Flying Internationally with a Dog

Travelling internationally with a dog can be a great adventure, but it takes a lot of preparation and is pretty expensive. Flying Bosco from Halifax (YHZ) to London (LHR) cost over $3000 CAD! At least there’s no quarantine period if you’re coming from a listed rabies controlled country.

The 3 main things to do are:

1. GET A PET TRANSPORT COMPANY.

  • You can get varying levels of service, but in general they do the flight booking stuff and take care of transporting the dog onto the plane from where you drop them off (dogs have to go as cargo [even small ones into the UK, but not everywhere] and need an air waybill and a bunch of customs stuff).
  • Pet transport companies are required if you’re flying into Heathrow (though not necessarily everywhere else, but they certainly will help make sure everything goes smoothly).
  • You probably want one from the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association. Just email and ask for a quote and/or some options. We used PetsGo and they were really helpful and nice!

2. GET GOING ON THE VET STUFF.

  • You’ll want to have your vet visits sorted out and booked at least a month in advance.
  • Microchips are required and if you’re coming from North America, get ready for an extra rabies shot because Europe doesn’t consider anything that happened before a microchip was implanted to be valid.
  • In North America, it’s common to wait until neutering/spaying time to do the implant since it’s painful, so Bosco, like many others, had to get a second rabies vaccine. This valid rabies vaccine must be done at least 21 days before they fly.
  • Then, immediately before they fly (within either 5 or 10 days, depending where you’re going), you need to get a tapeworm treatment, a full checkup and health certificate forms filled out by your vet that you then have to take to a fancy national vet (in Canada it’s a Canada Food Inspection Agency vet) to finish it up and officially stamp it.
  • If you’re flying into the EU, the health certificate you’ll need is probably the Annex IV. The Canadian government has a helpful page about entering the EU with links to the form and instructions. The City of London also has a great pet travel site. You can download the Annex IV form in any of the EU language combos on the EUR-Lex site.

3. GET THE TRAVEL CRATE PREPPED:

  • Nobody wants their dog to be stressed out while travelling, and there are strict regulations on crate construction and size, so it’s a good idea to get one early.
  • Most airlines use the International Air Transport Association guidelines, but be sure that either you or your pet transport agent double check your airline’s requirements for anything extra.
  • At Heathrow, most North American pets were arriving in nice plastic crates (like the ones on this helpful list), whereas pets from the EU were usually in plywood boxes with holes in the side. Bosco’s is a GRREAT CHOICE carrier from Petsmart.
  • Don’t forget accessories like a crate pad and clip-on water/food bowls if your crate doesn’t come with them.
  • Set it up, and start getting your dog used to it by putting treats in there and playing with them in it.
  • Here’s how Bosco’s looks:

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Come on in here Bosco, look how fun it is!

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Note that his head has at least the 2-4 inches required from the ceiling

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A food and water bowl are attached to the inside of the door (even though they generally are only used in emergencies) and his travel documents, a full days worth of food, and a spare leash and collar are in baggies taped to the top
 

Here we are dropping him off at the Air Canada Cargo building near Halifax International Airport, a whopping 4 hours early as required. They inspect the crate, weigh it, and we do a bunch of paperwork.
They add the live animal sticker and security screening tape once the paperwork is all sorted out
After a last quick walk, its a hug farewell and he gets zip tied into the crate with a blanket and crate pad on the bottom, no collar for safety, and his non-chokey Kong and Nylabone for entertainment. Note that sedating pets is no longer recommended as it can slow breathing and drop body temperature. See you on the other side buddy!

A HEADS UP ABOUT MEETING EURO-DOGS :

At least in Italy and France, neutering/spaying is almost unheard of and there’s a real machismo attitude about it. As a result, many dogs are much more aggressive than you’d see in Canada and the US. The first thing other people with dogs usually ask is “masculine or feminine?” because they want to avoid fights/pregnancies.

If your dog is friendly and playful like Bosco, just be a bit extra vigilant on the approach – we were surprised the first few times he was snapped at! But he figured out the local greeting etiquette pretty quickly so all’s well now. (I wish I could say the same for myself and Jeff, but we’re still pretty awkward with all the double kissing…)

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