The first time you begin planning to take your dog or cat with you on a flight across international borders it can seem like a daunting undertaking. As most people find out after their initial outing, traveling with your pets is easier once you become familiar with the general process. These are the most important things to keep in mind so that any trip isn’t stressful for either owner or pet.
Pets Are Dogs And Cats Only
Sorry birds, according the almost all airlines, dogs and cats are the only animals that can be classified as pets. Birds, reptiles, and the like are designated as ‘wildlife’ whose rules and regulations for transport are complicated at best. Border control at your destination will also consider anything not cat or dog a special import that likely requires a quarantine. I would recommend leaving any type of animal that could be labeled wildlife at home whenever possible.
- Also, dog owners: beware of airline breed restrictions and keep in mind puppies under the age of 12 weeks usually aren’t accepted.
Don’t Plan Any Trip With Pets Less Than 6 Weeks In Advance
Most of the required immunizations have some sort of time restriction and must be done (e.g. two weeks) before traveling and pets typically need to be micro-chipped as well. In reality some trip can be done with as little as 2-4 weeks of preparation but many last minute trips with pets aren’t usually feasible. Begin researching the airline’s rules as well as the requirements of the country you’ll be visiting as far in advance as possible.
- Learn how to bring your pets to the U.S., travel with pets to Europe, and how to travel with pets in Turkey to get an idea of the paperwork involved.
Remember The Return
- Check what the requirements are for your home country. Some require blood tests to be done 3 months prior to return so a 1 month trip may not be feasible.
Without Booking, Find Your Flights
Look for your flights as you normally would without pets. Once you find the ideal route (I recommend avoiding layovers when flying with pets) and airfare, then call the airline directly. Airlines typically only allow two animals per cabin, as well as limit the total number that can be transported as cargo in the baggage hold. You don’t want to book a flight only to find out it doesn’t have any vacant space for your pets.
- This almost goes without saying, but booking passage for your pets costs money. Anywhere from $100-$300 so don’t forget to include that expense into your travel budget.
Follow The Rules Exactly
Improvising on what are usually very specific rules for pet travel can lead to your pet being quarantined or rejected at border control. These are worst-case scenarios that can be avoided by researching the complete requirements from the appropriate embassy and airline and meeting them exactly. Two weeks means two weeks and you might have to re-vaccinate for shots your pet is already up-to-date on. The vet visits are usually the most cumbersome part of the entire pet travel process; but it’s rarely complicated, just time consuming.
No Water Or Food 12 Hours Prior To Flight Time
Dogs and cats are both reluctant to pee or poop in their immediate surroundings (like pretty much everyone else) but traveling with an empty digestive system will make the ride more comfortable. We’ve all regretted having one too many cups of coffee at the airport but at least we don’t have to pee in our seats for relief – be considerate so your pet doesn’t have to either.
No Meat Bones Or Other Organics
A synthetic, flour-based bone can be relaxing for dogs stressed by their crate and isolation but any type of meat-based chewing material can result in a quarantine. Stick to completely flour-based bones (make sure to bring the packaging along) and do not line the crate with anything organic. No grass, hay, or anything similar.
You’ve Got Something To Declare
At customs. Namely, your pets. Assuming you’ve got your paperwork in order and microchip if required, it should be a painless process. Now you’re through the hard part – ready to explore a new destination with your cat or dog. At this point you’re probably realizing how smooth traveling with your pets can be with a little organization, preparation, and patience.