No matter how well you prepare for international travel with a pet, it can be a stressful experience. It requires a lot of phone calls, measurements, confirmations, and of course worry about your fur baby during the flight itself. Taking your four-legged canine companion with you, as you travel the globe, is a fun and exciting prospect. However, without some guidance, it can go wrong in many ways. In this blog post, you will learn about the best tips for traveling internationally with a pet.
Following is a list of the top considerations for taking your pet abroad. We believe, however -especially after seeing how many dogs are abandoned or given away due to the belief that international flying is not worth the hassle, that leaving your pet behind is not the only answer. We consider our pet as we would a child and for us, it’s worth the extra effort and cost to bring her along. We would never leave her behind.
Flying and country entry requirements when it comes to pets are specific, but not unattainable. Requirements and costs for pet travel vary among the different airlines, so we are unable to provide universal information, but each airline should have a pet travel page that lists its exact requirements.
Dogs weighing over 8kg are not permitted to fly onboard and must be checked along with the baggage. Pets that are certified Emotional Support Animals, depending on the airline and destination, can fly in-cabin with you.
With these tips, you should be well on your way to preparing your furry friend to join your adventure.
Before booking your flight, check with your vet to ensure that your dog is in good health. Some vets offer travel services and have someone on hand familiar with pet travel.
Also keep in mind that some dog breeds, like pugs and other snub-nosed breed are not permitted to fly due to their body mechanics, which can cause respiratory failures, other breeds, like pit bulls may not be allowed in certain countries.
Booking Your Flight
Flights allow only a few animals shipped as cargo per flight, so before buying a ticket, call the airline to ensure they have space for your dog. Ask if the cargo area is air-conditioned. This is essential to your pet’s health.
The airline may require a minimum layover for those traveling with dogs as cargo, so be sure to review the airline’s policy about pets and layovers.
Once you’ve booked your flight, call again a month or two before your departure date and confirm they know that you will be bringing a pet on board. Call them once again a week before you leave to confirm once again. You can never call too often.
Airlines have very specific requirements for kennels, depending on the weight and size of your dog. Follow these guidelines exactly, or your dog may be refused at check-in. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) provides the information for the size you’ll need for your dog.
Typically, airlines require water and feeding bowls attached to the inside of the kennel. Write your dog’s name, as well as your contact information, place a “live animal” sticker on the kennel and make sure your dog has ID on her.
We also ensured that our peys felt safe in her kennel leading up to our flight. We had her “kennel up” for dinner and fed her her meals inside.
As we prepared the kennel for our flight, we lined it with her bed and topped it with puppy pads in case she needed to relieve herself during the flight.
Food and Water
Flying on a full stomach might upset your pup, so it is recommended not to feed your pet more than four hours before the flight. It’s OK to give your dog water leading up to the flight, just make sure to give her a walk outside before heading through security to make sure she’s eliminated as much as possible.
An important question that always comes up is can dogs have aspirin? Find out if that is the case.
Don’t be afraid to ask the staff at the gate to check on the status of your dog. We asked before each flight to ensure she made it onto the plane, as well as after we landed in Frankfurt during our layover.
When you step onto the plane, let the captain and the flight attendants know that you are traveling with your dog in cargo so they are aware in case anything goes wrong with equipment like air conditioning or cabin pressure during the flight.
Border Entry Requirements
The most frequently asked question we receive from people about traveling internationally with a dog is in regard to quarantine.
Fortunately, only a handful of countries – typically island nations and those which are rabies-free require quarantine. Depending on the origin of the country (meaning the country from which your dog enters, not the country where your dog resides with you pre-travel), rabies-free nations may deny entry if you enter from a nation with high incidents of rabies.
Many, but not all countries require the following:
- ISO microchip (which operates on a different frequency from those used in the United States)
- Recent rabies vaccination, administered no fewer than 30 days prior to entry and is not over one year
- Blood titer test in some cases
- Flea, tick, and tapeworm treatment
- A health certificate provided by a local veterinarian no older than 10 days prior to entry
- Government Export Paperwork from the country of origin (Department of Agriculture or USDA equivalent)
- Pet Passport, if applicable
If Arriving By Air
Countries will require you to call a phone number and fax paperwork to the airport customs veterinarians 24 hours before your arrival. Once you land, you should claim your dog as goods and there, they will check your dog’s credentials.
At customs, they will ask for all of your paperwork, stamp it, and then hopefully you’ll be on your way. Once outside of the airport doors, let that pup out to go potty and do some down dogs!
If Arriving By Land
Simply obtain the required documents and claim your dog to the agricultural authorities when you stamp in yourself. They will likely ask you to make a gazillion copies but usually have copy machines nearby.
We’ve had to take our pets to countless veterinarians to meet entry requirements, especially in South America. It’s a pain, but also surprisingly simple -once you get used to it, and inexpensive, compared to the exorbitant fees charged by US veterinary practices.
Tips for Traveling Internationally With a Pet
While these modern times have made it possible to take your dog to other countries, without the long quarantines and other issues that would prevent this type of activity before, there are still important concerns that can’t be left to the last minute. There are different rules presiding over international dog travel that should be investigated. Ask your vet to provide you with any important considerations, and be doubly sure all the dog’s papers are in proper order before setting out.
Laws state that all dogs traveling across international borders must have an identifying microchip. This device is usually implanted at the same time they are getting their rabies vaccine. Be sure you get the important identification information from the vet administering the injection, so you can get your dog’s passport.
All dogs must be vaccinated against the rabies virus before they can travel to the UK or any other place in the EU. This is important because your dog will not be permitted to re-enter the UK without its proper vaccination records. There is a waiting period linked to the vaccination dates. Typically, 21 days will transpire before your dog can be permitted to re-enter the country.
It’s also well worth using a flea and tick formula such as Capstar for dogs before and after the trip to ensure your dog doesn’t have these issues during the trip or when they return.
Once your dog has received the proper vaccination and the microchip, your vet will issue a passport that will permit your dog to leave the country. As long as your dog continues to meet standards set by the UK entry requirements, your dog’s passport will be valid, and your dog will be allowed to re-enter the UK.
Under the Pet Travel Scheme set in place by UK authorities, there are specific routes and transport companies that are cleared for the task of transporting pets into the UK. Some companies will request a statement from the animal’s vet clearing the dog for travel before they clear the animal cargo for transport within their service.
While the regulations set by the Pet Travel Scheme work to defend against rabies entering the country, you should consider asking your vet about protection from disease while outside of the country. This could include tick treatments, additional vaccinations, or the application of a flea and pest collar.
Be sure to provide a carrier that at least allows your dog the space to move around; a blanket will make the trip more comfortable. Be sure to take the time to allow your dog to relieve himself before and after travel times. Do your research and inquire as to how and where this will happen with your travel company.
For those headed to a tropical climate with your UK dog, which has been born and raised in our own delightful climate, the temperatures in other countries may be too great for the dog and leave them vulnerable to heatstroke. If this is the case with your dog, take measures to conserve your dog’s cool body temperature by never exercising them in the heat of the day. Provide plenty of water throughout the trip.
Food and drink
A few days prior to departure, reduce the quantity of food you give your dog, then on departure day feed them early, so they have relieved themselves before the actual flight. Again, make sure they are given plenty of water during their trip, and make sure you have some of your dog’s favorites from their home menu.
Before you return to the UK you will need to take your dog to a local vet who will examine their physical condition and give them a tapeworm medication. During this visit, the vet will sign and date the dog’s passport. When you return home, the travel company will check your dog’s passport, and travel documents and scan the microchip. If they find any of the details to be out of order, they may send the dog to quarantine or even return your dog to the country it came from.
If you plan to cross multiple borders while traveling with dogs, the most important piece of advice we can offer is to remember is to look ahead at where you will be traveling and understand the entry requirements for each individual country at least one month prior to travel. Pet Travel is a great place to start, but always confirm the requirements by contacting the office in charge of animal importation for the destination country.
As mentioned several times in this article, each country and airline is different. Ensure that you know all of the exact requirements prior to departing. We emailed and called people constantly to certify we had everything we needed. Governments work slowly around the world, so get to work early – at least three months before departure, especially for first-time travelers.
We hope these tips help you prepare you for internationally traveling with dogs and alleviate some of the headaches that goes along with the adventure. For this reason, those traveling with their pet are urged to check and recheck each detail throughout the entire journey to avoid being separated from their pet.
Do you have any other tips for traveling with dogs?