Whether they’re planning an extended vacation or a long-term move to another country, many travelers want to take their dogs along. Unfortunately, it’s often far more complicated than they bargained for. Taking your dog abroad requires research, planning, and attention to details that might not seem important to you, but will be to your host country.
Research The Laws In Your Host Country
Laws on bringing animals into the country vary widely around the globe. Some countries make it pretty easy, while some require pets to be quarantined, sometimes for months. And some don’t allow visitors to bring pets at all.
The information is usually pretty easy to find. In most cases, your best bet is to start on the government website for that country. That’s where you’ll find information on importing animals to Great Britain, for instance. Regulations for the United States are listed on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Decide How Your Dog Will Travel
All airlines have their own rules, and they’re often different from that of the country to which they’re flying.
The United States, for instance, doesn’t require health certificates for dogs entering the country, but most U.S. airlines do.
Availability is also restricted to certain types of planes and, for dogs that will be traveling in the cargo hold, to certain times of year (due to the risk of heat stroke). Some carriers allow small dogs to travel in the cabin, but they have to remain in their kennels.
Traveling by ship is common for some destinations. Currently, the only ship that will transport a dog between Europe and the U.S. is the Queen Mary 2, and it’s usually booked a year or more in advance. In Europe and other countries where ferries are common, check with the local carrier. There are many that will transport dogs, but you’ll want to make sure you have everything you need ahead of time. The same is true for trains.
Visit The Vet
Depending on your destination, you may need proof of vaccination and/or a health certificate. Many countries require that these be dated close to the day of travel, so that’s one thing you’ll need to find out from your host country. While you’re at the vet, you may want to ask about a sedative.
Some vets may be reluctant to prescribe a sedative for a dog that will be unsupervised in a cargo hold, but if your dog is unusually anxious and excitable, your vet may decide it’s worth the risk.
In all likelihood, your dog will need to travel in a sturdy kennel. Regulations vary by country and carrier, so do your homework to find out more about the kind of crate you need.
Make sure there’s enough room in the kennel for your dog to stand up and turn around.
You’ll also need to provide food and water in bowls that clip to the inside of the kennel. Line the crate with something that smells familiar: your dog’s bed, one of your old shirts, etc.
The scent will comfort your dog and help reduce his anxiety. It’s also a good idea to provide something to occupy his attention, but choose carefully.
Even moderate chewers can go a little crazy when they’re stressed, so you’ll need to make sure you don’t give your dog anything that could choke him or break into sharp splinters.
Traveling abroad can be stressful for both you and your dog, but it doesn’t have to be. By doing your own research, planning ahead, and paying attention to detail, you can make traveling abroad a rewarding experience for both of you.