Travelling with your dog can be a very fun experience, but when you intend to do so internationally, careful and thorough planning are required to prevent any surprises.
“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” Roger A. Caras.
To Make the Journey a Pleasant Experience
Dogs are an important part of our life, we share many special moments with them. Travelling with your dog can be a very fun experience but when you intend to do so internationally, careful and thorough planning are required to prevent any surprises.
Having had the experience of travelling with dogs through different countries I have made a list of important steps one should follow before flying.
1. Once you have decided where you will be travelling to, you need to study very well the restrictions for importing dogs to that country. This should be done a few months in advance because some countries may require you to do a blood test for the rabies, some may require your dog to be in quarantine etc.
There are three ways you can take your dog into a plane. In the first two options, the dog flies in the same plane as you, in the third, the dog flies by himself.
- Cabin, my favourite. When the dog is the right size, he can be allowed to travel with you in the cabin. Your dog will fly with you in a crate in front of your feet/legs.
- Hold luggage. When your dog is too big to fly in cabin, he will have to travel in the hold part of the plane. He will travel in the same plane as you but in a different room.
- Manifest cargo. This means that the dog flies in a different plane by himself. It may be a scary, but it is necessary to take your dog into certain countries like for example Ireland, England, Scotland or Australia.
2. Head to the veterinary and make sure that you and your dog will be able to fulfil every one of the requirements before you fly.
3. Once you know where you will be flying to, and you have gathered all the information regarding the country regulations, you will need to dig some more to find out what airlines are allowed to fly with pets into that country. Although pretty similar, every airline has different rules regarding the weight allowed to fly a pet in cabin, the crate’s size and the number of dogs allowed per person and per flight.
However, remember that if you are flying to a country like the UK or Australia where you need to book your pet’s flight through an agency, you cannot deal directly with the airlines!
You will need to find a reliable pet travel agency that you can entrust your friend’s safety to. I would recommend to start here: http://www.ipata.org/for-pet-owners/search-on-line-for-a-pet-shipper/
4. If the country of destination has quarantine requirements you may also be required to make a booking beforehand.
5. The next step will be to buy a crate of the right size for your beloved friend. Although it is not a requirement for all the airlines, I would recommend buying a IATA (The International Air Transport Association) approved travel crate, because as my grandma used to say: It is better to be safe than sorry!
Besides that list, I have also made another list about things that one may forget with all the hassle that travelling involves.
Things to consider
Hay and other natural bedding materials need to be licensed to enter some countries like the US, therefore a simple puppy pad may be the best idea.
Forget conventional water bowls. For long trips the best is to use the typical water bottles used for bunnies and guinea pigs but make sure you teach your dog how to use them before the flight!
Make sure that your dog is properly identified, with a microchip and also with an ID tag. It may be a good idea to include two phone numbers, one from the country of origin and one from the destined country. It is unlikely your dog will get lost but as I said before: Better safe than sorry!
Some dogs do not like crates very much. Remember to buy the crate with enough time so that you can slowly get your dog accustomed to it. It will make the trip a lot less stressing for him.
And one last thing that I wanted to point out: Do not forget your car! Consider the car if you are travelling within Europe. Travelling with car it is often less stressing for the dog and it may turn out to become an unforgettable experience for all of you!
Resuming: Do research early, reserve early, and get early to the airport!
Early is the rule because...? What? In case you forgot... Better to be safe than sorry!!
Wish you and your beloved furry family members many safe and happy journeys together!
Written by Nuria Cobos
OMD Team Member, Marketer and a dog lover.