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Traveling to Finland with a Dog: The Ultimate Guide!

Updated: Feb 14

Finland is a very dog-friendly country with all its nature and national parks, but as in all the countries, there are some local rules and agreements that you should familiarise yourself with to ensure that your trip will be as enjoyable and successful as possible. Find the best tips in Traveling to Finland with a Dog: The Ultimate Guide!


Finnish Lapphund in the summer
On the left a Finnish Lapphund "Tupu" in the summer time. Kuva: Johanna Kämäräinen / Johka Photo

Dogs are family members

 

In Finland dogs are often perceived as family members and they are generally well taken care of. There are no street dogs and there are relatively few infectious diseases in Finland compared to the other parts of Europe and the rest of the World.

 

Arriving to Finland


helsinki cathedral

You can arrive to Finland with your pet either by land, air or sea. It’s common to cross the boarder between Finland and Sweden and/or Finland and Norway by car in the north and since Sweden and Norway are EU/EU related countries, there is no continuous border inspection there. Finland also shares around 1300 km common border with Russia, but the border crossing points are always controlled since the traffic then crosses the EU-border. There is no direct train connection to Norway or Sweden but it is possible to travel from the South Finland to the north by train and then connect to our western neighbours by bus. In the south of Finland, there is a fast train connection between Helsinki and St. Petersburg that allows pets on board, but this route is suspended at the moment. There are multiple airports around the country, but Helsinki-Vantaa airport is by far the most international and many flights to the rest of the country have a stop-over there before reaching the final destination.



Arriving by Air

 

Your pet can fly to Finland either in the cabin with you, in the cargo hold in the same plane or as a manifest cargo in a separate flight from you. It is more the matter of the airline what is their pet policy. The Finnish airline Finnair operates all around Finland and has a lot of international connections within and outside of EU. They allow pets in the cabin and cargo hold. Helsinki-Vantaa Airport is a pet-friendly airport which has a dog’s toilet area also inside the terminal (more details at Finavia website). The pick-up area of the dogs arriving as cargo hold sometimes cause confusion within travellers because it’s not very clearly marked. The pick-up area is in the same space with the baggage claim as a special baggage. As always in air travel there may be some confusions at the pick-up – just ask the staff if you don’t find your dog at the baggage claim shortly after arrival!

 

Arriving by Sea

 

There are multiple commercial ferries going over the Baltic Sea (to/from Helsinki and Turku) to/from for example Tallinn, Stockholm and Travemünde. The ferries operate daily throughout the year. All the ferries take pets on board but the rules and prices differ depending on the length of the journey and the operating company. The most common companies operating from Finland are Finnlines, Viking Line, Silja Line, Eckerö Line and Tallink. The most of the internationally operating companies charge an extra fee for a pet and sometimes require booking a cabin which of course costs more than just a seat on a deck.



sailing boat helsinki
Sailing boat in the Finnish Archipelago in Helsinki.

Finland has a huge archipelago in the Baltic sea and there are multiple local ferries taking cars, cyclists, pedestrians and their pets from one island to another. The public ferries are often free of charge and the pets also travel for free. The same system applies to the central parts of the country where there are ferries replacing the roads to get over the hundreds of thousands of lakes. Some of the local ferries may only operate over the summer season. The updated ferry schedules are usually easy to find online by searching ferry schedule or “lautta aikataulu” in Finnish on the certain area. Useful information about the schedules in the southwest archipelago can be found in saaristolautat.fi-website.



Pets in Train

 

The dogs and cats are welcome to all local and long distance trains. In the local trains (that only exist in the south in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area) the pets travel for free and in the long-distance trains you have to book a ticket for your pet in advance. The only option for a long-distance train in Finland is the national railway VR, so choosing your train company is quite simple. There is no size or amount limitation per person for the pets, but the amount of the pet seats per train is limited. You can book your pet easily online at the time of booking your own ticket or you can add the pet on your ticket later as long as there are still pet seats available. Pay attention that only some couches are designated for furry travellers, you can see the pet sign on the designated couches from the platform.

 

There are trams operating in Helsinki and Tampere and the pets are welcome on board for free the same way as in the local trains. Remember to buy your own ticket though! The easiest way to purchase your train, tram or bus ticket in Helsinki area is to do it online through HSL-app.

 

 

Pets in Bus


dog in the bus

Like in the train, pets are allowed for free in the local buses (only with an exception if there is a very allergic person in the bus the entry may be denied). In the long-distance buses some companies allow dogs when the others don’t. OnniBus is widely operating bus company which unfortunately doesn’t allow pets in the most of their buses. The normal single layer buses (OnniBus FLEX) take pets but the more common two-story buses (OnniBus MEGA) do not. If your pet is bigger than your own lap/leg space, you may have to purchase an extra person ticket for it. Many other, smaller bus companies, even long-distance, may take pets on board without extra fee. Matkahuolto.fi is an excellent place to search for the tickets because the website shows all the operating bus companies. On the timetable you will see which buses allow pets, which makes it easier for you to book.

 


Dogs Must Be Kept on Leash All Times in Public Places

 

The pets have to remain on leash all times in the public places. There are multiple dog parks in the cities where you can let your dog run free and play with the other dogs! Sometimes there are separate areas for small and big dogs, so you can safely let your little one play with the same sized friends. The pets do not need to be in a carrier in the public transportation and the use of muzzle is not mandatory or even common (but of course recommended if your pet needs one). Usually in Finland many things work with the sense of common good – if you know that your pet might be aggressive towards the others, don’t bring it to the public places. People respect this! Disruptively behaving animal may be removed from the public transportation with its owner according to the law of order and safety. There is no limitation for any dog breeds.



 


Dogs Are Welcome to Many Cafes and Some Restaurants

 

Pets are often welcome to the cafes and to some restaurants. The permission should always be requested in advance or at the door since the owner of the restaurant decides their pet policy. Many cafes and restaurants also have signs welcoming the dogs! In the summer time the terraces are usually open for the pets as well. Pets are generally not allowed in the kid’s playgrounds, sports courts, public beaches, health centres, libraries, school and other public places such as theatres and cinemas. They’re allowed in the most of the outdoor areas and events, but keep in mind that there are some designated jogging/skiing routes where the dogs may not be allowed. Usually there is always a sign banning the dogs in the places where they’re not allowed. More info about the dogs in the nature and national parks is found later in this article!

 


Traveling to Finland from Another EU-country

 

EU pet passport

If you’re traveling to Finland with your pet from another EU country and your pet has an EU Pet Passport, you can enter Finland from any entry point without prior notice to the customs or other authorities. If you’re traveling from another EU country without an EU Pet Passport, your pet needs the EU Health Certificate that you need to get from the country where you first entered to EU. The Health Certificate is valid for 4 months of travels in EU countries and with this you can enter Finland from any entry point without prior notice. Additionally to the Pet Passport (or Health Certificate) your pet (cat, dog or ferret) needs a microchip and a valid rabies vaccination. Finland allows puppies under 12 weeks of age to enter the country without rabies vaccination if certain conditions are met. You can find more information about this on the travel regulations. The official authority responsible for the pet movements is the Finnish Food Authority.



Traveling to Finland from Outside the EU

 

Cats, dogs and ferrets from Norway and Switzerland can enter Finland with their own Pet Passports but with the same requirements as pets with the EU Pet Passport. Pet’s without the EU Pet Passport always need the EU Health Certificate from the country they are traveling from. A microchip and a valid rabies-vaccination are mandatory. The other terms depend if you’re traveling from the listed county ((EU) No 577/2013, Annex 2, parts 1 & 2) or non-listed country. Pets from the non-listed countries are required to have a rabies antibody titre test. As an example, pets vaccinated and travelling from USA, Australia, Mexico or Singapore do not require rabies antibody titre test, but the pets arriving from for example Albania, Thailand or Ecuador do. More information and examples can be found on the “travel to Finland from outside the EU” -tab. The EU Heath Certificate can be downloaded here.




Need Help Planning Your Trip to Finland with Your Dog? We Are Here To Help You!

 




Mandatory Tapeworm Treatment Before Arrival

 

Finland is a country free from echinococcus-tapeworm (E. multilocularis, E. granulosus). Therefore, all dogs brought into Finland or returning from travels must be treated against tapeworm 1-5 days before crossing the border to Finland. This will require you to bring your dog to the veterinarian in the country where you’re traveling from and the deworming pill is given under the vet guidance and the treatment will be marked in the EU Pet Passport / Health Certificate by the veterinarian. Pay attention, that the treatment can not be given on the border but at least 24 h before crossing it! The treatment is not required from the dogs traveling directly from Malta, Ireland and Norway, but if there is a stop-over in any other country on the way, the treatment is mandatory. Cats or ferrets don’t need to be treated. If you're traveling frequently in and out of Finland, check the so called 28-day rule for the echinococcus treatment!


It is very important to follow the instructions, not for your dogs safety actually, but the humans. We want to keep our forest berries safely edible directly from the forest, and as long as Echinococcus is not present in Finland, you can also enjoy the "everyman's right" to eat the fresh berries and mushrooms directly from the bushes in the forest! In the case of not medicating your dog before arrival, one will be fined if caught.


 

National Parks, Nature Trails and Wilderness Areas 


a dog in the forest in finland

Finland has an endless amount of nature destinations to visit with your pet. The national parks, nature and hiking trails, wilderness areas, lakes and forests are all accessible for you and your pet as long as you respect a few rules. The nature is at first a home to our wild life – from vulnerable birds to free roaming reindeers. In the national parks and other protected nature areas the dogs need to walk on the leash throughout the year. During the spring and summer time 1.3.-19.8. the dogs always have to be leashed in the nature to secure the nesting season. Outside of that period dogs are allowed to be off-leash in the nature (except the protected areas) as long as they are immediately called back to the leash if needed.



According to the law you’d need a permission of the property owner/holder to keep your dog off-leash. I have to admit, that I have never requested such thing. I’m again emphasizing the idea of common good – use your brain, be respectful. You can let your dog walk free when you find yourself alone in the forest (as is the case quite often) and your dog behaves well, comes back to you when calling, remains on the marked trails and you keep your eye on it. Don’t let your dog run to the other people or other dogs, respect the place and the others. Don’t let the dog off-leash when you end up to a busy trail. During the nesting season it is important that you don’t make exceptions to let your dog wander free and get close to the bird nests. You can find more useful information about the nature destinations and tips with dogs in the forest on this website.

 

Usually there is plenty of space for everyone and people are dog friendly, but the Finns with their dogs are often quite disciplined with the rules and they like their privacy even in the forest, so please respect this when visiting our magical quiet nature :)




 

Dog Friendly Campsites and Other Accommodations

 

With the campsites and other accommodations the things work as anywhere else – some do allow pets, some don’t. The campsites in general allow pets (of course better confirm in advance) but there are some that are especially dog friendly and they provide useful services and have better outdoor areas for the furry friends. The common accommodation booking -platforms provide feature where you can easily choose only pet friendly options to be listed. In the national parks and other nature destinations there are different types of cabins that may be rented or used for free. Dog allowance differs cabin by cabin, so unfortunately there is no one answer if the dogs are allowed or not. Some useful tips for pet friendly accommodation may be found under this link.

 

Be Aware of the Vipers and Wasps


Vipers are widely spread all around Finland except in the far north. The vipers start to wake up from the hibernation in the spring and their amount gradually increases when the days get warmer. The vipers preferred habitant is cliffs and rocks by the seaside but they are present everywhere from the forests to the lake sides. A viper bite is a potential danger to the dogs and outdoor cats and especially in the spring the young vipers can cause severe symptoms in pets because they don’t regulate the amount of the venom they use but just empty it all in one bite. Vipers are not necessarily attacking humans or pets, but if they feel threatened, they do defend themselves. If you see a viper and your pet starts to show any symptoms (e.g. nausea, hyper salivation, vomiting, apathy, weakness, swelling or purple colour on the bite site, two little holes on the skin approx. 1 cm apart from each other, difficulty in breathing, fever), contact a veterinarian immediately! Don’t give any medication by yourself. The bite can be fatal especially to very young and old dogs so it is advisable to seek immediate help after the viper bite. Avoid moving the part of the animal where the viper has bitten. The most of the dogs and cats survive after receiving appropriate treatment.


a cat in the tree in the forest

 

There are always potential incidences happening in the wild forest and additionally to the viper bites the other concern is the wasps, especially the ground wasp nests. They are nearly invisible in the forest floor and if your pet is very unlucky, it might step in to ground wasp nest. One wasp sting can cause pain and swelling on the sting site and if it happens near the face or throat, the airways may swell and the breathing of the pet can become difficult. With the ground wasps the potential danger is that they attack in the group of tens or even hundreds of wasps and can cause an anaphylactic shock to the pet. The nests occur more in the end of the summer so pay attention to your surroundings in the forest. Contact a veterinarian if your pet gets multiple wasp stings or starts to show any signs of abnormality even after a single sting.

 


Ticks in the Summer

 

Thanks to the large standing water areas and moist, there are plenty of mosquitoes and ticks in Finland in the summer. The most commonly found ticks are active when the temperature remains above +4°C degrees and they can potentially infect a dog or cat with Borrelia (lyme disease) or Anaplasma bacteria. The clinical disease in dogs and cats is rare, but the symptoms can be severe and the treatment long in the case of a symptomatic disease. For this reason all dogs and outdoor cats should have a sufficient, regular anti-tick treatment from the early spring till the late autumn. Ticks are especially abundant in the south and southwest near the sea side but they are also found in the lake sides and forests almost throughout the country, the amount decreasing when reaching the north. The “Finnish ticks” are lazy hunters – they climb up the grass and bushes to wait until a promising victim passes by. Other than above mentioned tick borne diseases are rare / endemically absent in Finland.

 

Mosquitoes Especially Between June and August

 

Mosquitoes are not considered as severe disease transmitters in Finland. There have been reported a few rare endemic cases of mosquito born diseases in humans but the dogs’ globally common mosquito spread diseases such as heartworm disease (Dirofilaria Immitis) or dirofilariosis, skin worm (Dirofilaria repens) are not endemic in Finland. On the other hand, the amount of mosquitoes itself can be nerve-racking sometimes. On the top of the annoying sound they make they can also cause extreme itchiness and painful lumps to the skin. Especially dogs with short hair and bald tummy can develop a serious rash or even allergic reaction on the sting sites.

 

dogs in the forest in the autumn

The largest amounts of mosquitoes occur in the summer between June and August. The mosquitoes are present throughout the country, but due to the most optimal environment they are the most abundant in the North and the East of Finland. Some of the anti-tick collars and spot-on medications may help to prevent the dog or cat from the mosquito bites, but usually they are not very effective. The best way to protect your dog or cat (and yourself) is to use protective clothing, dogs with undercoat and long hair usually don’t need any additional protection. Mosquito sprays and roll-ons made for the babies can be used with caution to the pets as well – never spray them towards the pet’s face and don’t allow the pet to lick the product away!

 

There are also some blackflies (a bit similar to sand flies but they don't transmit Leishmania) that may bite you and your pet during the summer, especially after a very wet period. The prevention is similar to the mosquitoes. If your dog or cat gets a lot of blackfly or mosquito bites and develops a nasty rash or allergic reaction, it is advisable to give a call to the vet. Some oral antihistamines and topical treatments may be necessary to relief the itchiness of the affected areas.





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Snow and Ice in The Winter

 

Many dogs absolutely love to play in the snow! The finest city dogs may experience cold on they paws if they don’t have a lot of hair to insulate their paws. In these cases is might be necessary to go for boots shopping to the nearest pet supply store. Some dogs accept the boots right away, but many first do funny walks and “freeze” until they get used to the boots in their paws. The boots may become necessary also in the milder temperatures when there's been salt added to the streets - the road salt is used against the ice but unfortunately it irritates many pet's paws.


Additionally to the boots it may be necessary to bring a proper winter jacket or two for your dog as well. Especially the small dog breeds and short-hair dogs without undercoat can not tolerate cold very well. On the other hand, there are a few native dog breeds that have a great fur and can survive outdoor all year long – even when the temperature drops to -30!





During the winter our beautiful lakes turn to be huge ice fields covered with ice and snow. These are excellent places for example for skiing and snow shoeing with your doggy when the ice is thick enough. There are even ice roads made for the cars in some areas so the ice really gets strong. Still be aware though, in the autumn and spring the ice naturally is thinner and may break even under a dog’s weight, especially if there is current under the spot you’re walking. Look after your dog when you’re near the water areas – they don’t understand the ice as we do, so they may run accidentally to the weak ice. You can observe the ice and water maps of Finland in English on this website!


Dog registry if your stay exceeds 3 months


Since 2023 there has been an obligation to register your dog to the official dog registry of Finnish Food Authority if you live permanently in Finland. You don't have to register your dog if your trip lasts less than 3 months. However, if your stay exceeds 3 months, you are required to register your dog to the registry as you're required to register your own stay as well. If you have a Finnish bank account you can do the registration by yourself online (costs is 10€), but as long as you can not log in to the online system, you have to do it on the paper form (which costs 19€). More information about the registry can be found here.


Veterinary Help

 

Finland has quite a unique veterinary system (together with some other Nordic countries) where the municipalities are by law required to arrange 24/7 vet services all around the country. This means that every region has a named veterinarian for the emergencies. Since Finland is a big country compared to its population, the municipalities often arrange the vet services together with a few other municipalities. This means that the distance to the vet can get quite long especially the further north and east you go, but after all – there is always help available. These services are often great for the first aid and basic treatments such as vaccinations, small wounds, eye, ear or urinary track infections, but they are usually not equipped for the special procedures.

 

There are of course also private veterinary clinics and almost all the 24/7 small animal hospitals are privately owned (only the University Hospital in Helsinki is not). The private hospitals are mainly focused in the south and central parts of the country and the most northern small animal hospital is located in Oulu. The private small animal clinics offer different services depending how well they are equipped – for the more special cases you may need to drive further away to find the specialist. Because the distances are sometimes long, a remote veterinary consultation can be an excellent idea to first find out how severe the problem is, get the first aid help instructions and possibly be able to cure small things without driving to the vet. You can also download a free app Pet Eme on your phone where you can find your nearest emergency vet clinic and some first aid instructions!




Ask the Vet! Online Appointments from 35€!



 




Traveling to Finland with a Dog: The Ultimate Guide!


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