Taking your furry four-legged friend can be an amazing and fulfilling experience. Wherever you decide to go, going on adventures and travelling with your dog creates an amazing bond between you and your pup and memories that can last a lifetime.
Some dogs are OK with the idea of travelling as long as they’re in close, regular contact with their owners. However, not all dogs have such an easy time of it, with many experiencing some mild anxieties and stresses, particularly if you’re flying a long distance. Don’t worry – taking your dog abroad is made much easier and hassle-free if you prepare and plan accordingly. Try keeping your dog calm with familiar toys from home or using chamomile to ease anxious feelings.
Travel can be completely enriching for dogs and boost their mood, confidence and trust in you. Not only that, but the positive memories you can make will strengthen the bond that you have with each other if you can take part in activities that give you both fulfilment. If this is your first trip abroad together, make sure you take your camera to help you capture those precious moments in time, and make your trip even more special.
This short guide covers everything that you need to know when preparing for an international trip with your dog, giving you all the essential tips to ensure a trip that goes as well as possible.
Before jetting off on your global getaway, it’s vital to get your dog ready for the journey. There are a few essentials for a pet-friendly holiday that are good to know before you set foot on that plane. Ticking these off early will help make the rest of your trip preparation much easier.
Book Your Dog for Some Essential Checkups
Depending on where you’re travelling to, you may need to give your dog certain vaccinations or booster jabs before they enter specific countries. The EU Pet Travel Scheme is worth pursuing if you’re travelling somewhere within the European Union. Check the relevant requirements for entry and make an appointment with your vet to ensure full transparency.
Even if your dog’s vaccinations are all up-to-date, it can’t hurt to get a general wellness exam done. This will help to identify any issues with your pup that need treatment before you travel.
If your dog takes any medicine, make sure you have enough of it to last for the entirety of your trip. If your dog is prone to nausea and motion sickness, you may wish to find some additional meds so their journey isn’t hampered by feeling unwell.
Treat your dog with a spot-on flea and tick treatment a couple of days before you fly out. It’s probably unlikely to cause an issue at the border, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Giving your dog a nice bath, brush and groom before you travel just keeps their coat tangle-free and fresh. It can only do them good before they’re in transit for a while.
Get the Important Travel Documents Ready
In addition, make sure that your dog has a valid, up-to-date scannable microchip that unveils their name and owner’s details. Make sure that it’s registered and working.
Remember that you will also need to fill in some declaration forms upon your arrival in certain countries. Make sure you research whether this is needed ahead of your departing journey and complete any paperwork ahead of time if need be. You may also benefit by having your vet produce a printout of all relevant dog vaccinations and dates in case you’re asked about them at the border.
Select the Right Airline and Carrier
Your dog must be able to fit comfortably in an approved, authorised carrier that can be stowed securely underneath or beside you on your departing flight. Rules will, of course, vary from airline to airline, and your dog can often fly with you as your carry-on luggage without any major objections.
However, if the combined weight of your dog and the kennel, crate or carrier exceeds a certain amount, they may only be permitted as checked-in baggage or cargo. Thus, they may have to travel separately to you while on the flight, in the luggage hold. If you have, say, a Labrador retriever, this may be your only option when flying.
It’s wise to consult directly with your chosen airline about the logistics of your international pet travel requirements and see if any alterations can be made. However, when selecting the carrier that your dog will stay in during the flight, make sure they are comfortable with plenty of cushioned bases or blankets so they can stay warm and cosy. The carrier itself should ideally be strong, sturdy and escape-proof, with enough room for them to feel snug but not cramped. Make sure you consult with your airline about whether your carrier is sufficient.
Below you’ll find a few handy essentials to pack with you in your luggage for your trip:
- Collar, leash, harness and muzzle (if necessary)
- Healthy, nutritious dog food and treats
- Your dog’s favourite toys
- Compact food and water bowls
- Plastic bags for waste cleanup
- Familiar bedding and home comforts
- Medication and first-aid kit if need be
- Proof of health clearance and microchip paperwork
- Training pads if needed
Airport Travel Tips
The airport itself can be an overwhelming and highly stimulating environment for dogs that can make them feel stressed.
To ensure a smooth transition through the baggage drop, security, and boarding gates, bring them on small walks and practice drives with their carrier so they can get familiar with it. Give them multiple opportunities to relieve themselves before going through security to the secure gate area and bring enough sanitary products in case they have an accident. Request to board early with other passengers along with priority customers to prevent elongated wait times with them in the carrier.
Give them plenty of reassurance throughout your time together before you board so they aren’t as stressed before or during the flight, perhaps giving them their favourite toy or chew inside the carrier as a distraction.
When you land, take your dog for an outside stroll as soon as possible as they’ll likely need to go post-flight. Give them fresh water and some food too if they’ve been isolated for a couple of hours.
Enjoying Your Travels Together
Now that the trip prep is done, the fun begins!
Research dog parks, trails, beaches or other areas welcoming dogs so that you can give them some much-needed outdoor exercise. Again make sure that they stay hydrated and get plenty of rest and downtime; you don’t want your pup to be too exhausted for the duration of your trip.
Initially, take short outings as your dog acclimatises to the new environment. Even if you’re only abroad for a short time, it can be fulfilling to give your dog a quick run around in a secluded spot before venturing further afield. Make time for quality one-on-one bonding and play, and give them plenty of attention. If you make their experiences as ‘close-to-home’ as possible, they will adjust more quickly and feel less stressed in their new environment.
With some careful and considered planning before your trip, you and your dog can enjoy a memorable and rewarding experience with complete confidence. Navigating the small, temporary stresses of airports and planes is a small price to pay to achieve a broader, more enriching experience for you and your furry best friend. Safe travels!