Traveling internationally with our furry friends in tow is becoming more common practice these days, but it is vital that you do all your research well in advance before planning a trip with an animal. You need to be sure that you have all the required documents in order, your pet has all of the country specific vaccinations, you know the regulations of the individual country (or countries) that you are visiting, and that your copilot is prepared physically and psychologically for such an adventure.
Call your Pet‚Äôs Veterinarian
The first person you need to talk to, before even considering taking Fluffy out of the country, is her veterinarian. There are many important travel scenarios that need to be discussed with a professional, and there are uncertainties that can make or break your plans. Certain factors, such as the time of year you wish to fly, can play a big part on Fluffy’s comfort and health. For example, if it is summer time, is the cargo area of the plane air conditioned? Or, if it is winter, is the area heated? You need to ask lots of questions to find out if the transit may be too much for your pet to handle.
Research Individual Airline Regulations
Each air carrier has their own policies on pet travel, and prior to booking your flight, you should do some investigation on what various airlines do and don‚Äôt permit. For example, a smaller pet may be allowed to fly with you in the cabin, but it is up to each carrier to determine this. Do be sure to read up on pet carrier specifications for the air service you plan on utilizing as well.
Contact the Country¬†(or Countries) Consulate/Embassy
Before you purchase an airline ticket, be sure to that you have talked to someone from the consulate/embassy of the country (or countries)you plan on visiting to find out what their rules on animal import/export entail. Some countries require pets to be quarantined for a designated period of time before they are free to roam internationally, and it is possible that upon returning from abroad, your four-legged bud may require to be isolated before being permitted to run free in their homeland again. If you only plan on being away for a couple weeks, depending on country specific laws on international pet travel, it may be best to leave Fido with a care provider.
Health Certificate from APHIS Accredited Veterinarian
The official health documents needed to enter another country have to be filled out by an accredited veterinarian from APHIS (the United States Department of Agriculture‚Äôs Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service). Contact your state appointed¬†Veterinary Service Office to discuss your travel plans and necessary paperwork. The USDA has put together a very helpful list of commonly asked questions to explain this process in more detail. Many European nations require your pet to have a microchip implanted or to be tattooed for identification purposes; this is all information that your state Veterinary Service Office will be able to provide.
This post is only intended to be used as a starting point in planning your trip abroad with your fuzzy pal. Many pet travel regulations differ greatly depending on individual country and airline policies. These can change, so it is important that you check back for revisions that may have been made on animal transport procedures before every trip you take. I would like to suggest that you make a list of questions to ask your pet‚Äôs vet, APHIS, and the consulate/embassy of the country¬†(or countries) to which you are traveling. Do not be afraid to voice your concerns when speaking to any of these agencies, as they may assume that you already know pertinent details. Bottom line, do what is best for your pet. I have a 13 year old Labrador Retriever whom I would love to have by my side on my flights to Germany or to Italy, but I know that a trip like this would be too stressful on my old pup.