Since the old quarantine laws were abolished in 2004 as improved rabies vaccines were developed, it has become far easier to move your pet to France or indeed anywhere in the EU. At the start of 2012 the UK brought its rules in line with the rests of the EU, and so under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) you can very easily move your dog, cat or ferret between European countries.
To get your pet prepared for travel, you need to have it fitted with a microchip, have it vaccinated against rabies and then you simply have to wait 21 days from the date of the first rabies vaccination before travelling. You can also travel to countries which are not part of the PETS, but for this your pet will need to be blood tested and then you will have to wait three months from the date of the blood sample (assuming it is satisfactory) before entering or re-entering the UK.
Once your pet has had his microchip and vaccination, you need to get him a passport and this can be issued by most vets in the UK. The only other thing to remember is that when you return to the UK with your dog (and this part only applies to dogs) you need to have him treated by a vet for tapeworm not less than 24 hours and not more than 5 days before arriving in the UK. This is usually done simply in tablet form.
You will find that most vets in Europe are aware of the laws. When you return to the UK and go through customs, the microchip can be identified electronically. Do note that there is no restriction when travelling between European countries other than the UK: it is only when returning to the UK that you need to visit the vet beforehand.
The low cost airlines do not take animals but the car ferries and Eurotunnel do, although your pet must stay in your car on the car deck at all times during the crossing. If you are travelling by car, remember to take plenty of fresh water and all your pet’s bedding and toys with you to make the move easier for them. Our furry friends are adaptable creatures but love their routine! We have done this with Eddie and Alfie many times and it works well: they are well travelled dogs!
We have found that the French are a nation of dog and cat lovers - there is not a day goes by without someone admiring Eddie and Alfie. Dogs are normally allowed in restaurants, cafes and bars without a murmur: one of the things we love about living here. You do see occasional stray dogs and cats, but there is a body similar to the RSPCA which can be found in most French towns who do a great job. We have a couple of English friends here who have taken on a rescue dog from one of these centres. The centre will advise on any treatment, micro-chipping etc. before you buy and the system works well. I would advise anyone who is thinking of adopting a dog in France to check this out.
Our own vet is a super man who plainly cares deeply for animals! The cost is definitely less than in the UK but of course it can mount up if you have a sick animal and pet insurance is probably a wise idea, particularly with an older dog.
Don’t forget too that we have a lot more space in France than in the UK and so lots of scope for long dog walks!