The final post in the Traveling with Pets Blog Series will cover the art of flying with your pet and an Around the World Guide to travelling with your pet to avoid as much quarantine as possible!
Training is paramount to ensuring your pet does not have an awful flying experience. The first step is getting them used to their travel crate. At first this should just involve leading them to the crate and giving them some treats, then guiding them into it and allowing them to come back out. Once they are comfortable in the crate they can be shut in for small periods of time, eventually getting longer and longer. Ensure they are always rewarded when they are calm in the crate, you can even leave treats in there for them. Eventually you can start moving the crate. For a large dog this may not be possible, but for small dogs, cats, small mammals and birds consider walking around the house with the crate in your hands for a few minutes so they get used to the movement. Alternatively you could take them for drives in the crate. This is a slow process and needs to be done over WEEKS not days, so make sure you are well prepared! To learn more about crate training check out this great hand out by Sophia Yin.
Most airlines require you to check your pet in early at a special cargo area. Check with the airline what will happen after that – will your dog be walked before the flight? Will they be offered water? Every flight is different and sometimes it is worth the cost to have a ‘flight agent’ for your pet that can help you make these decisions. Some companies even offer a special service where they care for your pet right up until boarding, and again afterwards until you can collect them.
Either way ensure your pet has had an opportunity to stretch their legs, go the toilet and have a drink right before they are taken to the cargo area. In terms of feeding before a flight, I generally recommend no food within four hours of leaving for dogs and cats. Eating will increase the chance of them vomiting on the plane; the exception to this would be puppies or pets with medical conditions like diabetes. For small mammals and birds you should be able to leave them some dry food in the cage because they can become hypoglycaemic very quickly without food.
Most airlines require your pet to travel in the cargo area of the plane, especially for long haul flights. This means they have to be in a secure and safe crate. Crates should have solid walls (with small holes) so that your pet is not exposed to as much visual stimulus. The gate should be easy to secure and for large dogs you have to consider their strength and make sure they cannot escape!
Size is everything for these crates. You do not want them to be so big that your pet doesn’t feel safe, but they need to be able to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably. Most airlines have specific travel crate size requirements based on the size of your pet, so make sure you do your research.
Comfort is the next factor to consider. Although having a comfy blanket seems like a good idea consider your pet’s personality – are they the type of dog who might chew their blanket and eat it when stressed? If so a good quality dog bed that can be attached to the bottom of the crate may be better. Having an absorbent material is also a plus just in case your pet wets themselves during the trip.
For birds ensure they have a sturdy perch, it needs to be high enough that their tail does not touch the ground and low enough that they can stand fully in the crate. Lining the crate with newspaper or similar will help catch waste products.
Food and Water
Some airlines will not allow food and water in with your pets. Very young pets, birds and small mammals flying for longer than a few hours MUST have access to food as they can become hypoglycaemic. Putting in some watery fruit can sneak past the no water rule of some airlines, and some dry pellets will help keep their energy levels up for long flights. If you can supply water it should be in a non-spill dispenser. If you can supply food, dry is generally less messy, and the food container should be attached to the cage. For adult dogs and cats I generally recommend no food as it will help reduce the risk of motion sickness.
Make sure your pet is microchipped and ensure you have a laminated information card attached to the crate. The information card should include your pets name, your name and contact information and any special requirement for your pet. For example if your parrot is a biter write it on the card!
Most airlines will not allow pets to fly with sedation medication in their system. However if your pet is nervous or gets motion sickness discuss the options with your vet. Antihistamines can cause very mild sedation and help ease travel sickness, and there are anti-anxiety medications available that can be used safely on flights. Ensure any regular medication is given as prescribed by your veterinarian.
Around the World Guide
First a disclaimer – countries change their import laws frequently, so make sure you do a really thorough check before you take your pet anywhere on what is required! This information was accurate at the time of writing but it is not unheard of for people to call their flight agent the day of a flight and find out something has changed! So TRIPLE CHECK every detail to ensure your pet doesn’t get stuck somewhere! I have written his guide based on the laws for DOGs, cats have pretty similar requirements, but the importation of exotic pets can get quite complicated so make sure you do your research!
Second – the preparation! Most countries will require proof of vaccination, worming and microchips. So ensure your pet has their core vaccines (‘C3’ for dogs or ‘F3’ for cats) and Rabies vaccinations with a recent rabies titre. A rabies titre shows that your pet is still immune to the rabies virus and most countries will want to see one before allowing you entry. Make sure you pet has been wormed on a three monthly basis and is microchipped. Once again check the requirements for each country before you travel just in case!
So with all that being said let us begin our round the world trip!!!
Note: Almost all countries require pets to be at least 3 months of age for travel, some 10 months of age
Origin: Australia. Destination: England
Quarantine Time: None
- Rabies Vaccine within the last 12 months (but not within 21 days of travel) or proof they have come from rabies free country
- Core Vaccine within the last 12 months (but not within 21 days of travel)
- EU Health Certificate for England from an Australian Export Vet (ENSURE YOUR VET IS AQIS APPROVED!) completed within 10 days of travel
- Microchip – implanted before the vaccinations and tests are done for ID
- Tapeworm treatment one to five days before travel
- Nipah Virus Titre testing within 10 days of travel and certificate to say pet does not live in hendra virus area
Origin: England. Destination: Travel Europe!
Requirements: Get a pet EU Passport – this Passport gives you (almost) free range for travel throughout the EU with your dog or cat!
Origin: England. Destination: USA
Quarantine Time: None
- Rabies Vaccine within the last 12 months (but not within 21 days of travel) or proof they have come from a rabies free country
- Health certificate from approved veterinarian
Origin: USA. Destination: Hawaii
Quarantine Time: 5 days
- Evidence of two ORIGINAL rabies vaccination certificates, with one vaccine being given within 12 months of travel
- Proof of Rabies Titres test that must be complicated 120 days BEFORE entry into Hawaii, but no more than 36 months
- Health certificate from approved veterinarian and appropriate forms
- Proof of flea/tick treatment within 14 days of arrival
- All forms should be submitted before you leave the States
Origin: Hawaii. Destination: New Zealand
Quarantine Time: 10 days
- Rabies Vaccine within the last 12 months (but not within 21 days of travel)
- Health certificate from approved veterinarian
- Apply for a permit 6 weeks before travel
- Tick and tapeworm treatment within 48 hours of arrival
- Babesia testing within 16 days of travel
- Heartworm test and treatment within 30 days of travel
- Leptospirosis vaccination and test within 30 days of travel
Origin: New Zealand. Destination: Home to Australia!!!
Quarantine Time: None
- Stay in New Zealand for 90 days
- Then you can enter with just a Health Certificate that states the dog has been treated for Tick/Worms within 5 days of travel and has had certain disease testing
Could you imagine taking your pet around the world like that! This guide is following one the easiest routes possible and you can still see it requires so much preparation, thought and costs. For information on even more countries check out pettravel.com.
There are some really amazing travelers who have gone all over with their pets – check out some of my Faves:
- Gigi travelling with tiny Luna: www.gigigriffis.com
- Kelly travelling with Loki the wolf dog: www.lokithewolfdog.com
- Liz does a lot of sailing with her kitty Amelia: www.swellvoyage.com
If you have travelled or moved overseas with your pet tell us your story in the comments!
Many happy tails to you and your fur friend,
Dr Sheridan x