Domestic and International Travel with your Pet
Everyone needs a vacation from time to time, including our beloved furry companions! While vacationing with your pet can be extremely fun and rewarding, the preparation involved doesn’t always make it easy. With so many countries to select from that have specific guidelines and regulations, planning your trip can quickly turn into a stressful and exasperating experience. Many of the tropical islands that one may consider visiting require multiple blood tests and several vaccines. Others may simply require a microchip, a current rabies vaccine and USDA certified health certificate. Below is a list of some great vacation destinations that require minimal preparation:
- St. Barth’s or St. Maarten
- Costa Rica
- Puerto Rico
Other countries, specifically islands that are considered “rabies free” like Australia, Japan and even our own state of Hawaii, may prove to be more challenging and require meticulous organization, time and planning.
The staff at Heart of Chelsea Animal hospital is here to help facilitate this process, but keep in mind that each country has their own unique set of rules. We always recommend contacting the appropriate consulate for the most up to date travel requirements, as they are subject to change without notice. You should always check the regulations posted by the USDA in the early stages of your planning. If you begin to find the process overwhelming, don’t stress out. There are several pet travel companies that specialize in this field and will manage every single aspect for you for a nominal fee.
Pets that travel domestically are not necessarily exempt from strict rules. Most US states require, at the minimum, proof of a valid rabies vaccine. In addition, several domestic airlines may require a health certificate, certificate of acclimation or have specific guidelines regarding acceptable kennels. For example, American Airlines requires a vet health check within 10 days of travel and all kennel doors to be constructed of cast metal. Plastic doors are unacceptable. The kennel must also be free of wheels and clearly labeled with the words “Live Animal” on the top and sides. We suggest calling your airline or visiting their website to confirm their policies regarding the transport of animals.
To sedate or not to sedate?
While ideally we would prefer not to sedate your pet, we understand that some animals may benefit from a light sedative. In general, it is not recommended to give your pet a sedative if they are:
- Older in age (over 7 years)
- Brachycephallic or “snub nosed” breeds (e.g. Pug, Pekingese, Himalayan etc.)
- Traveling in cargo
If your pet becomes anxious or is prone to motion sickness, there are several prescription, over the counter and holistic options available. Consult your veterinarian to determine which type and strength is appropriate for your pet.
Planning a vacation for your family takes time and research, but as everyone knows, it is well worth the effort! Remember that foreign consulates and the USDA are not trying to complicate your life or prevent you from bringing your beloved companion along. They are simply trying to prevent exposure to potentially life threatening diseases that, in some cases, have been eradicated from their country for decades. If you are considering a trip with your pet, plan well in advance (when possible), do your research, and know that we’re here to help!