It's hard to believe, if you are not a doggy person, but there are dog owners out there who actually avoid going on holiday quite simply because they can't bear to be parted from their beloved four legged friend. Taking a dog on holiday in the UK is something of a challenge, as it is difficult to find hotels or cottages where dogs are made welcome. It's a very different story across the channel however, where dogs are welcomed and accepted in every kind of establishment. In some cases, the proprietors do nothing to hide the fact that they do in fact prefer the dogs to their owners, and seem to only begrudgingly allow the owners to accompany their dogs.
Over the last few years, increasing numbers of people from the UK have been taking their dogs on their summer holidays to mainland Europe, but just how easy is it to take your canine best friend on a skiing holiday?
Well, the basic requirements remain the same whether it is a winter or summer trip, and the first thing you will need to do is obtain a Pet Passport.
For full rules and regulations on taking your dog abroad, go to: GOV.UK
For information on how to transport your dog, go to: EUROTUNNEL
New rules were introduced in January 2012 which made it even cheaper and easier for UK holiday makers to travel abroad with their dogs. All dogs still need to have a vaccination against rabies, but no longer need a blood test, and only have to wait 21 days before they can travel, rather than waiting for 6 months which was the previous requirement. Dogs still need to be treated for tapeworm between 1 and 5 days before returning to the UK, but tick treatment is no longer required.
With a little bit of diligent research, you should be able to find both hotels and chalets in a variety of European ski resorts, even at the luxury end of the market, that will be willing to accommodate your dog.
There are a few things you need to look out for when taking your dog into a cold environment. First of all you should allow your dog a little time to adjust to the temperature. Dogs shouldn't be left out in the snow for prolonged periods, as leaving them out in the cold can be just as dangerous as leaving them in the heat, and they can get hypothermia in the same way humans can. It's therefore sensible to limit the amount of time your dog spends in the snow, especially if you have a very small, thin coated or old dog. Your dog might even be willing to wear that designer coat that he previously looked at with disdain.
You should try to prevent your dog from eating snow as there may be traces of antifreeze in it which can be very dangerous. Eating large quantities of snow can lower a dog's core temperature which can also lead to hypothermia.
Some dog's paws are better equipped to cope with snow and ice such as huskies that have thick pads and coarse hair. You can always protect your dog's paws with some little boots if he is prepared to tolerate them.
With a little bit of prior preparation and planning, there is no reason why you and your dog shouldn't enjoy some quality time together in the snow. At some of the more glamorous events in the winter sport's calendar, dogs seem to be almost essential. These dogs wander around the glamorous ski resorts of Europe like seasoned pros, trotting happily from the polo one weekend, to the ski racing the next.
Taking your dog to a ski resort certainly won't hamper your enjoyment, and if you are anxious about leaving your dog in kennels while you go away, it will almost certainly enhance it. It may seem strange to UK dog owners who are accustomed to being made to feel like social outcasts if they so much as try to enter a bar, shop or restaurant with a dog, but dogs are a way of life in European ski resorts and the most people have a very relaxed attitude to dogs.
Even the luxury retailers seem to positively encourage shoppers to bring their dogs into the shops, and they don't even have to be carried in designer bags.
As long as you take a few sensible precautions, spending time in the snow should be great fun for both you and your dog.
Photos supplied by Clare Meaney and Bonnie Munday.