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7 Things You Need to Fly Internationally with Pets


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Taking a pet abroad can be a considerable challenge for pet parents. When I moved from the UK to Ireland in 2017, taking my cat Boo along was surprisingly easy due to EU rules and common travel between England and Ireland. 

I got her a pet passport, paid a small extra luggage fee, and loaded her onto the plane. She wasn't particularly pleased about flying, but the whole process was pretty smooth. 

While my experience traveling with a pet was relatively straightforward, each country has different rules, and importing to some countries can cause a few headaches. Quarantine requirements in countries without rabies, differing airline policies, and changing regulations can make it stressful to fly with your fur-baby.

While the rules and regulations around travel are complicated, you can take some of the stress out of the experience by coming prepared with everything you need to fly with your cat or dog. Here are 7 things you should bring when flying internationally with your pet.

Proof of vaccinations

When traveling abroad with a pet, paperwork is key. You should always bring original copies of your pet's paperwork, as some countries and airlines won't accept photocopies. Vaccination records should be one of the top items on your pet travel checklist. 

Countries require proof that your pet is fully vaccinated against rabies before traveling. For example, in the US, if you fail to provide proof that your dog is protected against rabies, you may be forced to quarantine your pet at your expense, or your pet may be denied entry to the country. If you're unclear on the rules surrounding vaccinations, contact your airline or your destination country's embassy.

black and white dog sitting on a vet exam table next to two vets in blue scrubs

Health certificate or pet passport

Another essential piece of documentation for traveling with a pet is a health certificate or pet passport. A health certificate is necessary for entering most countries as it confirms a vet says your pet is healthy and safe to travel. Along with a health certificate, you may also need to bring the results of blood tests, microchip information, and relevant travel permits depending on your destination.

Pet passports are commonly used in the EU and contain information about a pet's health, appearance, and vaccinations. Pet passports help streamline pet travel within the bloc

Microchip and microchip scanner

Many countries require your pet to have a microchip before traveling. This small piece of tech, the size of a grain of rice, emits a signal with an ID number when scanned, making it easy to identify a pet's parent. 

While efforts are being made to introduce a worldwide standard by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), some countries have different microchip requirements from others. 

The USA doesn't require all microchips to be ISO compliant, which could cause issues with international travel. Before traveling, talk to your vet, or contact the microchip manufacturer. They can tell you if your pet's microchip is ISO compliant. If the pet's chip isn't ISO compliant, you may need to get a replacement or bring your own microchip scanner with you to the airport.

brown pug dog sitting in a hard sided iata compliant travel crate

An IATA-compliant crate

If you have a carry crate for your pet, you'll need to ensure it meets airline standards. You'll need a sturdy, hard-sided crate with enough room for your pet to stand up, turn around, and sit in. 

Consider buying an International Air Transport Association (IATA) compliant crate if you're unsure if your crate is suitable for international travel. Different countries have different regulations for shipping pets, so contact your airline before traveling to ensure your crate meets your destination country's standards.

Emergency food and water

You shouldn't feed your pet for several hours before flying, as it can cause bloat, a potentially serious medical condition. However, there's a chance that your flight will be delayed once you've got your pet checked in and in the hands of your airline.

So, it's a wise idea to provide your airline with a small bag of emergency food and some water in case your flight is delayed for several hours. In this scenario, providing a small meal for your pet can make a big difference to your pet's wellbeing, especially on long flights.

Pet insurance

When traveling with your pet, expect the unexpected. Traveling internationally with your pet increases the risk of your fur-baby getting injured. So, it may be worth investing in both pet travel insurance and health insurance for extra peace of mind. 

Travel insurance can help cover the cost of travel-related injuries and illnesses like heatstroke, hypothermia, and motion sickness. Before arranging travel insurance, you'll want to check your airline or carrier company's liability for injuries. 

You should also check which countries your pet health insurance company covers. Many insurance policies only cover travel to Canada, while select companies cover international travel worldwide.

Extra walking supplies

Once you get off the plane at your destination, your pet will undoubtedly need to use the bathroom. You'll want to bring backup leashes and collars when traveling, just in case a collar or leash snaps. Otherwise, you could be stuck with a dog that needs the toilet without the equipment to let them do their business. 

If you have a cat, consider getting them used to a harness and bring along a portable litter tray so they can use the toilet. Leash training your cat will make traveling a lot easier, especially if your cat isn't keen on being picked up.

Need more advice on health certificates or travel-related injuries? Chat with a veterinary professional today to get the lowdown on international pet travel. 

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© 2024 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.