A dog wearing a hat with a suitcase

International travel planning can be both exciting and arduous. Details, details, details… that is the mantra. Despite how frequently people travel overseas, the fact that there is a lot of planning involved remains the same; especially when you travel with a pet.

As any experienced jetsetter with a fur friend knows, travel with a pet requires extra time and attention to ensure the safe, comfortable wellbeing of your fur friend en route.

Even a simple road trip entails significant preparations when a pet is involved, but international air travel presents additional, and sometimes complicated, concerns. If the details seem overwhelming, consider a professional pet travel company like Bring Fido to help you with your plans.

Pre-Trip Pet Health Requirements

The main concern of those traveling overseas with pets are the health requirements. Many countries have strict regulations regarding animals, sometimes including lengthy quarantines. Not only are these quarantines costly, but they will also separate you from your pet, which can be stressful on you both. Do your research well in advance of your travel date, since these factors may be prohibitive.

Even countries that do not require quarantine almost always require a certificate of health. This shows that your pet is free from contagious diseases and parasites. These certificates must be obtained from a USDA certified veterinarian, such as the Pet Experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center.

Other concerns include microchipping your pet for his or her safety (and to meet the requirements of certain countries) and familiarizing yourself with any current outbreaks or health threats where you’re traveling. U.S. consulate offices generally have this information.

If you are returning to the U.S. with your pet, be certain you understand the guidelines for re-entry as well. These can be found on the USDA website.

International Travel With a Pet: Ready, Set, Go!

Now that you have ensured that your pet meets health requirements, you will need to begin planning for the day of travel.

If you’re driving across the border to Mexico or Canada, taking your pet with you is less complicated than if you’re flying. Take a valid rabies certificate and a recent health certificate from your pet.

If you’re flying to your destination, the best option by far is if you are able to bring your pet with you in the cabin. Many cats, small lap dogs, and young pets can fit comfortably under the seat, in a soft carrier. In many cases, however, your pet will need to travel as cargo. If this is the case, opt for an airline that is pet-friendly and provides climate controlled cargo space, as well as can offer fresh water and safe handling while your pet is in their care.

If your pet must travel as cargo, make sure the crate is well-made and roomy enough so he or she can stand up or move comfortably.

You will also want to pack:

  • Medical records and health certificate
  • Medications, food, treats
  • Bottled water (for layovers, if your pet is in the cabin with you)
  • Food and water bowls
  • Favorite toy and blanket
  • Leash, collar with ID tags, and waste bags
  • Grooming supplies

Prior to flight, avoid feeding your pet anything other than a light snack, but encourage hydration with plenty of fresh water. You will also want to be certain to take frequent exercise and “potty” breaks before boarding, especially if your pet will be separated from you during the flight.

This may seem like a lot to consider, and it can be! That is why we encourage you to contact the Pet Experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center to help walk you through the process of preparing your pet for the amazing journey ahead.

We look forward to seeing you and your four-legged travel companion!