Some times traveling with our four legged friends can be hard. And El Camino de Santiago can be a not so grateful experience. But with the help of some Peregrinos we have created this little guide to help you have the best experience in your Camino.
Traveling to Spain
Traveling from inside the EU to Santiago
If you’re travelling from elsewhere in the European Union, all you need to do to prepare your dog to travel to Spain is to have them microchipped, have a vaccination against rabies (at least 21 days in advance) and have all this recorded in an EU Pet Passport.
Although your passport won’t probably be checked on entry, unlike when travelling into some countries such as the UK.
However, you should also check with your vet whether your dog requires anything else to protect their health in Spain. In particular, inquire about Leishmania, a parasitic disease that can be fatal to dogs. This disease can be passed on to dogs from sandfly bites, and is a risk in parts of Spain in the summertime.
Another great aspect about travelling to Europe with your dog, is that for member countries of the European Union, the rules to enter with your dog are virtually the same for every country. There’s no need to track down different rules for each country. The complete rules are spelt out on this single official page. They’re pretty clear and this page should always be your final port of call (as sometimes rules do change). But here’s everything you need to know set out in simple language, if you’re taking your dog to Europe.
Travelling from outside the European Union
If you’re travelling from elsewhere. Your pet must have an ISO pet microchip inserted, and be vaccinated for rabies and various other diseases at least 21 days prior to travel and not more than one year prior to travel. If your animal was vaccinated before it was fitted with a microchip, it will have to be vaccinated again after the microchip is inserted. If your pet’s microchip is not ISO 11784/11785 compliant, you will have to bring your own microchip scanner.
A USDA (or CFIA) accredited veterinarian must then complete the bi-lingual Annex II for Spain for endorsement by the USDA or CFIA if travelling from the United States or Canada. If travelling from another country, the Governing Authority should endorse the form for you.
Pets entering Spain from a country with a high incidence of rabies must have a Blood Titer Test one month after vaccination and three months prior to departure.
In case of any other questions you can refer to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment in Madrid +91 347-5724 or +91 347-5368.
More websites to check
More information about travelling with Pets to Spain in this PDF.
Airline flight info
Here you can read more about how to make your flight easier to your dog and to you!
Pre Camino with your dog, El Camino is now for two
First of all, you should know that walking El Camino de Santiago with your dog its not going to be easy. There is going to be some problems and you will encounter some difficult situations. From people that don’t understand why you’re doing it with your dog, the extra weight that you have to carry on your backpack, there is going to be problems finding hostels “albergues” that allow animals and of course worrying about the safety and health of your four-legged friend.
But once you know all the cons we believe that walking with your dog it’s going to be an amazing experience that you will remember forever. So don’t worry there is plenty of dog lovers that walked El Camino before you and we will provide you with all the resources to make your Camino the most incredible experience for both.
Plan ahead so you don’t get stuck
It is important to point out that El Camino is doing great progress on becoming pet-friendly, but there is still work to do. So if you don’t want to get stuck, be stressed or finally decide to give up follow these steps and you and your dog will arrive at Santiago safe and happy. There are 3 main issues when you decide to travel with a dog. Lodging, finding a good place to spend the nights and that allows both of you to your well-deserved rest. Food, what to eat and what to carry. And finally your dogs’ health (and yours too).
Sleeping with your dog during El Camino
First of all the truth, there are many places that still don’t allow dogs. So a lot of pilgrims that walk with dogs decide to do so and instead of sleeping in “albergues” they take their camping tent so they can almost sleep everywhere. A lot of albergues have an available are where you can usually plant your tent and sleep there. That will give you the quality of the albergue, getting to know other pilgrims, being able to take a shower and cook, etc… and will allow you to stay with your dog. Most pilgrims like the company of dogs and a lot of them will probably play with your dog and make his time more enjoyable.
So first choice: tent or no tent?
Sleeping in a tent
If you go with a tent you will have more freedom but there are some rules in Spain and they change from one state to the other.
So just follow these simple rules and you will have no problem.
- If you are going to set up a tent, make sure it is only ONE and that it is small in size. A green or brown tent better because it will integrate better with the environment and will attract less attention.
- Try to put your tent up in the last hours of the day and evacuate at dawn.
- If you are going to camp inside a town or city, it is advisable to ask the police for permission and explain that you are only going to spend the night, if you do not, you may get scared in the middle of the night.
- If the police wake you in the middle of the night, explain that you are travelling with your bicycle and that the next day you will leave at dawn. The normal thing is that they are understanding and even offer you a better place to stay.
- In small towns, especially mountain ones, it is a good option to ask the neighbours for a place to camp to sleep, many times they will offer you a garden or an orchard, or even with luck their own house. Also, ask the albergues they will tell you where you can and may provide a place to do it.
- Be respectful with the environment and leave the place as you found it or if you can even better. Pilgrims have a reputation for leaving no trace where we spend, we maintain that reputation among all.
- Be very careful if you are going to cook with gas, especially in times of fire risk. The most prudent thing is to avoid it. Fire laws in Spain during the summer are really strict, so be sure you follow them.
- Do not camp near rivers or ravines in rainy seasons. As well as in the middle of a road or areas of vehicle passage. Never camp in the margin of a river or stream, what is now dry can become a torrent in a few minutes depending on the area.
- If you are going to camp near a mountain road try to do it from the road “up” and always at a distance greater than 50 m. Normally drivers tend to look more down. In the same way if you camp near a curve, try to do it on the inside to avoid the lights of the vehicles.
Albergues, hostels and other accommodations for dogs
If instead of a tent you decide to go with albergues, hostels, hotels … we suggest you book in advance. Depending on the time of the year some places will be booked already so be careful and plan ahead.
We recommend booking at least two o three days in advance, so you can plan your distances and don’t end up walking extra km to find a suitable spot. There are many websites with info about dog-friendly accommodations on El Camino. We recommend you to use this app BuenCamino. You will find information about all the dog-friendly places and also you will be able to save some money!
Also, we found this website from an animal protection agency based in Santiago about reported places that admit dogs in El Camino Frances.
Food, what to carry and what to buy
Eating well during the Camino de Santiago is fundamental. Both you and your dog will be burning more energy, therefore you will need to eat well to prevent health issues. It is advisable to stick to your dog’s normal eating habits and simply feed a little extra throughout the day.
It is important to maintain a feeding schedule.“You should never feed your dog just before exercising”, as this is not good for dogs. Your dog may not feel like eating after a particular stage of the Camino, however, he always had room for “the pieces of bread that many pilgrims would give us along the way”. However, your dog will need a proper meal once you reach your destination. Don’t worry about this though, because all the towns and villages along the Camino de Santiago have supermarkets or stores sell dog food.
You can carry in your backpack a foldable waterproof drinker, is very practical and it does not take up much space or is very heavy. It is commonly known for some places to have a drinker for dogs but being prepared will always help us.
So it will be probably easier not to carry your dog food, just go day by day and carry some just in case for those hard days. Probably pilgrims will fall in love with your four-legged friend and feed him little pieces of food. So if your dog doesn’t need any special diet to be sure that in almost every village you will find plenty of stores to buy whatever you feel necessary for your dog.
A lot of people recommend some vitamins because no matter how active your dog is 30 days walking it’s an exhausting experience.
Health and safety and gear for your dog while walking
Tied or loose?
This is a question that cannot be generalized because each dog behaves in a different way, and each situation requires a different way of acting. The decision must be taken by the owner at all times following their common sense and trying to be as objective as possible regarding the behaviour of your dog.
There are some places that even for the craziest of the dogs, there will be no risk and you can feel totally free letting him go and allowing him to enjoy El Camino in his own way. But there will also be some situations, like walking on the side of a road or arriving into villages that your dog will be safer on a lease.
Remember that also in Spain there are specific regulations for walking with dogs. In general, if you are inside a city he must be on a lease.
Gear for your dog
Some people recommend carrying a raincoat for those rainy days. If you are walking during the summer may be just a cloth to dry him out once you arrive at your destination may be enough. Or the contrary if your walking during the winter or fall you may want to check some of the options available on the internet.