While a holiday provides excitement and the chance to relax and unwind for us, it can be a daunting and stressful time for your pets. As Johnny Depp’s latest international pet scandal has shown, traveling with your pets without preparing properly can lead to serious trouble. Avoid the wrath of immigration and enjoy your trip instead with these vital tips from Jessica Varley at Petcircle.
Contact your local vet once you decide to take your pet traveling. They will have the most accurate information regarding vaccines. Depending on your destination you may need blood tests dating to over 6 months prior to departure for rabies vaccinations. However if your pet is not a cat or dog it may fall under a completely different set of rules, for example a baby lizard will not need a rabies vaccination. While your individual circumstances will dictate your vaccine needs, just remember to investigate and be informed.
Tip – Contact the foreign office of the country you are planning to visit for more information regarding animal travel rules.
Customs Paper Work
If you’re traveling overseas then dealing with the paperwork at customs can be a daunting experience. The most important thing to remember is that it does take time. The process of filling out paperwork at your destination, paying customs fees and waiting for documents to be processed takes time but it is all in the best interests of your pet and the safety of the country you’re visiting so in these instances, patience is a virtue.
If it all seems too daunting there are companies like Pet Flyers who specialise in these matters and can prepare import permits on your behalf. They can also book the most direct flights to minimise your pet’s time in transit and clear customs on your behalf. Whether you choose to tackle customs on your own or with help, it is important to remember that each country may have different regulations to be followed, as may each airline. Start investigating your destination early to ensure a smooth start to your travels.
If you’re traveling by air, establish how your pet will be transported. Your pet may be on board as your personal carry on, checked in as baggage or shipped as a cargo item. Generally, only petite dogs and cats are allowed in the cabin as carry on. In these cases you will be allowed to stow them under your seat. For larger animals travelling in checked baggage or cargo they must be inside strong containers that allow ample and natural movement. For those who may find the thought of this stressful, the pressurized cargo area is quiet in comparison to the cabin and may actually be more relaxing for your furry friends.
Tip – If you are curious about the regulations for your particular pet the International Air Transport Association offers substantial information on the shipping of pets.
Pet Friendly Treats
The most important treat to bring along is water, as a dog needs water every couple of hours, especially if he is panting due to nerves and dehydration. While individual pet treats will depend on your little ball of fur, using peanut butter cups from hotel breakfast bars can make a great reward for your dog. This trick becomes even more useful if you’re using stress relieving medication during your travels. A pill coated in peanut butter is far more appealing than one without.
How to Relieve Pet Anxiety
The simple cause behind many cases of dog anxiety, especially in younger dogs, stems from the fact that they have little experience riding in transit and are unfamiliar with what is happening to them. On top of this they may associate plane, or especially car journeys, with bad memories of visiting the vet. The symptoms of dog anxiety can be mild to severe and may cause panting, pacing, trembling, hyper-arousal, vomiting and in some cases uncontrollable defecation.
A great tip for dealing with anxiety is to offer only water in the 12 hours preceding travel. This empty stomach will lower the chances of the dog soiling itself or becoming travel sick while on the move. It is not wise to try sedation as this will only make it harder for your pet to brace itself if the vehicle you are travelling in comes to a quick stop. A simple idea is to include your pet’s favourite toy or a piece of clothing that holds your scent to comfort and reassure them with a relaxing memory.
Tip – If your trip involves the family car then familiarise your pet with the vehicle by having them spend time inside. Reward them with their favourite treat and start with small time frames. This will help you build up towards an eventual relaxed attitude to travel.
Finding Pet Friendly Accommodation
Getting your pet from point A to B may seem like the hardest part but sourcing pet friendly accommodation can also be difficult. If you’re looking for a great value holiday then caravan parks can offer a fantastic pet friendly environment with ample space for your dog to explore. Even a step up in price won’t matter with Airbnb providing a pet friendly search option.
Top Things to Pack
Packing the right things for your pet can make the difference between a great trip and a stressful one. Here are the most important things to take with you.
- ID for your pet. Make sure they have a collar with the contact details of where you are staying if they get lost.
- Seat covers. For your pet’s convenience and for the sake of your car, bring an old towel or even the bedding of your pet for them to ride on.
- Portable litter boxes. This is especially handy if your cat is riding along, no fuss and more importantly no mess.
- Toys. Bringing along a few favourite toys is a great way to relax your pet and help them pass the time.
- A first aid kit. Hopefully you won’t need it but a first aid kit with some gauze, a thermometer, ice pack, antibacterial spray and so on, will at least put your mind at ease.
- Pet Carriers are especially important if you’re bringing a smaller pet like a turtle or mouse, the carrier keeps them safe and keeps you in control.
Whether you’re hitting the open road with your pet or taking to the skies, using these tips will let you travel with confidence knowing you’ve done everything to ensure your pet’s safety and your own compliance. If dogs really are a man’s best friend then there’s no reason to leave them, or any pet behind. Bon Voyage!