How to Fly Internationally With a Dog

Three Parts:Planning Your TravelUnderstanding Pet Travel RegulationsPreparing Your Dog for Flight

Travelling internationally with a dog can be a stressful (and even dangerous) experience, for both you and the dog. Nonetheless, if you think ahead and plan carefully, the process can be made simpler, and you and your dog can arrive safely at your destination.

Part 1
Planning Your Travel

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    Begin planning early. Travelling with a dog, and everything associated with it, can take a lot of time to prepare. Plan your trip, book your flights, and sort out your paperwork well in advance – ideally months ahead, if possible.
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    Check the airline restrictions. Different airlines have different policies on pets. Thoroughly familiarize yourself with your airline’s policies on pets. While there are several lists online, be sure to contact your airline directly for their latest policies, as they are subject to change at any time.[1]
    • Be sure to check what breeds your airline allows to fly. In particular, some airlines will refuse to fly some toy or short-nose breeds.
    • Of particular importance is whether your dog can travel with you in the cabin, or whether they must travel as cargo. The Humane Society recommends that pets travel in the cabin where possible.[2]
    • If your dog must travel in cargo, check whether the cargo area for dogs is controlled for climate and pressure. This is a basic necessity for flying with a dog, and you should not fly your dog with an airline that doesn’t do this.
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    Contact the airline to reserve tickets for your dog. Most airlines do not allow for booking space for animals online. Once you have booked your own tickets, phone the airline immediately afterwards to reserve tickets for your dog. There may be extra charges for transporting an animal.
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    Book direct flights where possible. This prevents mistakes arising from transferring your dog from one flight to another, and minimises disruption which could cause your dog stress.
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    Tailor your flight to the time of year if your dog is flying in cargo. If your dog isn't travelling in the cabin, consider the climate when booking your flight. If it is a warm summer, fly in the early morning or late evening. If the temperature is colder, fly at midday.[3]

Part 2
Understanding Pet Travel Regulations

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    Visit your vet. The health requirements for flying with a dog vary from country to country. However, no matter where you are or where you’re going, it is always helpful to visit your vet, who should be able to help you negotiate the requirements for travelling with your dog.
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    Check your countries’ pet travel regulations. Each country has different regulations governing bringing pets into it. Read these regulations thoroughly and ensure that you comply with them. Bear in mind that you must check your own country’s requirements as well as those of the country you are travelling to!
    • Your vet is particularly helpful here. Ask them for help fulfilling the requirements needed to allow your pet to travel.
    • Again, all of this can take a long time, so begin planning early!
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    Make sure your dog has the necessary paperwork. A must is a Health Certificate, which your vet should issue. There may be other necessary or useful documents you need to obtain, such as a Pet Passport in EU countries.[4] Again, check what paperwork is required well in advance. Your vet will be able to help you with this.

Part 3
Preparing Your Dog for Flight

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    Prepare your pet’s crate. Your dog should have a sturdy, comfortable carrier. The precise nature of the container will depend upon the size of your dog. The two most important considerations are that the crate is the correct size for your dog, and that it will securely contain your dog.[5]
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    Put contact information on the crate. Write down your dog’s name, your contact information (both phone and e-mail), flight numbers, and final destination. Tape it to the crate, preferably with a strong adhesive tape so it doesn’t come loose.
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    Put contact information on your dog. Your dog's collar should contain the same information as its carrier.
    • The American Veterinary Medicine Association recommends having your dog implanted with a microchip to make it easier to find your pet if it becomes lost. Talk to your vet about whether or not this is the right option for your pet. [6]
    • Make sure that the carrier is comfortable for your dog – put in soft bedding, a water dish and something with your scent on it. It should also have a food dish as well, especially on longer flights.[7]
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    Get your dog comfortable with its carrier. Getting your dog used to its crate is a long-term process, which usually takes several weeks. Again, begin early! Accustom your dog to being in the crate and being jostled and moved in ways it's not used to.[8]
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    See your vet about sedation. Whether or not dogs should be sedated before travel is a controversial issue. Sedation may help with the stress of international travel – but it also poses potentially fatal risks for your dog’s health, and is generally not recommended. Consult your vet to determine whether or not sedation is the right option for your dog.[9]
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    Prepare your dog the day before flying. Before you fly, reduce your dog’s food intake, but ensure they have plenty of water. Do not feed your dog for several hours before flying. Make sure to take them on a long walk before they fly, to allow them to eliminate waste and use up energy.[10]
    • This is dependent on the age and breed of your dog: if you are flying with a young puppy or a toy breed puppy, you shouldn’t withhold food. Check with your vet for more specific recommendations about food intake.
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    Let the airport and airline staff know about your dog. If possible, watch your dog being loaded on to the plane; at minimum, ensure that you are notified that your dog has been boarded. When you fly, notify the captain and crew that your dog is on board. They may take special steps to ensure your dog’s safety and comfort.[11]

Article Info

Categories: Dogs | Air Travel