Since a dog is part of the family, for most people it´s hard to leave him behind while on vacation. In this blog, I´ll explain how you can travel through Spain together with your furry friend, where to stay, how to travel, and what dog-friendly beaches you can go to.
How to bring my dog to Spain
Since there are many ways of going to Spain, I cannot specify in this blog how to get your dog into Spain, whether this is by plane, boat, train, or crossing the border in France. I do have two helpful links that could give you more information if the dog is transported by airplane. IATA, which makes the worldwide transport regulations, also counting for pets, on a worldwide level.
Upon arrival, Spain has different rules regarding bringing a dog into the country. However, some of them are generic. Please keep in mind, that these rules regularly change, so consult with your local vet if there have been specific changes for your pet, or whether different rules matter for your country.
A dog will need a chip implanted with a 15 digit pet microchip, which complies with the ISO 11784/11785 rule. The last one is very important, so always double-check if the chip your dog as is as this compliant.
The vaccine duration depends if you are from a rabies-free, rabies-controlled of a high-rabies infected country, this can be from 21-days to three years. You can look at the site of the WHO or with your local vet about the situation of your country.
Both the chip and vaccination need to be registered in the dog´s passport, which is necessary to enter Spain.
If your pet is one of the following races: Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Rottweiler, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasiliero, Tosa Inu, or Akita Inu, within three months of entering Spain, your dog has to be registered and wear a muzzle when passing security at the airport.
Traveling around Spain with my dog
When going by train, a small dog, not weighing more than 10 kg. (22 lb.) can travel inside a crate carrier. The carrier cannot be larger than 60x35x35 cm (24x14x14 inches). Only one dog per person is allowed, and an extra ticket needs to be bought, when not traveling with a First Class ticket. The price of the ticket for the dog is 25% of the normal fare. If you want more actual information, you can look at the following link:
Almost the same conditions apply when traveling by bus, as by train. Only one pet per person is allowed and has to weigh under 10 kilos. The cage goes underneath in the bus, together with the luggage. There is a 50% supplement on your ticket price for the dog. When traveling on a bus with the company ALSA, which has Supra or Premium class, the luggage hold is also equipped with air-conditioning. The bus company has some more rules, regulations, and recommendations, which is quite a long list. This website has all the specifics.
When traveling by taxi and you have a small dog under 10 kg., most of the taxis will take them, especially in the larger cities. However, I advise to always call ahead, just to be sure. In Madrid a reliable company, known for being pet friendly is Teletaxi Madrid, Mascotaxi is also highly recommendable, smaller but specialized in the transportation of passengers with pets. In Barcelona there are two companies specialized in transporting dogs, called ChoferMascotas or Dogcar, both are very reliable. In Seville, Taxi Mercedes has dog-friendly taxis.
Double-check with each company what their current regulations are.
When you rent a car or come to Spain from France or Portugal, I just want to give a couple of tips for driving around Spain. Maybe most of these are familiar, however, I dropped a few down, just to take into account.
Spain, especially in the interior, can get very warm in the summer, up to 48ºC (118ºF). Make sure to ventilate your car and NEVER leave your dog inside a car, not even if you leave the window open. There is a jail sentence for animal mistreatment of up to two years in jail or up to € 18,000,- ($ 21,000,-) in fines. A dog can die when only left for 20 minutes alone inside a car.
A dog can get motion sickness, when on long rides, and driving through a mountainous area. A type of medicine that prevents the dog from getting sick is dimenhydrinate or meclizine. Cerenia is a well-known brand for this. Check however with the local vet, since this medicine is not suited for every dog.
Bringing your dog into an accommodation
Nowadays, finding the correct accommodation with the internet is much easier. However, often a “dog friendly” hotel, is only stated on the internet, to receive more clients. When traveling with a dog in Spain, the accommodations that are placed in nature areas, instead of urban areas, tend to be more flexible with dogs, especially in the north. AirBnB is also a good option in finding a place to stay and has a special filter for those accommodations that allow dogs. There are also plenty of good and affordable options with the BringFido app, an app that lets you search for pet-friendly accommodations by location. My advice is though, once a reservation is made, and before making a payment, call the accommodation, just to double-check if they indeed do accept dogs, this to prevent losing time, money, and disappointment.
Eating out with your dog
Finding a restaurant where dogs are permitted can be a big challenge in Spain. A good solution is to eat outside on a terrace, where usually dogs are allowed to lie down on a leash, below the table. But, for a dog to enter inside the restaurant is not very common. There is however a website which states dog-friendly restaurants per area. Have look at this link below. Once again, call ahead to inform, since there´s always a chance of the restaurant´s policy has changed.
Vamos a la playa. A dog´s beach?
Even though Spain´s symbol of its amazing beaches is true, only a very limited of those permit dogs to enter. Each region in Spain has about a handful of dog-friendly beaches. Most of these beaches are long strips of sand, where partially dogs are allowed. Other beaches that are isolated from the more popular ones, might also allow beaches.
The largest number of beaches for dogs are to be found in between the north of Barcelona and Valencia. Barcelona city only has one beach, called Playa de Llevant. In the south of Spain, there are around 10 beaches for dogs.
What items to pack when going on vacation with a dog?
There are a few items that could make a vacation with a dog, much more comfortable. Special dog backpacks exist, which are easy to adjust on the back when the dog gets too tired of walking.
Then always have a water dispenser and a bowl from which the dog can drink. Dogs need a lot of water, especially when visiting a hot country like Spain. Most restaurants where dogs are allowed, usually provide with a water bowl for the dog to drink from.
Finally, which seems obvious, always take the dog´s favorite blanket or toy on vacation. Even in a strange, unknown environment, the dog will feel much more comfortable with his favorite memory from home.
Well, hope this has helped you in preparing for a trip to Spain with your most beloved friend. I tried to write this blog as most actual as possible, but do make sure if the information is still valid when you´re traveling.