Advice Needed on Travelling from the UK with Dogs and Cats

09/17/2010 - 20:44

Ciao a tutti! I’m wondering if anyone has ever driven to Italy with dogs and cats in their car? I’m moving over to Molise in about 4 months time and right now my main concern is how to get my little gang over there. I really don’t want to fly them over, I’d much prefer to drive, but ideally I’d need to take them all at the same time (2 small dogs and 2 cats). Driving the dogs over isn’t a problem as they’re used to being in the car but I am worried about the cats, particularly as one is diabetic. Plus they don’t really get on very well (that dog/cat thing) so I can’t imagine they‘d be very happy, even caged and out of sight of each other. I plan on taking over a UK registered left hand drive car (which I’ll re-register in Italy) so either way I have to make the journey. Also, my dogs usually sit on the back seat wearing a harness and ‘dog seat-belt’, would this be allowed or would they have to be in cages (4 cages will take up a lot of room and I only want to buy a smallish car)? The only other options I can think of are: a) make two journeys, drive the dogs over first then drive back and return with the cats (but for obvious reasons that really doesn’t appeal to me) b) drive the car over then fly back, hire a large car/people carrier in the UK with plenty of room to keep them apart and drive back, dropping the car off in Italy (I understand some car hire companies will let you do this?) c) hire the services of a pet transport company who will drive them over there for me rather than putting them on a plane (like this company) and either drive over alone and have them all transported, or drive over with the dogs and have the cats transported. I’m leaning towards driving with the dogs and having the cats driven over by a company such as Transpet (just waiting for a quote back from them) but any other suggestions would be very welcome! As fellow pet owners will understand, I’m stressing more about this than anything else! Colette



I dont know much about driving pets over,as I flew my cat. But I do know that in a private car, your dogs would be fine with a seat belt - not in a cage. I'm presuming as you didnt ask,that you have them all micro-chipped,rabies shot and passport ready? Hopefully somebody else will know more about the subject od driving them, for you. I know its a stressful thing to do. But the animals seem to take it in their stride better than humans.

I've never looked into international one-way car hire, but since doing this within the UK is quite expensive, I suspect the cost of doing so across borders will be substantial. I'll first mention that you only need to be concerned about rabies vaccinations and pet passports if you intend to take animals into the UK. I experienced no checks at the borders coming this way and I've never heard that anyone else was ever asked any questions when leaving the UK or entering continental Europe. Obviously, there are no border checks of any sort at the borders of EU member states these days. I believe there is a legal requirement in Italy to microchip animals, but I suspect only a minority of cats and dogs do have a chip. As far as dogs and harnesses in cars are concerned, there may be a law here on that but, if so, my observations suggest it's largely ignored. It does, however, seem only common sense to have dogs restrained in a car, no matter how calm and accustomed to car travel they might be. Cats are a bigger problem. In my experience, they are never good travellers and can be either bad or terrible companions on a car trip. The way I dealt with getting two cats to Italy from Scotland was to make a plywood box that fit in the back of my hatchback with compartments inside for sleeping, eating and a litter tray. I used carpet tiles to make sure they could get a good grip and ensured that there was a good flow of air through the box by using a 12 volt computer fan. Basically, they were locked in the box in Scotland and were released three days later inside their new house in Italy. None of us really enjoyed the trip, but they didn't seem hugely stressed by the confinement, mainly, I believe, because they had an enclosed, dark space where they could 'hide' from what was going on outside. I assume the diabetic cat complicates matters since you'll probably need to get access to it during the trip at least once a day. If so, then perhaps you should just get two reasonable-sized cat carriers, find hotels along the way where they accept pets, get lots of absorbent pads for the bottom of the carriers along with some disposable rubber gloves and resign yourself to doing a bit of cleaning at the end of each day's travel. If you do stay in a hotel, you might also consider how you'll extract the little blighters out from under the bed where they'll likely be hiding when you get up. Al

Hi durobird/Allan, Yes, I've already started the process of getting their passports sorted, I thought it best to get the full compliment of treatments/injections for all of them so that if need be they can easily be taken back out of the country.  I'm unlikely to ever do that with the cats but if I drove back to the UK for a visit I'd probably take the dogs.  They generally like being in the car and have always worn a harness and seatbelt so are used to them (although it took me months to find one that my Shih-Tzu couldn't wriggle his was out of the minute I turned my back!) I looked further into the hire car option and it was averaging between £1500 and £1700 for a small car.  The more I think about it, the more I think the best option is to take the dogs with me and have the cats transported over there by road.  Especially as the cages used by the companies I've looked at  seem very similar to what you've described Allan.  I think it would be far more stressful than being in a car with me, plus they won't have to come out of their cages until they arrive in Italy so no worrying about where to stay with them overnight etc. No doubt nearer the time I'll be back on here asking advice about which route to take when driving down there along with recommendations for dog friendly hotels.  It's great to be able to ask for help and advice from people who've been through it already and so know all the pitfalls smiley Colette

Also remember that you have to register all Dogs with the local ASL via your Commune, ask the Comune or the Polizia Municipale for advice; if you don't you may get fined if reported. The local Italians don't seem to bother and appear to get away with it, but if your dogs gets into trouble you may have the Caribineri to deal with and they will slap a fine of €450/ dog not registered; also check with your Vet.

Thanks Flip, I wasn't aware that dogs have to be registered so I appreciate the heads up, I don't want to go breaking any rules unnecessarily!  I already know one of the local police oficers, and my best friend knows them all (they drink in her bar and one in particular has a habit of running up tabs which he then takes weeks to pay!)  I want to make sure I stay on their good side, it's not good upsetting the police in a small village eh?! wink

Ciao, We moved to Italy 5 years ago and brought our two dogs Barney and Louby with us.  It was a simple enough procedure ..... We now have 13 dogs ..... but that's another story !!! ....

We brought our cats over on the plane.  They are really old and it was a bit traumatic.  More for us than them.  I liked the idea of hiring a van and driving them down but, like you, found the one way van hire really expensive.  Mind you, so was the plane. Its just my opinion, but I wouldn't trust my animals to a company to bring over.  I'm sure they are all very nice, but I once put my cats in charge of a professional and when I got one of them back she hadn't got out of her cage for 3 weeks.  She was knee high in her own poo and pee and the guy who handed her back hit her really hard because she spat at him.  It was heart breaking.  She was so thin and shaky. Good luck.