How to Fly Your Pet Internationally


17 May 2022
Having a pet can radically improve your life. Once you have one, you suddenly don’t understand the statement: money can’t buy you love, because you know that it can.


The connection you have with your pet is unlike any human connection you’ll experience; it’s a different kind of love, one that’s endlessly forgiving and supporting. There’s no denying that you love your pet. This affection can make things like moving or travelling hard on you. You’re left wondering what your pet is going to think is going on and struggling to figure out boarding, pet-sitting or bringing your pet along. The following will explore one element of this in detail: transporting your pet internationally. In particular, it will focus on transporting your pet across distances that require a flight.

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Can Pets Go On Planes?

The short answer is yes; pets can travel on planes. Depending on the size of your pet, however, the process will look different. Lapdogs who can sit in purses or on laps are sometimes allowed to travel with their owners among the passengers. This option often overlaps with your carry-on permissions, meaning bringing your pet into the cabin can result in you having less luggage you’re allowed to bring into the cabin.

Bigger pets, rarer pets, or pets that cause a lot of allergies will often be required to go in a special cargo holding area within a plane-safe crate. This option typically involves baggage fees. Many planes have cargo holds that contain controlled climates with air pressure adjusted to a comfortable level. This being said, flying during particularly hot or cold months might not be recommended as temperatures on the tarmac waiting for the flight and in the plane might not be safe.

This separation is very nerve-wracking for some pet owners especially considering how loud planes are and how unusual the sensations you feel while in them are. No one knows your pet better than you do, so no one can let you know whether your pet will be comfortable with this or not. Many pet owners provide items of comfort in the crate like favourite toys, bedding or clothing that smells like the owner. You can also seek out natural, calming foods for your pet to help reduce feelings of anxiety he or she might have. Just be forewarned that if the trip is long, your pet might make a mess on whatever is in the crate.

It’s also a good idea to take the time to get your pet comfortable with the kennel before you travel. This is especially important for pets who don’t often experience crate environments. It’s also important to think about feeding times before flights. Sometimes you will be required to provide written certification of feeding time and empty bowls for staff to use to feed your pet should this be needed.

Pet Transportation Professionals

Given the importance of ensuring animals are safe and comfortable as they’re transported, there are businesses that devote themselves to the movement of pets across great distances. Professionals who handle international pet shipping are often animal lovers themselves who want to provide high-quality care to animals that are moving great distances. Seeking professional help can be particularly beneficial for people who are dealing with unusual circumstances or pets with special needs. Pregnant pets, pets with illnesses or unusual pets can all still be transported; they simply need a little extra care along the way.

Border Requirements

Every country has its own border crossing regulations for humans and for animals. This means that you want to do your research and ensure that your pet meets these regulations. This often requires a series of vaccinations; sometimes, there is a common disease or ailment that pets in one country get that is rare in another country. Rabies shots are a common requirement, as are ticks or tapeworm treatment. This might mean you need to get an updated shot or simply provide proof of vaccination at the border.

Sometimes there are standards about how long ago vaccinations need to have occurred. For example, a border might require that the rabies vaccine be given more than 21 days prior to travel.

Pet Passport Systems

Believe it or not, there are such things as pet passports. Typically referred to as pet travel schemes (PETS), there is a system which developed in the United Kingdom and has spread to many other nations, including America and members of the European Union. The process of getting a passport for your pet will involve taking your furry friend to a veterinarian that has been certified to provide passports.

Age Restrictions

Sometimes there are age restrictions for pets travelling across borders. It’s common to restrict travel for animals younger than four months. This being said, the rules vary drastically from one location to the next.

Quarantine Periods

Sometimes there are quarantine periods implemented at the airport when a pet arrives or is returning to a country. This can change up your travel plans, so be sure to research ahead of time how long you’re expected to stay in the city that the pet landed in. You might need to seek accommodation for yourself and your travel companions if the quarantine period is longer.

Culture Shock

Just like humans, pets can experience shock or discomfort when they suddenly find themselves in a new environment. Dogs maybe are used to commands in your first language but might not respond appropriately to commands from strangers who speak a foreign language. Pets are particularly sensitive to smells and sounds, and this can make cultural changes hard on them as suddenly the world is filled with new scents, foods, and wildlife. You can’t expect perfect behaviour immediately upon travelling, nor can you expect that your pet will be able to carry on with life as usual. They will want to stop and sniff more. Their sleeping habits might be altered as they want to ensure their new location is secure before they relax. Be patient with your pet and try not to rush them around too much when they’ve first arrived.

The above tips should help you better understand the process of transporting a pet internationally. Again, every pet is different, and this means you should always make decisions based on your own instincts and your veterinarian’s recommendations.



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