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How to Travel Internationally with Your Dog

How to Travel Internationally with Your Dog

Can you travel internationally with a dog? You most definitely can, but it would take a lot of research and preparation if you want the whole process to go smoothly. Going overseas with a pet can prove to be much more complicated than traveling with another person. If you can leave your pet at home while you travel, there are steps you can take so you can go on a worry-free trip. But if this absolutely isn’t an option, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about international pet travel, including country regulations, quarantines, boarding requirements, and other things you should expect.

1.    Consider different travel options.

What are the ways can I travel internationally with a dog? You may consider traveling by air, aboard a ship, and by train. These come with more or less the same requirements for a permit, with air travel being the most complex when it comes to boarding regulations.

·        Pet travel by air

Traveling by airplane is the riskiest option when transporting your dog to another country. Although air travel is generally safe for pets, some breeds like bulldogs and pugs are especially prone to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke. Some airlines allow passengers to bring their dogs with them to the cabin, given they meet the size requirements. Large dogs, however, are only allowed to board the cargo hold.

·        Travel by sea

Only a few cruise liners allow pets aboard their ships, except when you’re going on international travel with a service dog. You may try to obtain a permit for your dog to stay with you in a private cabin, although other ships allow pets only into its kennel facilities.

·        Travel by train

AMTRAK in the US and many European railway operators allow pets on-board as long as the owners obtain the permits and meet all the requirements. With AMTRAK, only five pets per train are allowed so you have to book in advance. You’d also have to fill out some paperwork prior to boarding and must keep your pet inside a carrier at all times.

2.    Obtain vet clearance and certification.

Country rules and regulations regarding international pet travel are in place for reasons such as preventing disease-infected animals from entering borders. Rabies-controlled countries require traveling dogs to be microchipped. A dog traveling to another country would have to be vaccinated for rabies and in some cases, for distemper, canine influenza, leptospirosis, and other diseases.

Obtaining certification from your vet showing you’ve complied with a country’s regulations is the first step to arranging international travel with your dog. Health certificates must be certified by a USDA or CFIA certified vet.

3.    Read about rules in your destination country.

Rules on international pet travel may vary according to each country and this is where you must apply due diligence. Contact the destination country’s embassy for a list of all the requirements you must comply with, so you can prepare them in time for your departure.

·        Quarantine requirements

Inquire about the destination country’s quarantine requirements so you know what to expect when you arrive with your pet. Depending on the country, quarantine may last for a week or up to six months (such as in Japan). Quarantine exemptions may apply if you’ve complied with certain requirements.

·        Banned breeds

As much as you’d want to take your furry friend wherever you’re going, his breed may be completely disallowed from entering certain countries. Commonly banned breeds include pit bulls, rottweilers, mastiffs, and bull terriers for their arguably “violent” reputations. Avoid having your pet sent back or worse, euthanized, by making sure he doesn’t fall under banned breeds under the rules of a specific country.

·        Additional requirements

Apart from the more obvious requirements like health certificates, a country may impose additional steps for compliance. These may include blood titer tests and import permits. Get this information from the embassy as well.

4.    Visit the airline website and call the airport.

Information on airline guidelines for pet travel would also be essential in your preparations. Check the airline website for pet travel policies on size of dog allowed, how many dogs are allowed, crate requirements, and so on. You might also need to call the airport to inform them beforehand of your travel plans and ask for boarding guidelines.

·        Date and time of travel

Some airlines disallow pet travel to the Northern hemisphere between May and September when the weather is hottest. If you’re booking a flight, it would also be best to choose a flight that arrives late at night or early in the morning. An airline may apply restrictions if, the forecasted temperature drops or exceeds a certain limit.

·        Dog carriers

In terms of international travel, dog crates are a definite requirement. There are strict policies as to the size, material, and labeling of carriers used to transport a pet. Inquire about the airline’s pet carrier requirements in advance and make sure that your carrier is up to their standards.

·        Cabin or cargo hold

Airlines may allow your pet to travel with you in the cabin if he meets the size requirements. If you’re doing research on how to travel internationally with a small dog with your airline of choice, most likely your pet would need to be kept in a carrier that fits under the seat.

Large dogs on the other hand would be transported in the cargo hold. International travel with a large dog in the cabin isn’t allowed at this time by any airline. But it’s actually not as bad as it sounds. This section of the plane is actually quiet and dark with good ventilation and controlled temperatures, which would be more comfortable for animals.

·        Layovers

Layovers is also an important consideration if you’re traveling with your pet by plane. Some airlines require a 3-hour layover minimum for planes transporting animals in the cargo hold. Call the airline for information about pet relief services during layovers.


5.    Get your dog ready.

Your preparations would, of course, include prepping your dog for the trip. If this is his first time to ride a plane, then you certainly have your work cut out for you. Crate training, for instance, is one of the most essential tips when preparing to travel with your dog.

On the day of your departure, give him time to exercise a little by walking him around. Don’t overfeed him before boarding, but you can ensure he has a supply of freshwater and maybe some treats in his crate. If your dog is traveling in the cargo hold, you may also put one of your used shirts inside his carrier as this could help him feel calmer.

Find out how your pet in the cargo hold will be handled during layovers. And remember, dogs can get lost in airports, too. In case this happens to you, report the lost pet to PawMaw.com and work with airport authorities immediately.

Here is an infographic for pet travel packing list


You’ve just been given the rundown on how to travel with my dog internationally. Making preparations certainly isn’t a walk in the park. In fact, you must take it seriously to avoid any untoward incidents that could stress you out or worse, traumatize your pet. If you really must take your pet with you overseas, the key is doing your research and coordinating with embassies and airport authorities. 


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