Best Tips For Travelling With A Dog
Travelling can be fun but it can also be stressful especially since our world went into a “new normal”. Lambo has traveled with us as we have relocated and lived in different countries but sometimes people travel with their dogs for vacation. Either way, there is a lot to prepare when flying your dog. Our pets are family members whether they have fur or feathers! Though we pet pawrents don't think of our dogs as cargo, they are considered such by the airlines. So here is everything you need to know about airline travel with your dog(s).
- Do everything in advance as much as possible.
- Get your dog a pet passport - this is usually supplied by your vet. Their pet passport needs to include their picture, birthdate, breed, weight, vaccinations, microchip.
- Get all the required vaccines including rabies. There is a set of mandatory vaccines and usually, you can get them in a bundle. After your dog gets their vaccines they will feel a bit lethargic and should get enough rest that day, they will be back to normal the next day. These vaccines need to be kept up every year especially if you intend on traveling. Our vet recommends getting the vaccines yearly a few days before the one-year mark. These vaccines will be marked down with the dates and stickers of the vaccines in your dog's pet passport.
- Your dog will require to be microchipped, the vet will administer this and put their microchip sticker number in their dog passport.
- Find an airline whether it’s domestic or international that allows pets on their flight (cabin and/or cargo) - most dogs will be accepted in cargo although some airlines will allow you to bring your dog in-cabin if it is small enough and meets the requirements for a soft carrier to be stowed under the seat.
- Reserve your flights in advance and put in a request for your pets in the cabin or the cargo hold. Once the request is approved you will be required to pay for the flight - usually 24-48 hours after reservation.
- If you are traveling into the European Union your dog requires a titre test as well, this can be done at your vet and can take several weeks for the results to arrive.
- Your dog should be old enough to travel, usually, airlines indicate they need to be16 weeks or older.
- Find pet-friendly accommodations!
- Ensure your dog is trained and well-mannered before airline travel.
PREPARING FOR TRAVEL
- Train your dog to get comfortable in their travel crate. Leave it out and reward them when they go in it. Try to do this for a few weeks or months before the flight so it can feel familiar and comfortable to them.
- Train your dog to use a pee pad in the case that you have a longer flight.
- Set up your dog’s travel crate so they can feel comfortable. You want to include the following on flight day:
- Their doggy bed (optional: blanket they like)
- Pee pad (if there is room)
- Attached food bowl - to be filled with dry food (kibble) on flight day
- Attached water bottle - to be filled with water on flight day - you can train your dog to drink from this by putting a bit of peanut butter on the end
- Put one of your worn t-shirts in the crate for your dog so they can have your scent with them and make them feel more at ease
- One or two of their favourite toys
- Optional: Include some treats in the kibble bowl or in their bed for a nice surprise
- Before going into the airport make sure to take your dog on a long walk so that they are tired and can go to the bathroom to make sure they are empty of number 1 and 2. ;)
- Write their name on the crate in big bold letters.
- Remember a health certificate is required and must be done no more than 10 days before the travel date.
- You could have your dog wear a harness or collar with an identification tag that has your dog's name, your name and contact info.
- Get to the airport early so you have plenty of time to walk your dog, sort everything and check-in.
- Have a folder with all your dog’s documents including pet passport, export and import permits, health certificate, etc.
- Don’t forget to pack copies of your dog's vaccination records or keep a picture of them on your smartphone. - Make sure your smartphone is charged!
- Use a pet relocation agency to help you with all your paperwork including export and import permits - I have done this myself but always used a pet agent. Depending on which country you're in they are usually not that expensive and worth it in my opinion. They help you with every step to ensure you have everything you need from paperwork, to which vaccines, arranging a microchip, helping you get the right size airline approved crate, the vet health certificate before departure to being at the airport for departure. Check out IPATA.org to find one in your location.
- Try a natural homeopathic herbal remedy to calm anxiety. One popular remedy is “Bach’s rescue remedy natural stress relief for pets”. Follow their website guidelines on how much to put in their water before the flight or check with your vet/holistic vet or email them! They are quite quick to respond.
- Pack a bag or include these items in your carry-on: poop bags, leash, harness, portable water and food bowl, ziplock with kibble, wet dog food packets, treats and a doggy sweater if it’s a colder location. This way once you pick them up you are ready for a walk, to treat them for doing so well and making sure they have food in water in case they are hungry and/or thirsty.
- Try not to relocate/travel often since they also experience jet lag, it can be stressful for them and they need time to adjust to a new environment.
- Check with airline staff upon boarding to double-check that your pets are on board if they are in cargo and to ask the pilot to ensure the temperature is ideal in the cargo pet hold - this is a tip that was recommended by flight attendants.
- If your dog has any medications make sure to time them out according to your flight and bring them with you.
- Find a local vet and their contact info and your departure location and destination location in case of any emergencies.
- Large enough to allow your dog to stand, turn, and lie down.
- Strong and sturdy with handles and grips.
- Leak-proof bottom.
- Ventilation on opposing sides, with exterior rims or knobs to prevent blocked airflow.
- “Live Animal” label, arrows showing upright position, with owner’s name, address, and phone number. - The LIVE ANIMAL stickers are put on my airport staff.
Airline travel can be stressful for you and your dog but with these tips you can make it easier and smoother for the both of you! The cargo hold is not the most luxurious or calming place for your dog but rest assured that thousands of dogs and other pets travel in the cargo hold on many different airlines every year. Remember to stay calm and at ease because our dogs can sense our emotions as well. Tell yourself and your dog positive affirmations like “everything will work out perfectly” or “you are always safe and well taken care of”. Good luck!