Travelling internationally is a dream come true to many, but what happens to your pet when you leave? Perhaps you decide to take Sparky with you on a cross-Atlantic flight to Italy but have no idea how.
No one wants to leave behind man's best friend. Or what about Fluffy, your Persian cat who tears up the curtains if you leave her for too long? In order to help you with this dilemma, we compiled this detailed travel guide on how to make your experience a breeze while maintaining your pet's sanity.
Pet Passports & Essential Paperwork
A pet passport is much like a human's in the sense that it provides all the necessary information for travelling legally overseas. It also includes all medical information, such as current vaccinations and whether the animal has any serious health issues. These documents and health certificates can be obtained through your veterinarian.
Every country requires some form of documentation for your pet's medical records. The passport is a nice and easy way to keep all those documents in one location. Here is more information on how to buy one.
Your dog or cat must have their rabies shot on record. Some countries (it varies for each) do not allow your pet to enter if the rabies shot was given fewer than 21 days prior to travel. Other countries also require tapeworm treatment between 24 and 120 hours before travel.
Here is a list of each country and their detailed regulations for importing pets.
8 Ways to Make Your Pet More Comfortable
Those of you with small dogs that can fit in a carrier on the plane are the lucky ones. Those of you with larger companions will have to figure out whether or not you're okay with placing them underneath the plane with the luggage. It sounds a bit scary, especially for your pet. However, there are ways to make the flight more comfortable for them.
- Ensure that the crate your pet will be staying in is sturdy and large enough for them to lie down comfortably. If it's too large, however, they could hurt themselves by falling over during turbulence.
- Make sure they have water. A good way to do this is by freezing water in a Tupperware bowl and placing it in the crate. This prevents water from spilling everywhere because it melts slowly.
- Include their favorite toy or blanket. This will cause their stress level to decline due to the comfort of having something from home, even when you aren't with them.
- The use of tranquilizers varies for each animal. If you know your dog or cat is not comfortable during travel, it might not be a bad idea. Ask your veterinarian for his or her opinion and whether or not your pet will be better off being sedated during the ;flight. As mentioned before, take into account the fact that there is turbulence during flights. If in the baggage area, a drowsy dog can easily fall and crash into its crate.
- Place extra padding and blankets inside to prevent sliding and to allow your dog to sleep on a softer surface.
- It would be wise to get your pet used to travelling in a crate before subjecting it to crate travel for multiple hours. If it feels safe inside one, chances are the flight will be no problem.
- Keep in mind the temperature changes. The cargo and baggage area is very cold, but once on the ground it could become very hot, depending on the season. The "Common Issues & Accidents" section expands on this.
- If you have a cat travelling under your seat, take a look at this article, which gives a quick overview of flying with your cat. If you're flying with a small dog, then you can relatively follow the same simple tips.
Common Issues & Accidents
The plane could get delayed once on the ground, which means your pet will be left underneath the plane in a non-pressurized cabin. The temperature, with no fresh air, can fluctuate drastically.
You can inform the airline that your dog is traveling in the cargo area and that they need to remove them quickly. It is all about being aware and persistent. Allotting your pet a lot of frozen water and blankets can prevent a medical emergency.
Hopefully, your pilot will love pets as much as this guy.
If you have a connecting flight, your dog's crate may not get reloaded, which is a very rare occurrence. Again, remind the airline that you are traveling with your pet. They can double check to make sure your animal is safely onboard before takeoff.
A dog's crate can tip over during a flight if it is not sturdy enough. Be smart when purchasing a travelling crate. Refer to this crate guide in order to purchase the perfect one for plane travel.
In case of a lost pet, always carry a photo of them and a form of identification to claim them. Making sure they have their tags and collar on before boarding is also a great way to prevent this issue. Most airlines require this or an identification chip.
A medical emergency could cause you to remain in the hospital, away from your pet, for more than 36 hours. Tokio Marine HCC - MIS Group provides a pet return policy for those traveling alone which allows you to send your pet home to its place of residence while you recover. No worries and no stress for you and your pet!
In order to prevent any of these major issues, be sure to ask the staff on board about your pet before take-off, during turbulence, and after landing. It never hurts to be pushy when it comes to your animal, but always remain polite. They may not always have an answer, but making the sure the staff is aware of your situation is always a good thing.
Pet Travel Insurance
A brilliant way to plan for your animal's well-being is to purchase insurance. If your pet is already covered by their health insurance, great! But pet travel insurance is usually a little different.
The coverages depend on which insurance company you choose, but benefits usually include emergency evacuations and travel costs due to such medical emergencies. Depending on your need, it might be beneficial to purchase a plan and protect your pet from unexpected problems.
Airlines That Accept Animals
There are multiple airlines in the United States that have become pet-friendly towards dogs and cats. Sadly, it is harder to ship small animals, reptiles, and birds. Many of the more exotic species must be sent through an air freight shipment rather than as excess baggage. Here is more information if this is the case for you.
This is a list of all the airlines which will accept your dog or cat and their costs for transport. Delta and United Airlines have specific pages designated for animal travel information. Delta will no longer transport pets as cargo. United offers the alternative option of shipping your pet through their PetSafe cargo.