The French love pets, but pets, like children are expected to
follow the rules.
– behave well,
– be clean and well groomed,
– wear the correct accessories, (even if that involves lace or leather)*
– not bark and not be old, fat, hairy, bald or too big*,
– or, in fact, your pet cannot be 2 pets*
Dogs are pretty much allowed anywhere in France, but check signs as
you walk in the door. However, even when the sign says no dogs, there
still seems to be a dog. Restaurants, supermarkets, clothes shops,
furniture shops, bars, cafes. I guess the alternative to dogs ‘in’, is
dogs ‘out’ and consequently lots of dead dogs in hot cars.
Your dog can go into a restaurant and are expected to lie down under
the table. Don’t tie your dog to the table leg, have you seen the film
Marley and Me? I’ve seen dogs sitting behind ladies on the chair, and
seen dogs sitting on laps, in between ladies and their food. These
obviously aren’t bloodhounds, but the most acceptable thing is for the
dog to lie on the floor and you get on with your meal as if it’s not
there. Don’t go slipping tit bits under the table…there’s nothing
worse than watching a Chihuahua scrap over an olive.
Dogs on leads or leashes
One golden rule to ensure your dog is accepted anywhere is to make
sure that your lead matches your outfit. (Endless expensive shops
offer a range of leads in a rainbow of colours, prints and patterns.)
Also, in winter to fit in with its French ‘copains’ your dog must
sport a coat… Nothing practical, preferably something with fluff or
fur around the neck and a hood, some even have chains, feathers and
quilting. I suggest buying a coat in the UK or on eBay and paying
delivery as I was amazed at the prices of even the tiniest dog coats
Another strange thing is that large numbers of people in France tend
to use harnesses instead of collars and leads. I think it’s a fashion
So, well behaved, dogs on a lead are allowed pretty much anywhere. But
not two dogs, or more. As soon as you go over the one dog rule, you
are regarded as a crazy mad dog woman.
Also the same applies if you have an excessively hairy, smelly, old or
Forgot to mention the size. If you have an enormous dog, forget taking
it out, unless you’re going for a long walk in the mountains. Lots of
people in the Savoie Mont Blanc area have a Bernese mountain dog, border collie or
French working sheep dog type, but they aren’t seen in the shops. Best
left at home in a well fenced garden.
When we first arrived to the Savoie my daughter was attacked by a
large dog (on a lead, owner couldn’t hold it) which grabbed her arm
and scratched her back, resulting in serious muscle damage and the
need for surgery (all ok now…). We presumed the dog would be
destroyed (put down) immediately as it had previously bitten 3 others. But
firstly, we needed to prove it didn’t have rabies and so prove my
daughter didn’t. We had to wait 3 weeks for the all clear, with the
dog living next door and after that begin the process of proving that
it was aggressive and had to be put to sleep. A total palaver.
France is now recognized as a rabies free country. Dogs entering back
into the UK still have to be inoculated against rabies, they must be
micro-chipped and hold a passport.
However, there have been a few occurrences of an African rabies strain
in illegally imported pets in France. The last French originated
strain of rabies occurred in 1998, and that was a fox.
So follow your vets advice, inoculate annually in France (bi-annually
in the UK) and your pet will be well protected.
Ticks can be a problem in France, especially if you hike, climb or
camp in the mountains a lot. Ticks in the Savoie Mont Blanc region are
not the same as sheep ticks in the UK and can make you and your dog
very ill with Piroplasmosis (Piroplasmose) and Lyme’s Disease
So, after a walk in the mountains do a check of your dog (and
yourself) for even the tiniest blood suckers. They make a bee-line for
the hot spots on your dog; ears, head, groin, armpits and bum, so
don’t be surprised where you could find one. You can buy a tick
twister from most supermarkets (I’ve found the Decathlon one to be
very effective). You put the plastic arm in between the skin and under
the tick’s body and twist until the whole animal comes away. Don’t be
tempted to just pull, as the body and mouth will separate and your dog
will have the mouth part buried under its skin, causing sore bits for
some time to come. After you’ve taken it off the skin, wrap it in
tissue and hit it hard with something heavy… They can run and may
disappear if you leave them! I’ve heard of people using odd ways to
kill ticks; hairspray (suffocated?), burning (singed hair?) and
squishing (doesn’t work). If you can’t face removing the tick with the
twister, then get the vet to do it… They’re used to it and can do it
quickly and easily without leaving body parts behind.
The best thing is to get your dog injected against ticks. It lasts 3
months and the tick will die pretty quickly and just drop off
somewhere (a good reason for not having shag-pile carpets). It’s not
expensive, is very effective and much easier than sprays and drops on
the back of the neck.
Also available is an injection which can protect your dog against
piroplasmosis, one of the diseases passed on by these ticks. This is
an annual injection (2 jabs to start, one month apart, then annual
boosters). It isn’t cheap and is only 85% effective, but that’s more
than 0. I’m terrible at feeing guilty so I go for everything that’s on
offer, after all, I made my dogs move to France.
Fleas on pets in France
If you’ve got pets then you know about fleas. No difference between UK
and French fleas, they all jump high and bite. Best to keep them at
bay with the 3 monthly injections (same as the tick one) rather than
with powders and sprays. Wash bedding, hoover regularly and check
Dehydration for your dog in France
Make sure your dog has access to fresh water at all times. When out
the lake water is perfectly safe for doggy drinking. Many villages
will have a water pump or trough and taps, so make sure you know what
to look out for, as these are often quite discrete. Don’t let your dog
drink directly out of a water trough in the centre of a village…
Scoop! And leave it clean for others.
Dogs in Cars in France
Dogs die in hot cars. That’s not a new one. But with temperatures
heading up to 30-32°C in summer, your car can be “El scorchio” very
quickly. Summer 2015 temperatures reached 35°C regularly, and one
particular day in my car the temperature gauge showed 52°C in the car
park… No chance for a dog to survive even if you’re only popping
into Intermarche. Cars are like conservatories in that the glass helps
the car heat up very quickly…
But it also can help the car cool very quickly. So, don’t make the
opposite mistake in winter and leave your dog whilst you go skiing for
the day. If I have to leave my dogs in the car in Winter I make sure
they both have padded coats on, that there’s a big blanket or fleece
to bury themselves in and I have a pyramid cat bed (it’s got a roof
and sides) for my Jack Russel who’s got no body fat. Temperatures in
winter can drop to below zero just as quickly as they can go above 30°C
in summer. That’s why we love the Savoie Mont-Blanc Region, it’s just
Dog poo in France
It’s unbelievable that on the face of it, it isn’t considered the norm
to pick up your dog’s poo. In the park, outside schools, hospitals,
pavements, you name it there’ll be a pile of dog poop somewhere for
you to step in. It amazes me that anyone can leave dog poop behind.
The probability of stepping in a poop is considerably high in France,
at some point in the week you are likely to step in some.
So, I pick my dog poop up all the time. I have had people clap, cheer
and shake my hand (a risky affair for them…) after I’ve picked up a
dog poo. It’s so rare to see people pick it up, that I get stared at.
People think I’m strange.
One time I had an almighty row in a town park after an old lady let
her bichon frisé poop in the park near the children’s play zone. The
poop happened to be particularly disgusting. I felt enraged and,
despite my very poor French, I accosted the old dear, gave her one of
my poop bags, and said “vous, SVP, mettez le caca dans la poubelle”.
She tried to ignore me at first and was incredibly insulted as this
mad woman created a scene. Then she tried to use the defence “c’est
liquide!” The ruckus gathered a small crowd, as I walked backwards in
front of her, repeating “SVP, la poubelle, ton chien, le caca”. I then
progressed to “les enfants, les chaussures, les pieds, it’s
disgusting” then ran after her crying “but why? Why would you leave it
there… Do you like it on your shoes?” I was dumbfounded. The
interesting thing was that the crowd support went to the old lady, not
me, despite everyone’s full understanding of the poop situation.
Perhaps it’s because I didn’t say ‘bonjour’ first?
So the simple rule is, take your one dog anywhere in France if it’s well
behaved, on a lead or leash, young, clean, short-haired, non aggressive and….
Still to come:
Ideal walking and swimming spots with your dogs (recommendations please!)
Choosing a vet (give us your friendly vet contacts)
Best places to hang out with your dog (Who’s really cool in doggy acceptance)
Disclaimer : « Alpsfairy.com » was developed to help, to inform, to advise, to find support, to assist in settling down in the Savoies, France. It should be used as a guideline nothing else. I don’t know everything there is to know or to do in the Savoies and in France. Here I am trying my to give it my best shot. Recent changes may not have been taken into account. I endeavour to keep the information as current as possible but some of the procedures can be amended with short notice and the site may not reflect these changes. Really I just want assist you and give direction navigating the minefields of living in France. Don’t be afraid! Different departments and different assistants can give varying advise – with the same ultimate goal just a different way of getting there – stick with it! – Yes, it may take a while! Your personal situation may require a different approach. Please don’t hesitate in contacting me if you have any questions. Again I’m here to help, support you as you adjust and settle down to Your French adventure.