Croatia has become a very dog-friendly destination: you’ll often see man’s best furry friend lounging at the beach, relaxing under a café table, and enjoying the sea breeze whilst perched on a boat. And most of the dogs I saw were tourists, not locals! But before bringing your dog on Croatian holiday, you’ll need to take care of some legwork to ensure a smooth stay.
Travel: Whether your dog travels in the cargo hold or under your seat in the cabin is typically contingent on their size and the airline. Do your research by checking out the airline’s pet travel guidelines (this is United’s, for instance) and then book your travel via phone to avoid any issues. Now keep in mind, the EU requires a current rabies vaccination along with a minimum 21-day passage of time after the rabies vaccination has been administered. I had heard rumors that some EU countries don’t recognize the 3-year rabies vaccination that dogs receive here in the States, so I had my vet give Sasha a new 1-year vaccination. You’ll also need to make sure your pup has a 15-digit ISO microchip. In terms of paperwork, your vet will need to fill out an Annex IV Veterinary Certificate within 10 days of entry in Croatia along with a health certificate for the airline. Croatia requires a bilingual Annex IV Veterinary Certificate so it contains fields in both English and Croatian – your vet should have this document, at least mine did! After your vet completes the certificate, you’ll need to take it to a USDA vet to have it endorsed and often, the USDA vet requires very specific directions just to make the appointment (i.e. you MUST send the request by email, along with certain information). Ask your regular vet for information on your local USDA vet and they’ll point you in the right direction. After the country-specific health certificate is filled out and endorsed – along with microchip details and proof of latest rabies vaccination – you’ll have what’s called a pet passport and you’re ready to rock. Now remember, if you’re bringing your dog from a high-rabies country, you’ll also need a blood titer test performed. For additional information on taking your dog to Croatia, I found this page quite helpful.
Food: As I was going to be spending 6 weeks in Croatia, I knew I had to find a local pet store so I could purchase Sasha’s food abroad. Because who wants to lug around 22 pounds of dog food? Luckily, there’s an excellent store in Split called Pet Centar. They stock a terrific selection of pet supplies, including high-quality food (including grain-free versions), treats, toys, beds, wipes, brushes, you name it! The store is massive (even by American standards) and is easy to navigate. They have additional locations in Zagreb, Rijeka, Pula and Osijek.
Beaches: Most beaches in Croatia are not dog-friendly, so as always – Google is your friend. However, some towns have beaches that either officially or unofficially allow dogs. Local authorities may not enforce these rules during low-season, but they usually will June 1 – October 1. Looks for signs indicating if dogs are allowed and if you’re not sure, bring your pup and you’ll likely get the scoop from a local if they’re not allowed (and you can get directions to the closest dog beach). Obviously the beaches in Croatia get very hot, so don’t forget to pack bottled water and a travel-friendly dog bowl (I like this one). Sasha also loves chasing tennis balls and wading in the sea!
Accommodations: As most hotels are not pet-friendly, you’ll have better luck searching for accommodations on Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO. I purchased an inexpensive dog bed at Pet Centar so Sasha would be comfy on the hardwood floors in our home.
Sasha thoroughly enjoyed his holiday in Croatia – playing in the shallow waters of the Adriatic, roaming around our backyard leash-free, taking in the sea-kissed air on our many hikes – and I can’t imagine leaving him at home ever again. Croatia is best enjoyed with all of our best friends!