Are you planning a great vacation and wondering how hard it would be to take your pet along for the ride? Depending where you are headed, it might not be that difficult. Planning ahead will make it easier for you to make the decision whether to take your pets or find them a sitter.
- Decide where you will be traveling. If you are traveling overseas, you will need to get in touch with the embassy or consulate for that country and find out the requirements for your particular pet. Some countries will not allow certain breeds of dogs to enter, some countries require treatment for ticks and other parasites prior to entry, most countries require proof of rabies vaccination, as well as protective rabies titer.
- Once you know what is needed for your pet, call your veterinarian and ask if they are eligible to perform the testing and paperwork required for certification to travel. Many countries require that the paperwork be completed by an "accredited" veterinarian, meaning one that has completed training to perform the required tasks. If your veterinarian is not accredited, they should be able to direct you to someone that does hold the certification.
- Your pet will need a physical examination and may need vaccinations or blood work performed to verify rabies titer protection. The veterinarian will fill out the required certificates of inspection. It may take up to 3 months to get results of blood tests and have rabies vaccination be acceptable. Do not wait until the last minute! (It once took me over 9 months to get 3 dogs okayed for import into Australia.)
- The health forms filled out by the inspecting veterinarian may need to be certified by the state USDA APHIS official veterinarian. You can send the certificates by overnight mail or you can take the paperwork in person. There will be a fee involved and you will need an appointment, so call ahead if taking the papers personally.
- Call the airline that will be shipping your pet. Some pets can travel in the cabin, others will be relegated to the cargo area. Be sure you understand the requirements for the kennel or carrier for your pet.
- Pets should be microchipped with an international microchip prior to travel. Most countries will require this for identification. Collars and tags are an option to use in addition to the microchip, but make sure that nothing can get hung up on the kennel or carrier.
- The decision to sedate your pet should be made on an individual basis. If the pet is traveling in the cargo hold of the plane the temperature will be colder than in the cabin. It is important that the pet be able to regulate his body temperature, so he should not be so sedated that his blood pressure is low. I recommend using natural products for anxiety, including a thundershirt, Homeopet's Travel Anxiety, or Botanical Animal's Safe Journey, if possible.
Have fun traveling with your pets by being prepared ahead of time. Try to keep their routine as close to normal as possible by taking the food they normally eat (if reasonable). Transitioning to a freeze dried food prior to travel can make it easier, as this is lighter to carry with you. Some countries are not going to have food that you normally would give your pet. If your pet is used to eating a home prepared diet, you may be able to find similar ingredients overseas. Make sure you have a good supply of any medications your pet will need. Discuss with your veterinarian any medications or supplements, like Rx Clay, that you might want to carry with you in case your pet develops an upset bowel from travel anxiety.
Remember that you will need paperwork to bring your pet back into the United States after you have traveled abroad. Make sure you have researched ahead of time what you will need and how to get it. Have fun traveling!
Personally, I take my pets when they can travel with me easily, but they stay home with my fantastic pet sitter when I travel abroad. If I were moving overseas, it would make sense to take them. I can't imagine the costs involved in moving 9 dogs, 4 cats, and 4 horses, so I think it's safe to say I'll be staying in the U.S.!