Every year millions of pets accompany their owners on their trips abroad, by air, land or sea. Tourists, businesspersons, and even people traveling for reasons as medical care prefer to take their beloved pets with them, rather than to leave them under the supervision of anyone at home.
The reasons for that are many: the wish to have their ‘little ones’ with them and create memories together, the lack of a person to whom the owner can trust the pet are the most commons reasons why travelers take their pets in miles-long journeys with them.
If you are planning to take your pet with you in a trip in the near future, whether that is a dog, a cat, a guinea pig, an iguana, and elephant or anything else in between, you must know a few things in advance.
This is our ultimate guide on how to prepare for traveling abroad with pets, and the measures you must take in order for your trip to be enjoyable and go smoothly.
Talk to Your Veterinarian
Before you do anything else, take your pet to your veterinarian, and tell him/her you want to take it on a trip. Your veterinarian will be able to answer many questions for you, as if your pet is old or strong enough to travel, the vaccines they need, and their passport.
Traveling can often be stressful for a pet, so age and strength is very important in such cases. Your veterinarian will give you tips and advices on how to handle the trip easier and better.
Tell him/her on the planned dates or your trip and he/she will be able to advise you about when the pet should take the required vaccines for traveling to your destination country.
Is Your Pet Old Enough to Travel?
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA)* your pet must be at least eight weeks old and fully weaned before traveling by air.
However, many airlines require that your pet must be older before traveling internationally. therefore you must contact the airline with which you plan to fly to your destination country, for more information in this regard.
On the other hand, when traveling by bus or train you should contact the bus or train agency for specific information. Most of them will not permit you to travel with your pet before it is fully weaned.
*The IATA is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing some 290 airlines or 82% of total air traffic.
Check Pet Entry Rules of Your Destination Country
Every world country has different rules and requirements for shipping pets. You should check these rules with utmost attention as if you do not meet even one of them, you will not be permitted to enter the destination country with your pet and you will have to go back home.
- Your pet’s passport
- Updated standard vaccines
- Other vaccines required by specific countries
- Some countries want your pet to be microchipped
- Several countries have mandatory quarantines (i.e. in Singapore the quarantine is mandatory for 30 days)
More than everything else, note than some countries permit entry to only specific pet animals like cats and dogs, and do not allow to enter pets animals like iguanas, chimpanzees or anything similar. Moreover, there are other countries that do not permit you to bring an animal into their territory, even if that is a service animal.
Get Your Pet’s Passport Ready
A pet passport is a document that contains your pet’s health records and their photo. It is a mandatory document for your pet to be able to enter another country.
The passport is a proof that your pet is in good health, has no rabies, and has all the required vaccines. The rules on rabies and vaccines differ from one country to the other and depend a lot, on what kind of pet you have, so you need to check with either the embassy of your destination country, or the traveling agency what are the vaccine requirements.
You will be able to get your pet passport at a certified veterinary, who can also confirm your pet has the necessary vaccines. Usually veterinaries know what a passport must contain for whatever country you are visiting. However, pay attention to what the passport contains and misses, as having a complete and accurate pet passport is very important to have a smooth trip with your pet.
Note that there are some countries that will want you to have your pet microchipped, as the EU member countries.
Make Sure Your Pet Has All Required Vaccines
The list of vaccines that your pet must have taken depends on the type of pet you have and your destination country. Often, your pet’s age also plays a role. Most veterinaries know what vaccines your pet may need for each particular country. Yet, make sure you also check either with the embassy or the agency you are traveling with, just in case.
Most countries will want your pet to have the standard annual vaccinations, as well as to be vaccinated against rabies and tapeworm among others. All countries have a time limit when the vaccine must have been taken the earliest or the latest.
Book Pet-Friendly Hotels/Hostels
Many hotels either have no-pet policies or will make you pay extra for your pet. Make sure you check in advance, so you do not spend money on a place that will tell you to leave your pet outside once you arrive there. It would be too much trouble to try finding another hotel that is pet-friendly.
Check for Veterinaries Near Your Hotel
Your pet may be young and healthy, but it is always better to be prepared for anything that may come. Check for emergency veterinarian clinics closest to your hotel or place of stay in your country of residence.
Eat at Pet-Friendly Restaurants Nearby
Your country of residence may be a perfect country to live in for pet owners, giving you the opportunity to enter every restaurant, bar or bakery with your pet accompanying you. However, that is not the case with most countries in the world. If you are planning to take your dog with you when you go to eat, you must check for restaurants that allow pets in.
If you are visiting a country in which such options are few to none, then the best thing you can do is eat food sold by street vendors.
Check Pet-Friendly Tourist Attractions
Most museums and other indoor tourist attractions will not allow you to bring a pet inside. This except for America, if your pet categorizes as a Service Animal.
However, you can still take your pet to see these places from outside as animals are permitted outside.
Check for Pet Daycare
If you are planning to leave your pet at a daycare in the country your visiting, you had better check for those, if there is any. While in most world countries such an option is available, in others you will either find none or those you find may be packed.
Check in advance and book the dates you want to drop your pet there.
Bring a Pet First Aid Kit
As we said, you can never see what may happen, so bring a pet first aid kit in any case. Make sure it contains the following:
- Absorbent gauze pads
- Adhesive tape
- Cotton balls or swabs
- Fresh 3% hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting (always check with veterinarian or animal poison control expert before giving to your pet)
- Ice pack
- Disposable gloves
- Scissors with a blunt end
- OTC antibiotic ointment
- Oral syringe or turkey baster
- Alcohol wipes
- Styptic powder
- Saline eye solution
- Artificial tear gel
Make sure to check your pack every few months to make sure nothing has expired or needs to be replaced. And of course keep your kit out of the reach of children.
Feeding Your Pet Before a Flight: Yes or No
You are highly advised not to feed your pet shortly before your trip. Instead, try feeding them a small meal about two hours before the flight. Try to exercise them as much as you can before they go in the cargo hold (if so).
Yet, make sure you give them water until you hand them to the airplane staff.
Airplanes: Cargo Holds or Cabin
When it comes to traveling by plane, you have two options: you can either place your pet in a cargo hold, or try to take it in the cabin with you. Most planes will allow you to bring your pet in the cabin only if it is too young, or you have a special need in which your pet assists you, i.e. you are blind or have vision impairment.
If your pet is not allowed in the cabin they will be transported as special baggage in heated and ventilated hold, which is proven to be better for animals traveling, as it is way quieter and darker.
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