Traveling abroad with your little furry friends sure sounds like a lot of fun but in no way is as simple as you might like to think. Okay, it sounds a bit demotivating but all I am trying to suggest is if you plan out everything from the start, you can easily turn your holidays into your most cheerful memories. It’s exactly as they say, do all your hard work before the trip begins so you can relax once the plane takes off. Okay, I don’t know who ‘they’ really are but the saying is true by all means.
Getting back to the subject, let’s look at everything you needs to know before getting on that plane leaving all the worries home and making this holiday season the best one for you and your pet.
To begin with, you need to get yourself familiarized with the different rules for pet travel prevailing in different countries. For instance, for traveling within the United Kingdom, the pets must meet the essential criteria mentioned in the Pet Travel Scheme or PETS such as:
- The pet must be microchipped. Though every country exercises its own rules and regulations, the majority of them require those 15-digit non-encrypted microchips to be implanted to the pets.
- Likewise, there are many countries which require that your pet must be vaccinated for not only rabies (it’s quite common) but also for leishmaniosis, para-influenza brucellosis and other such. Find out your destination’s vaccine requirements and act accordingly.
- Next comes the veterinary health certificate which is a mandatory document required by almost all the countries. You can get your copy from your country’s embassy and get your vet to fill it out within a week.
Moreover, if you are travelling within the European Union, you can bypass this health certificate for a passport for your pet (just like yours). And guess what, it works the same way as your passport does.
- Another thing to ensure before traveling abroad is whether or not your dog breed is even allowed in that particular country. Yes, there are many countries with strict regulations regarding which dog breeds are or aren’t allowed. Most of these banned breeds are considered too violent such as Japanese Tosa Inus, Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, Neapolitan Mastiffs etc.
- Also, do check out your destination country’s quarantine requirements before moving forth. Although a majority of the countries do not quarantine pets if all of the above requirements are met, there are a few with stricter quarantine requirements which sometimes can be as long as 6 months (yes, you guessed it right, I am talking of Japan). Quarantine can be scary as hell, make sure it doesn’t ruin your holidays.
Though the above-mentioned steps are explained in accordance with PETS, they generally serve as a guideline for traveling anywhere across the world. Next comes getting yourself acquainted with your airlines. Yes, here too you need to do some homework in accordance with the different rules different airlines have regarding how the pet can travel.
Generally, there are two ways. Either your airline will allow the pets in the cabin itself where they must be kept in special carriers under the seat (suitable for only small dogs and cats), or they can be transported as cargo which is considered somewhat better than the other option since it is much quieter this way.
One other way includes traveling your pet as an air cargo shipment on a separate flight. Though I would not recommend this option, not until it is deemed necessary as per the destination country’s rules (or sometimes because of its big size), it’s better to keep your companion with you or at least in the same plane during the travel.
Moving on, below are mentioned a few such tips to make the boarding and deboarding process less stressful for your pet.
- Consult with your veterinarian for advice regarding what and when to give food and water during the flight.
- Also, ask him about the sedatives and tranquilizers. I would strongly oppose the use of any such as they may harm your pet while in flight.
- If possible, opt more for direct flights instead of connecting ones or at least ones with fewer layovers.
- Make your pet comfortable with the carrier by locking it in for a few hours every day for at least a week prior to the flight.
- Some pets get stressed out before the travel. Walking them before leaving the house and boarding the plane will help soothe them.
- And lastly, make sure the door of the carrier latches securely so as to avoid any mis-happenings in transit.
Meanwhile, check in as late as possible in order to reduce its stress level if your flight allows your pet to travel in the cabin with you. If not, i.e. your pet is to be transported as cargo, try checking in early so it can go to the quiet and dimly lit hold of the plane.
A Word of Caution: One last thing, sometimes pets do get sick or even die on the flight despite how many precautions you take. If such an unfortunate incident happens with you, it is required of the public health officials to perform an autopsy on the animal to make sure it didn’t die of any infectious disease (often at your expense). Also, there’s a possibility you might not get the animal remains afterward. Though it rarely happens, I just want to make sure you know of this.
A Word of Advice: Above, I believe I have covered almost every point that can easily and harmlessly get your pet to arrive at its destination and get back home healthy and safe. But if you still harbor any doubts or believe your pet doesn’t meet any above-mentioned criteria, it’s better to leave your pet with a family member or a trusted friend or even a boarding kennel. And now relax, you have earned this trip, enjoy it with your best friend.