Taking your dog to Portugal Via Spain on a Ferry

What do you need to know about travelling with your dog on a Ferry

<Boarding the Ferry at Santander in Spain

Pet Passport Scheme

Taking your dog onto the ferry at Plymouth or Santander.

When booking the ferry these points are worth thinking about.

Please don't be tight when choosing the size of kennel for your dog. I saw a man who squashed two large dogs and a smaller one all together in one kennel. It didn't look very comfortable for any of them.

The small kennels are small and the bigger ones are just a bit bigger. The price difference is worth it for your dog.

The smaller kennels are above the larger ones which means lifting your dog up to put him in. If you have a dog that is heavy or awkward to lift up it will be easier for both of you to get a large kennel. The dog can step in and out by himself .

The dog will not be allowed onto the ferry if its paperwork is not in order.

Your dog must visit the vets and be treated against parasites within a certain time period.

When this is done the vet will stamp the pet passport with the date and time clearly shown.

Check before leaving the vets the date and time are absolutely spot on. The vets signature and type of treatment.

The timing means visiting the vets the day before. If like me You sail on a Monday it means vets on a Sunday. Can you get from the vets on Sunday in time for Monday check in time at Santander?

I was in a very last minute panic mode when realized that I needed a vet on a Sunday.

It worked out fine. I made a couple of phone calls and the vet came in especially to help me and didn't charge me a penny extra.

 Thank you very much to the vet in Santander. I really appreciate it.

When travelling with your dog on ferry routes you are required to check in 90 minutes before scheduled departure time.

I prefer to give my dog a good run around and lots of exercise before arriving at the ferry terminal.The dog is then a lot more settled when waiting around to be directed onto the ship.

Pet owners parked up and checked=

Your dog is also less likely to poop in the middle of the car park when you are least prepared.

Have with you and easily accessible the following items

Your own passport and travel documents.

Your pet dogs passport and travel documents.

A rubber mat of some description. A couple of mats from the car floor or something similar is good. This is because the kennels are made of stainless steel making the floor slippery for the dogs and they sometimes have difficulty standing up. If the dog can stand without sliding around it will help to keep him calm.

Dog food. Enough for the journey.

Tit-bits and treats if you give them.

Dog food bowls and water bowls are provided, so there is no need to take your dogs own bowls unless it is a particularly pampered pooch that has to have its own favourite one.

A blanket or bedding of some description. We want our dogs to be as comfortable as we can considering the strange environment it has to be in for the next few hours. Stainless steel makes a cold hard bed.

A toy or chewy thing to occupy your dogs mind can help. Chewing can help tire your dog.

After arrival your dogs microchip needs to be scanned and checked against the numbers on the paperwork.

Then you will get some things to display on your vehicle. A sticker for the outside, a piece of card with numbers to hang from the internal mirror and visible from the outside some other bits and bobs.

After driving onto the boat you will have to wait until all dog owners are called to assemble next to a lift. When you are up you are up. You will not be allowed back down again for something you forgot. So check again. You will be escorted up the lift with your dog and probably some others, to the top deck where the kennels are.

You will be shown where to put your dog and be given a special key. For security reasons the door is locked
to help prevent unauthorized access. You will need this key to get in and out. You are allowed onto the dog deck at any time during the crossing  to check on your dog, let him out for a pee and a poop and generally tend to the animals needs.

My dog Tess enjoying a Santander to Portsmouth ferry crossing
Plenty of room to stretch the legs on the ferry

The outside deck is quite large and big enough for a few dogs to run about and get acquainted. Most dog owners are a friendly type and if the dogs get on with each other it can be very sociable.

It may seem distressful for you and your dog, but the calmer you are about it, the better your dog will feel.

Some of the dogs will probably be howling and whining, others may be looking utterly dejected. Others will take it all in their stride. Tess did. She was brilliant. One by one they all settle down and it isn't so bad.

Now is the time to get something to eat and drink. Take time to relax. Breathe a sigh of relief.

See also Vet in the Algarve Portugal

2 thoughts on “Taking your dog to Portugal Via Spain on a Ferry

  1. gina pleass

    Thank you very much as this is the first time that we have taken our dogs on a long ferry. We have been lots of time and i am worried about them


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