International Living & Travel With Pets

Tips for Expats Airline Travel Abroad With Their Dogs or Cats

Most simply say goodbye to Buddy or Tabby. Some even choose not to accept that great job or adventure overseas.

At least one carrier, though, has learned how to make a profit with owners of small dogs. Dr. Berge Yacoub, a re-knowned veterinarian in Cairo, Egypt, tells his clients, “Lufthansa is the best. They take very good care of your pets. Also, they were the first airline to let small dogs ride in the cabin with their owners.”

Smaller Dogs and Cats Ride in the Cabin With Their Owners

Lufthansa and members of their Star Alliance (United Air Lines is one member) permit pets in small carriers, with a gross weight not exceeding 20 Lbs (8 Kg), to ride in the cabin with their owner provided the

  • pet has a reservation (arrange for this when booking a flight)
  • pet is well-behaved
  • owner takes full responsibility
  • pet has a current rabies vaccination & health certificate
  • pet has a computer chip or, in some cases, a tattoo
  • owner pays the fee determined according to destination and
  • pet stays within carrier and the carrier will fit under the seat in front of the pet’s owner

If the pet with carrier is more than 20 lbs the pet will be transported in the cargo section dedicated for animals.

Whether taken in the cabin or in the cargo section, the cost remains the same. Traveling from the US to North Africa recently cost about $200. To other African countries the charge was $255, for example.

Quarantines, Health Certificates, Vaccinations, Computer Chips

When the pet travels with the owner and has the required vaccinations, health certificates and the computer chip, there is no quarantine.

Many stateside vets seem to be confused the first time someone approaches them regarding international pet travel. They often will be familiar only with transport regulations that seem to be more applicable for the individual who is sending an animal to someone, instead of the traveler who will accompany his or her best friend.

Therefore, it is common that the vet or technician will be wrongly oriented. No panic. Simply ask that they phone the state health department and explain precisely what is going on. In some states, such as North Dakota, it will be necessary that the health certificate be stamped by a state health official, then mailed back to the examining doctor. In other states, such as Oregon, there ordinarily is no such practice. Interview with Lake Region Veterinary Service Dr. Nathan Zieman, Devil’s Lake, ND July 14, 2009.

Generally, however, the pet will be required to have, in addition to proof of rabies vaccination and the health certificate, a computer chip. This machine-readable probe is inserted just beneath the animal’s skin by a vet using a hypodermic needle. When the serialized chip is purchased, it comes with several self-adhesive numbered strips. Following each health check-up, the vet will affix one of these stickers at the appropriate spot on the health certificate and the pet’s health record pouch. [See illustration]

The Health Certificate needs to be dated within the 10 to 14 days (or less) preceding the flight. This requirement applies whether leaving from or returning to America.

Food Water & Heat Exhaustion or Environmental Protection

Except in hot weather there is usually no need provide water for the trip unless traveling in the luggage or cargo area. Even then, Dr. Yacoub claims, “Dogs and cats do better without food and water. They can easily go for 24 hours with neither. Especially regarding food, because they can get motion sickness when flying if they have eaten.”

Consult the airline regarding cold weather transport if the pet is going to travel in other than the cabin.

Rarely, a pet might require a calming sedative. Administer these directly or mixed in food only when necessary, because many dogs will become fearful and nervous due to the effects of the medication.

Planning Preparation & Organization Provide Adventures for Pet Owners & Their Best Friends

The 21st Century is wide open for vagabonds who wish to travel overseas accompanied by their loved pets, whether for work or play. The minimal effort and moderate cost in getting vaccinations, health certificates, chips or tattoos and an acceptable carrier, plus finding a travel agent and a willing airline will pay big dividends.

Many people might agree with Dr Yacoub, “I cannot understand how anyone can think to travel while leaving behind the one who loves them unconditionally.”



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