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Can I Take My Dog on a Ferry?

Barking Mad dog sitters provide their top tips for taking your

Dogs are welcome to travel on Caledonian Macbrayne’s ferries, serving Scotland’s west coast and islands. Pictured is MV Caledonian Isles docked at Brodick, on the Isle of Arran.

Heading to the coast and hopping on a ferry to a lovely location can be great fun but is it such an enjoyable experience for your dog? At Barking Mad Dog Care, we are huge fans of including our four legged best friends in our adventures and decided to find out all about taking dogs on ferries departing from the UK mainland.

Leaving the UK

The most important factor to consider is where you wish to travel to. Every UK ferry operator has an individual pet policy and you will need to make sure that you are well informed. If you plan to board a ferry which will take you out of the UK, this obviously will make the journey slightly more complicated. Guidance for travel abroad with dogs can be found at GOV.UK and it is vital to comply with all the rules, which include your dog being micro-chipped, vaccinated against rabies, treated for tapeworm and being in possession of a pet passport.

Each ferry operator has different conditions of carriage, charges and facilities available. Facilities can also vary depending on which vessel in a fleet you travel on. For example, Brittany Ferries offer dog kennels and some pet friendly cabins on certain ferries and require dogs to be muzzled when not in a kennel or pet friendly cabin.

Taking your dog on UK ferry trips

The Isle of Mull is a great UK destination for visiting with your dog

The UK boasts many amazing island destinations. This is beautiful Tobermory, with its pretty coloured houses, on the Isle of Mull in Scotland

Even when staying within the UK, ferry company conditions of carriage and pet facilities vary tremendously, so our top tip once again is to do your homework. Caledonian Macbrayne, Scotland’s west coast and island ferry operator says,

‘On most of our ships pets are allowed access to all outside passenger areas. Many of our larger ships have internal pet areas with seating provided for owners. When inside, passengers travelling with pets should remain in these areas. On some ships pets are not permitted inside.’

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Ferries and Wightlink Ferries both have similar policies and require dogs to be kept on a lead and only muzzled if they are anti social. Northlink Ferries, serving the Shetland Isles, differs as they only allow dogs to remain in vehicles or in their kennelling facility.

It's great to travel with your dog but if you have to leave them behind, Barking Mad provide a 5* dog sitting service

The dog friendly lounge area on board MV Caledonian Isles, operated by Caledonian Macbrayne

Once you have decided upon your destination and researched the relevant ferry operator, it is important to be prepared, allowing you and your dog to relax and enjoy your ferry trip. We have compiled a list of our recommendations below:

  • Don’t feed your dog immediately before a ferry crossing as they may suffer from an upset stomach
  • Ensure that you exercise your dog before the ferry crossing
  • Ensure that you take fresh water so that your dog doesn’t become dehydrated
  • Take waste bags and cleaning products in case of accidents
  • Consider your dog’s temperament and the length of the crossing. Would they be happier remaining in the familiar environment of your vehicle or staying with you?
  • If your dog has previously shown signs of motion sickness, speak to your vet in advance as they will be able to offer you the best advice
  • Have fun and enjoy making some amazing memories with your dog!

If after careful consideration, you feel that your dog would not find a ferry trip a positive experience, there is no need to refrain from taking your dream trip. Barking Mad offers a 5* rated dog sitting service and our carefully chosen host families will care for your dog just like their own, while you are away. We are taking bookings now for a busy summer season and would love to chat to you about dog home boarding for your pet. You can call us on  01524 220202 or contact us via our website.