Planning to go on holidays and take your pet with you? If you are looking to know how you can make the journey as pleasant as possible in such a stressful environment for then our info below in regards to what you should know if you are traveling with pets may be useful.

Tips when flying with a dog

The first thing you should note is that you should research sufficiently about your country of destination before booking your flight. Different countries, different rules.

Inform yourself ahead of time about entry requirements. Also, make sure you are aware of and have all the necessary documentation ready for your pet. Your veterinarian should enter all the important information such as appearance, race, date of birth, proof of vaccinations, etc. Also, it would not hurt to ask your vet to provide you an additional letter about the health of your dog. On top of this, make sure your pet has a chip as most countries require this.

Part of the research process prior to booking is also about checking quarantine regulations. Sometimes these regulations can be several weeks of stay. There are countries such as Malta, Ireland, Finland or the United Kingdom, that have very strict entry requirements for animals generally including dogs. Officials may examine your pet, including for things such as tapeworms, and in the case of an incident, you may not even be able to board the plane or upon arrival will be sent back directly.

Hence, with the right know-how and information, you’ll avoid creating additional stress for your dog by making sure they too are ready to fly and enter the country you plan on visiting.

Airline requirements when traveling with dogs

Prior to actually booking your ticket, you should also do a check in regards to the requirements set out by the airline for your specific flight. The best way to inform yourself is to first check the help section of the respective airline. Every airline will publish this information about animal carriage in its FAQ/help area on their website. Next, call customer service and check with them specifically if your dog (pet) is allowed to fly with you on the chosen flight. In other words, get a confirmation from the airlines for all legs of your journey.

Generally, we would recommend direct flights which means less stress for your dog/pet. Also, each airline specifies what types of animals can fly and where. For example, depending on their size and weight Lufthansa allows dogs, cats, and rabbits on board. Animals need to be transported in a container that fits under the seat. Otherwise, they need to travel in the hold. The amount of pets in the hold or that can be transported is also limited. In other words, just be aware of the variety of factors that go into transporting an animal.

There is an exception to assistant dogs as they have special regulations.

Other airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair do not even allow animal transport (except for special assistant dogs and only on certain routed)!

Fighting breeds are classified differently

Races and breeds that are considered fighting dogs may typically only be transported in special cages within the hold or are often completely excluded from being transported by traditional airlines. You will need to find the service of special animals transporters. Often what plays a larger role here are the age and the actual breed of the dog. Again, not only checking the airline requirements, but also the country regulations is important because for instance in Germany, certain breeds are completely forbidden to be imported.

An exception: Blunt Nosed Pets

Cats and dogs that are breed with stub noses must follow special instructions as they typically have narrowed airways. Overall, it is not recommended to fly with these types of breeds.

Pet-friendly airports

Many hotels and airports are beginning to adapt to the ever-increasing amount of furry passengers, ensuring that they focus on the welfare of traveling animals. Often, in comparison to previous decades, pets are now pampered, not just tolerated. Airports will often have areas for animals to relieve themselves, or even play areas to run around in while waiting to board. For example, in New York, you’ll find Noah’s Ark at the airport which is a 16,000m² facility that welcomes all kinds of animals. They have pools and hair salons, but also quarantine stations for horses, cows, and birds. This is also true across the globe. In places like Zurich or Frankfurt, the trained staff looks after the animals. There are soundproof areas that are air-conditioned, and animal caretakers provide their two-legged owners’ information on regulations, etc. Denver airport even has a spa area prior to departure.

Pet-friendly hotels

Another key aspect of traveling with your furry friend is to keep in mind where you will be staying. If you are staying with family, friends or your own place then skip this paragraph and head on to the next section. If you plan on staying at an Airbnb or a hotel, make sure to inquire ahead of time whether or not pets are allowed. Look at the website and/or often search engines such as myCiity will display whether or not a hotel is pet-friendly. Note that pets are typically not free and an additional surcharge will be added to your stay.

The checklist

Regardless of how you are traveling, ultimately you are the person, as the owner, that is responsible for the wellbeing of your animal. There have been cases of animals fleeing, severe trauma, or even dying. This can be caused by a variety of factors, however, always know that flying is extremely stressful for animals. Hence, making the journey as safe and comfortable as possible will takeaways a piece of that. Below is our final checklist to consider should you think of flying with your pet.

  1. Check with your vet: Make sure your vet has signed off on your pet traveling and that you have all documentation. If your animal is prone to panic or is nervous you may want medication to relax the animal while traveling.
  2. Planes are evil: This is probably what your furry pet is thinking when they get close to an airport. Prior to going on vacation clarify whether or not you can leave your dog/cat, etc with family or friends or a residence for animals. The ever-growing selection of dog (animal) hotels around the world is for one better for your pet, often because they are spoiled as if on vacation themselves. If you must take them with you make sure to;
    • Check the airline regulations
    • Check that your animal has all necessary documentation and passport
    • Check the country entry requirements for your destination
  3. Identification tag: Make sure that your pet has a collar with identification on it including name, phone number, perhaps even address.
  4. Animal container: Make sure to have similar details (address, phone, name, etc) on the box of the transport container. Make sure the arrows are pointing properly and which direction the box should be placed (“This way up”). It’s not always a given when people are working fast. Also, make sure to note “LIVE ANIMAL” on the container. At the airport make sure that everything is labeled correctly and all the luggage tags correspond to your destination.
  5. Direct flights: If possible, only book direct flights, otherwise if you have a layover, inform yourself of the luggage conditions. In other words, will you need to pick up your animal and check it in again?
  6. Prior to boarding: Make sure your pet drinks water and does their business prior to boarding.
  7. Enjoy the trip.

While traveling with your pet can be fun, it is also very stressful for both you as the owner and for your pet. Thinking about all the things that need to be done for your furry friend can cause some headaches, however, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Our only point of caution is that you be prepared well in advance. Check with embassies if you cannot find information online, make sure you avoid traveling to hot destinations in the summertime, get to the airport early to go through the check-in procedure, and a variety of other things.

Nonetheless, in the end, upon arrival to your destination, all that you can do once receiving your pet is to enjoy the experience!

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