disability. This information must be validated an hour before check-in. If accepted, your pet flies free of charge, like an assistance dog. If not, they’re placed in the cargo hold, in a travel crate you’d provide.

Key Tip: Crate train cats and dogs

There are three ways your pet travels: By air, ferry or car. If they’ll be spending time inside their travel container, minimise their stress by familiarising them with it ahead of your trip. Start with small intervals after playing, offering treats, teaching them to trust being in it. Follow by adding car rides in their crate and they’ll feel far more secure later on. Airlines don’t permit them to be sedated, but ask your vet about calming herbal remedies.

French Bulldogs snubbed; Pit bulls prohibited

Most airlines won’t transport pets with ‘snub noses’(brachycephalic) because stress provokes life threatening breathing problems. Persian and Burmese cats and dogs such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers, Pekinese and Shih Tzu require land transportation or travel on private planes. 

Many airlines won’t transport dogs they’ve categorised as “attack” types. They don’t have to be a particular breed, but if they’re similar to a Staffordshire Terrier or American Staffordshire Terriers (pit bulls), Mastiffs or Tosas, contact the airline to be sure they can be booked.

Crates for cargo

If your pet’s travelling by plane in the cargo, it’ll be shipped in an International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved transit container. Airlines require that carriers have metal, not plastic hardware fasteners. 

The crate should:

Be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around, and comfortably lie down.

Be of a sturdy plastic or wood with a strong door.

Have ample ventilation on all four sides that isn’t blocked by blanket/toys.

Have empty food and water bowls that can be refilled without opening the door.

Have wheels removed or secured so it can’t roll.

The floor must be solid and leakproof, but you can add a cushion.

Be labelled with your contact information.

You can only book early morning or evening flights for your pets in summer. The cargo area is climate controlled, so they’re as comfy as you are in the cabin but the runway will be scalding during the middle of the day. 

Driving to Spain or Taking a Ferry with Fido and Fluffy?

If you’re driving your car packed with belongings, it makes perfect sense to carry your pets along with you. Your cat might be up for the adventure if you’ve taken the frequent short trips in preparation. There are 855 listed pet friendly hotels across Spain where you can stay as you make your way to your new home in Spain. They’ll need their EU passport to show at border crossings and you should stop every three hours to give your dog a break.  

One way to cut down on the lengthy drive (it’s about 27 hours from the UK to Málaga) is taking a ferry part of the way. Dogs are required to wear a muzzle when going from your car into the kennels where they’ll stay. Their cost is around £70, including the kennel charges. 

Taking your cat on a long road trip?

Honestly, they’ll learn, if you teach them! Once you’ve trained them to trust their crate, add familiar toys or bedding because a familiar environment is a feline’s priority. Lead train them so they can pop out for breaks along the route. Face them forward in their carrier with a window, slightly open. Light meals are better than travelling on a full tummy. 

Dog breeds that must be registered in Spain:

You can bring any dog breed into Spain, but some must be registered locally. Within three months of their move, register your: Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Rottweiler, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasiliero, Tosa or Akita Inu.