6 Tips for Traveling Internationally with Your Dog

May 09, 2016

Jayla and her dogs in Sienna, Italy

Guest Blog by International Traveler and Dog Enthusiast, Jayla Rae Ardelean

I had an opportunity to move to Italy for ten months, but didn’t know the first thing about getting my two dachshunds over there to be with me. This, I believe, is a problem for many people who opt to travel with their dogs.

After listening to advice from a friend who was also able to move her dogs internationally—as well as doing countless hours of my own research—here is what I’ve gleaned about the process, so I can share it with international dog travelers all around:

Lessons Learned From International Travel With Dogs

1. Your vet/vet tech should conduct research on the health and safety requirements for the country you are traveling to. This will include necessary vaccines, other shots, microchips, and quarantine periods (if there are any). You’re in for about a two to three month-long ordeal, but think of it as an adventure! The timing of when your dog can get particular shots and when you can obtain a certificate of veterinary inspection (often from government office, such as the Department of Agriculture) is a major factor. You will need all of this paperwork to show to the airline and to representatives at your final destination.

2. Let’s say there’s not just one country, but multiple on your itinerary. Your dog needs a passport. Research regions thoroughly before hopping a plane to another country once you’re outside of the United States. For example, although the UK is currently a part of the European Union, it is not a part of the open borders Schengen area, and therefore has different requirements for your dog.

3. The most important distinction you need to know is that there are International Air Travel Association (IATA) guidelines and there are also guidelines specific to an airline. Although it is assumed that airlines follow IATA guidelines, that is not always the case. Choose a great airline and then compare both sets of guidelines to make sure they are complying with IATA. I found an airline that interpreted the IATA guidelines differently when it came to the number of dogs allowed in one kennel, and was almost not allowed to depart into Italy because of it.

4. Is your dog small enough to travel in the cabin below your seat, or are they big and heavy, thus needing to travel inside a kennel below the plane in cargo space? (Which, by the way, is pressure and temperature-controlled, so don’t worry!) I used this website for information and products because it was recommended to me, although I found the kennel size I needed there, and then found it cheaper and able to ship quicker on Amazon. You’ll need to know how many pieces of carry-on luggage and checked luggage the airline you have chosen allows; a dog kennel below the plane counts as one piece of checked luggage, and a dog kennel in the cabin with you counts as your main carry-on. Typically, it is cheaper to fly your dog in the cabin with you, but the size and weight of your dog is the deciding factor.

5. The time of year you are traveling is crucial. You may be hard-pressed to find an airline that will take a kenneled dog in the cargo hold between May-August because of high temperatures on the runway, but these restrictions do not apply when your dog flies below the seat in front of you.

6. Prepare to make a lot of phone calls to airlines/airports with your questions. Take the name of each person you speak with so you can refer to them later, in case there’s a problem.

Don’t forget your Release N Run Leash for airport convenience, and for when your dog climbs mountains alongside you during your travels!

Jayla Rae Ardelean is a crazy wiener dog lady with a ween team of two, currently living abroad. Follow Timmy and Autzen on Instagram @weenteamstrong

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