Make International Travel With Your Pets Simpler By Following These Basic Guidelines

traveling pug

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.

tokyo narita airportDon’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.

Remember The Return

And this is very important:

  • 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.

spanish stop sign

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.

glass of waterNo 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.

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February 11, 2014 at 17:26

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Sonya February 11, 2014 at 18:30

Fab post! I’m considering an international trip with my dogs and these are some great travel guidelines.

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Anil Polat February 13, 2014 at 12:04

Have a wonderful trip! I’m sure your dogs will appreciate coming with you on a new adventure.

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Craig October 22, 2014 at 10:14

Thanks for all the pet travel tips, my dog is like a member of my family, I could never leave him behind while I go on vacation

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Patrick Buckley April 10, 2015 at 16:10

So I have a rather large male dog, around 70 lbs to be exact. He is a boxer/akita mix but fortunately takes after the akita and doesn’t have the scrunged face issue. Are there standard weight limits in which airlines will not fly your pet? I’m guessing it probably depends on each specific airline, just wondering if you know of certain standards across the board for weight limits.

Thanks!

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Anil Polat April 21, 2015 at 08:09

It does depend on the airline!

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Tiffany October 21, 2017 at 23:21

Thanks for all useful tips, traveling with your pet could be stressful for both of you but preparing yourself for what to expect at the airport can allow for a stress-free and pleasant travel day for you and your pet. If your carrier is new, try and give your pet time to get accustomed to it before travel day, also make sure to bring any travel items your pet may need with you.

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