Visiting Ireland with a dog? Read this First!

touring Ireland with a dog

Planning a trip to Ireland (either Northern, the Republic or both?) If you’re planning to visit Ireland with your dog, there are some important things you need to know.

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Is Ireland dog friendly?

One of the most common questions I get is ‘is Ireland dog-friendly’? I’ll admit, Ireland does have a reputation for being difficult for dog owners, for several reasons. Still, I spent two month touring Ireland with my dog Mac and we had a wonderful time.

In this post, I’ll share the tips and facts I learned about touring Ireland with a dog- and tricks to make it easier!

How to get to Ireland with a dog

There are a couple of ways you can visit Ireland with your dog. The first is to fly in, the second is to use a ferry. If you’re in Britain or France, most people tend to use the ferry, which is what I did. You can see more about my trip to Ireland and the ferry crossing here:

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How to get to Ireland with a dog from UK (Britain)

Assuming you’re going road tripping or motorhoming/ campervanning in Ireland (and therefore taking your own vehicle), there are 3 main service providers for ferries to Ireland – Stena Line, P&O & Irish Ferries and there are several ferry routes to choose from:

  • Holyhead to Dublin (Irish Ferries)
  • Pembroke to Rosslare (Irish Ferries)
  • Liverpool to Dublin (P&O Ferries)
  • Cairnryan to Larne (P&O Ferries)
  • Cairnryan to Belfast (Stena Line)
  • Liverpool to Belfast (Stena Line)
  • Holyhead to Dublin (Stena Line)
  • Fishguard to Rosslare (Stena Line)

Note: not all of the above ferries run constantly or accept dogs.

There are 3 options for pets during a ferry crossing to Ireland: Pet Cabin, Onboard Kennels and remaining in your vehicle. Only a few of the routes have pet cabins or kennels, so you can expect your pet to stay in the vehicle on most crossings.

What’s it like onboard a ferry crossing to Ireland with your dog?

Well that will depends on who you sail with and what their setup is onboard. When I visited Ireland to explore the Wild Atlantic Way, I crossed from Fishguard to Rosslare and managed to get a pet friendly cabin, which was brilliant.

The cabin had a standard wipe clean floor, a couple of continental plugs, a mirror and four single bunks with all your bedding included. The bathroom is a good size. It’s not the most luxurious place in the world, but the crossing was under 4 hours and it was nice to be able to sleep and know Mac was happy and calm.

As I mentioned, each ferry will be setup different with what they offer for pets. Not all ferries have a ‘poop’ deck (like they do on Brittany Ferries pet cabin sailings to France) so you might not be able to take your dog outside to relieve themselves until you get off the ferry.

Dogs aren’t allowed in the restaurant or anywhere else on the ship- you need to go directly from the vehicle to the pet cabin. If you have an anxious dog, you may not feel happy leaving them alone in the cabin if you want to get food or a drink- noisy dogs will be reported.

How much does it cost to go to Ireland with a dog

Obviously, this will vary depending on when you travel and how many of you there are (and how big your vehicle is).

As an example, in March 2023 I paid £250 for a one-way crossing from Fishgard to Rosslare for a 7m motorhome, one adult and one dog in a pet-friendly cabin.

Don’t forget, you can get discounts on most routes, through. If you book through a motorhome club, they can offer discounts to their members.

Ireland road trip touring mini guide

Paperwork your dog needs for visiting Ireland

To go from mainland Britain into either the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland, you need to have a couple of things for your dog/s:

  • dogs must have had all normal ‘puppy’ vaccinations
  • rabies vaccination (given at least 21 days before travel)
  • your dog/s must have a registered microchip
  • tapeworm treatment given by an approved vat 1-5 days before travel

TOP TIP: If you co-own your dog, make sure you have both of your details on the microchip. If an accident happens to one of you and the other has to take the dog home, they might not be able to travel with the dog if they’re not on the microchip.

touring Ireland with a dog
Soggy Doggy! Mac on one of Ireland’s incredible beaches

Pet Passport/ Animal Health Certificate

Lastly, you have to have an official travel document. This is either an EU pet passport or a UK animal health certificate.

1. If you have an in-date EU pet passport (not a UK one!) and all jabs, vaccines and checks are up to date (meaning you’ve gone back to the issuing country in the last year with your pet), you can travel using this to Ireland.

2. If you don’t have an EU pet passport, you need to get an animal health certificate, issued by an approved vet. NOTE: Not every vet can issue one of these.

You can find out more about the animal health certificate and how to get one here.

I would recommend you get the tapeworm and the animal health certificate issued at the same time and make sure the vet signs, stamps and dates your document properly.

Travelling from Britain to Northern Ireland with a dog

There has been a lot of back-and-forth about the rules after BREXIT for visiting Northern Ireland with a dog. When I travelled, it was exactly the same as the rules for visiting the Republic of Ireland but for the most up-to-date information, please check the DAERA website.

However, I can confirm that (at time of writing) you don’t need another tapeworm to travel from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland and vice versa. You also don’t need a tapeworm in order to come back to Britain.

Arriving in Ireland with a dog – what happens?

On the crossing to Ireland, no one checked Mac’s paperwork at all- which is bad! It would have been so easy to arrive in Ireland and realise I’d forgotten it. But there no checks at all at Fishguard.

When I arrived in Rosslare (Ireland), I drove around a corner in the port and found the pet admin area. There were two lovely women who checked Mac’s microchip and paperwork (including the tape worm time and date) and made sure that everything was in order.

And that was it. It was really straightforward.

Note: Bear in mind that if you amend your travel days after the tape worm has been given (as I had to), you’ll need to consider how that impacts the tape-worm travel window.

Mac loving beach life in Ireland

How dog friendly is Ireland?

Ok, so I’m finally in Ireland with my dog. What’s it really like? Is it true that Ireland is not dog-friendly?

Well, my friend, I’m pleased to share that Ireland is awesome if you have a dog.

I visited Ireland in March and April and I LOVED it. The weather wasn’t great, but we had some sunny days and there were so many beaches which Mac loved to run and play on- we often had huge stretches of them to ourselves. We spent time in the mountains and all around Ireland hiking and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Now, it’s not all sunshine and roses. There were some weird things you should know about before you bring your dog to Ireland…

  • Between beginning of June- mid September, many beaches are closed to dogs, particularly between 11-7pm
  • Historic places often ban dogs (as they do here in Britain)
  • Pubs, cafes and some restaurants were very dog friendly
  • He was allowed at Powerscourt Waterfall (Wicklow Mountains) but not at most other private waterfalls, even when they’re in a park or something.
  • THERE ARE NO PUBLIC BINS (see below)

The worst thing about travelling with a dog in Ireland

The worst thing about travelling with a dog in Ireland is that there are no bins in public places. Or very VERY few. The Irish motto is to ‘take it home’ which is wonderful and admirable but useless if you’re touring on a road trip and don’t have anywhere to dispose of your dog’s deposits like a responsible owner.

I found this the most challenging part about vanlife with a dog in Ireland, but I got around it.

  • Get a Dicky Bag. This is GENIUS for giving you somewhere hygenic to store your filled baggies until you can find a public bin (and it stops all smells)
  • If you have a garage or backbox, use that to store filled baggies until you find a bin
  • Visit fuel stations (which almost always have a public bin). I ended up only filling my fuel tank half full so that I had an excuse to stop more often and get rid of rubbish and dog deposits.

5 of my favourite places to visit with a dog in Ireland

Here are some of my favourite places I visited with Mac in Ireland

  • Wicklow Mountains
  • Portnoo Beach
  • Powerscourt Waterfall
  • Achill sound (specifically Keel Beach)
  • Ladies View and Killarney National Park (Ring of Kerry)

but there are so many more it’s impossible to list them all!

READ MORE: 7 epic Ireland road trip itinerary ideas

Heading back to Britain from Ireland with a dog

The process of bringing your dog back to Britain after visiting Ireland is fairly straightforward, as long as you don’t do a detour into France.

If you’re going directly from Ireland or Northern Ireland back into Britain, you don’t need a tape worm or even need to visit a vet. You just need to have their paperwork on hand when you cross the border.

Would I go to Ireland with my dog again?

In a word? Heck yes! It was fantastic. I definitely wouldn’t go between June- September and I’d be better organised in terms of rubbish and doggie deposits, but I can’t wait to go back and explore again someday soon!

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Last update on 2024-05-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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