with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Traveling With Pets Overseas

Dahni the blind traveling cat in his traveling carrier, photograph copyright Lorelle VanFossenWe’ve traveled extensively by car, trailer, motor home, and airplane with our pets. Dahni, our eye-less wonder traveling cat, traveled with us on at least 12 airplanes visiting six countries. So we have a little experience with transporting animals on airplanes as well as across borders.

Each country has their own requirements, though the creation of the EU (ECC) has made transporting pets around Europe much, much easier, with one requirement for most all countries within the EU. Some countries are fairly lax, while others are very strict. Check with your destination countries laws and embassies to determine those specifics.

The process of transporting a pet between countries is two-fold. You have the laws of the country you are leaving (export) and the laws of the country to which you are traveling (import). Traveling with your pets is different from importing and exporting animals for commercial purposes, and the law treats them differently. I’ll only address domestic pets traveling with their owners. Different procedures and requirements are necessary for pets traveling without their owners, which may include hiring a professional animal moving service, an often expensive process with much more paperwork and regulation.

At a minimum, most countries require the following:

  1. Pets must accompany the owners during the trip (not shipped separately) in the cargo or passenger compartment. The owner must claim the pet at both ends of the trip.
  2. Pets are considered dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, and rodents which are not considered “wildlife”. Check with the country regulations for what determines a “pet”.
  3. Travel with up to two pets is permitted and exempt from a Veterinary Import Permit (or equivalent). More than two may be considered as commercial import or export.
  4. Pets must have a current Veterinary Health Certificate issued by a local or government veterinary of the exporting country within 7 to 15 days of travel, encompassing the travel days. It must state that the animals have been examined and found to be “healthy and free from infectious diseases”, and that all applicable vaccinations are up to date. Sometimes a declaration is required from the owner stating that the animal has been in his or her possession for at least the past 90 days, dependent upon the exporting and importing country laws. Many countries use the United States Interstate and International Certificate of Health examination for Small Animals form for their own form, and this form applies for all domestic pets leaving the United States for a foreign county.
  5. At a minimum, pets are required to be vaccinated against rabies not more than a year and not less than a month prior to the travel date. Others vaccinations and health inspections may be required including distemper, Carre Disease, Leptospirosis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza, Panleucoopenia Feline, Calicivirosis, Rinotraqueitis, or Leukemia Feline.
  6. At the very least, the certificate requires the following:
    • Rabies vaccination and certification by a authorized government veterinarian from the country of origin.
    • Health certificate giving: sex, age, color, breed, and date of inoculation(s).
    • Letter or statement on the certificate that the animal is in good health and free of rabies, and that the animal has lived in an area free free of rabies for six months.
    • A statement that the animal has had a blood test that it is free of leptospirosis or other contagious diseases for the past month.
    • A statement that the pet is 3 months or older before the date of travel.
  7. Quarantines are rarely used any more, though check thoroughly before traveling with your pet. Quarantine times range from 48 hours to 6 months, if the country chooses to enforce them.
  8. Understand that animals without proper paperwork and health certificates will be returned (often without the owner or the owner will be refused entry along with their pet) to their country of origin or destroyed. If there is no one to claim the pet in the return county, the officials there may choose to destroy the animal, though arrangements may be made for kenneling until you arrive, if such services are available. There are often few ways or time enough to appeal such a decision. So research thoroughly, and get all the paperwork in order.
  9. Many countries now require identification microchip implants in the animals. Others still permit what is classified as “clearly identifiable tattoos” as an alternative, though there are no standards as to location or what that means. Unfortunately, different countries and vets use different microchip technology and detection machines with no universal system or standards either.

    I’ve had three microchips embedded in one cat because each could not be read by the different countries. However, proof that a microchip is installed is all that is required, not if the microchip can be detected by the departing or arriving customs offices or vets. If you are worried, check with your exporting and importing countries to find out if they have specific brand and type requirements for microchips.

The Airline Traveling Process and Experience with Your Pets

The following is the step-by-step instructions and tasks required for traveling with your pet.

  1. Check Before Buying Your Ticket on the Rules and Regulations for Traveling With Your Pet with the Airline: Each airline has different rules, prices, and restrictions on traveling with you pet. Make sure before you buy your ticket on what those are. Some airlines also restrict how many pets can be on a specific flight, so you may have to schedule your flight around their schedule and requirements. Some restrict which types and sizes of animals you may travel with. Some airlines will not allow some breeds of dogs on airplanes, as an example, while others will. Some will not allow snakes or “biting” or carnivorous animals, even if you can prove they will do no harm.

    Make sure you make all the arrangements with them and find out what their requirements are before you book your flight and proceed with the paperwork on the animal.

    Not all airlines honor your pet ticket across the various airlines on a single flight. Traveling from overseas back the US, we’ve often started with one airline, switched to another in Europe, and then flew from there on another airline, only to be transfered to another airline for the last leg of the flight. In several instances, we’ve been stopped while transferring planes and told to pay again for transporting the cat. I have argued with them that if I pay one ticket price for the entire flight, and the money is distributed by that airline to the other cooperating airlines, then why should a pet ticket be treated differently? This works sometimes, but not always.

    Since not every airline honors the first pet ticket you purchased as “good for the full length of the entire flight”, make sure that each airline you travel with knows you are traveling with a pet and that you abide by each airlines’ rules. Check first and check thoroughly.

  2. Get all the Paperwork and Research Done in Advance: Your vet maybe unaccustomed to national and international health certificates and travel regulations for your pet. Make sure you print out the certificates and paperwork they need, with resource information so they can verify this information themselves. Bring it all to the vet’s office with the pets and all their records at most 4 days before you travel.

    Some countries require the health certificate to be signed and stamped by an official representative of the government, often called the State Veterinarian. Getting such an official document may require ordering online, processing it through the mail, or traveling to the office for an in-person inspection of the animal before the certificate is approved and signed. Make time in your schedule if this is a requirement in the country you reside. Call in advance for an appointment and for information to make sure this is what you are required to do to get the international health certificate.

  3. Make Your Vet Appointment 6 Weeks and Then 4 Days Before You Travel: Most countries require rabies vaccinations at least 30 days to 60 days before the travel date. Make sure you have the pet’s vaccinations updated within that time period and all paperwork and records brought up-to-date and ready for the next step.

    While most countries require 7-15 days before the travel date to get the international health certificate, four days or less before your travel date, bring the pet in for another check and to complete the paperwork, letter, and certificate from the vet. This gives you some time leeway if there is a last minute change in your flight, or if you have delays between the legs of your trip, as the health certificate’s valid time must include the days of flight and the arrival date.

  4. Arrive 2-5 Hours in Advance at the Airport: Depending upon the length of your flight and the airline requirements, plan on arriving 2-5 hours before your flight.

    Some airlines require you to check in at the check-in counter and then will escort you to another office within the airport for the animal to be checked, weighed in its carrier, and other paperwork filled out and fees paid. It may also mean another trip across the airport to the customs agents for inspection and more fees to be paid. We’ve been in countries where the ticket office was on one side of the airport, the weighing and paperwork was filled in on the other side of the airport, then payment had to be made in another office elsewhere in the airport, and then we had to return with the receipt and all documentation to the ticket office before they would give us our tickets and take our luggage. While some airlines make this easy, others make it miserable, so the process of getting your pet on the flight can take some time.

    The fees associated with the airline ticket include a base fee for the animal plus the weight per kilo of the pet in its carrier, and customs and export fees for the exporting, and possibly the importing, country(s). The customs fees may be paid to the airline which pays the government, or you have to pay the government directly.

    Make sure you take everything out of the carrier except the animal before you weigh it. Especially all food and water. Do this before you enter the office or ticket counter, and put it in your carry-on. The price per kilo (and gram) can add up very fast, so keep the carrier’s weight at a minimum so you are paying for the animal as much as possible. The animal is typically weighed once, so you can put their food and goodies back in the bag after you finish with ticketing and inspections.

  5. Bring Cash and Credit Cards: No matter how much you research and ask all the right questions, it seems that somewhere along the line you will be asked to hand over more money for transporting your pet on an airplane. Bring extra money, just in case.

    You may be required to pay extra for pet weight, ticketing, or custom fees. Not all airlines and custom’s offices in all countries accept credit cards. All accept US money. Depending upon where we are taking our pets, we carry from USD $200 – $500 to make sure our cats get through the surprise financial hand-outs.

    As mentioned, we’ve had tickets for us and the cat paid for the entire flight, but midway through, we found we had to pay another ticket for the cat as that airline didn’t honor the ticket from the airline we’d just disembarked from 15 minutes ago. Be prepared with extra cash as they may not allow you on the next flight without paying. You can try to get reimbursed later, though it’s doubtful, but do try and complain loudly and in writing at the end of your flight.

    And if you cannot pay the customs fees in your destination country, you will not be allowed into the country.

  6. Get Tickets for Both You and the Pet: Do not forget to get tickets for both you and your pet, as well as the receipt of payment. Carry all certifications and health records with you as you pass through the airport, security, baggage claim, and disembarkation gates, just in case. You will be asked for verification on the ticket and payment of all fees for the pet.
  7. Airport Security: As you pass through airport security, you will need to inform the security agents that you are traveling with a pet. You will be required to remove the pet from the carrier and put the carrier through the x-ray machines. The pet will then need to be carried or walked through the security devices and possibly inspected.

    Keep the animal on the leash, whether you are carrying or walking it. The security agents typically will physically inspect the pet, but do not let go of the leash unless you are confident in the agent’s ability to restrain the animal if it becomes distressed.

    If the pet will become distressed or struggle if a stranger touches or approaches, be sure and warn the security agent before they approach. They may ask you to hold the animal while they inspect it, or wear padding clothing to protect themselves, depending upon their familiarity with traveling pets and the rules for that airport or security service.

    However they handle the security inspection of your pet, this is a risky time as the animal is out of the carrier and may see an escape and take it. Be prepared for any sudden movement or unexpected response from the animal in the busy security check point. I will often wrap the leash securely around my wrist and hook a finger into the harness at all times while handling the cat, just to make sure the cat and I stay attached.

    You may also be questioned about the animal and its health, as well as how long you have owned the animal and if the animal has ever been out of your sight. This is often a difficult question to answer, since we rarely keep tabs on our animals that closely. Be honest in your answer. They aren’t looking for an answer as much as they are studying the sound of your voice and emotional state as they interrogate you.

    When you return the pet to its carrier after the security check, make sure that all latches and zippers are tightly closed and secure and that all your carry-ons are with you. Double check that your pet is in the container before you move away from security.

  8. Check-in Again at the Gate and Confronting the Carry-On Battle: If the same people who checked you in originally are working the departure gate, you don’t have to check in again, but if they are different, make sure to check in and advise them that you are traveling with a pet.

    This bypasses the general confrontation about your carry-on luggage as you attempt to board the plane too much carry-on luggage, with a hundred tired travelers waiting in line behind. It also will typically gain you permission to board during the first boarding call in order to get you and your pet situated on the plane before the crowd comes in.

    Luggage airline tagsFood, water, favorite things, diapers, plastic bags, potty utensils, and the pet is a lot to carry onto a plane. Some airlines understand that you require a small bag for the pet’s things in addition to the pet and your own personal carry-ons, others don’t. On one flight, we made it through two legs of a four leg overseas flight only to be confronted with an flight check-in crew who would not allow the extra carry-on for the cat. I was told that the cat’s carrier represented my main carry-on. I had to check my laptop case, much to my distress, and then was told on the last leg of the flight that this wasn’t true. I wish someone would get their rules straight.

    Avoid this by traveling as light as possible in advance. Many pet carrier bags, like the Sherpa, feature pockets or attachable small bags for carrying the basic requirements for the pet in a consolidated manner. Even if they don’t, make sure you restrict your carry-ons to one small purse and a bag. Put as much as you can in your regular luggage and carry as little as possible onto the plane.

  9. Do Not Allow Your Pet Out of the Carrier Inside of the Airport or Airplane: As a general rule, unless instructed by an airline or security official, do not remove the animal from its carrier while in the airport or airplane. While the animal must go to the bathroom, do so in as much privacy and enclosed environment as possible. Do not allow the animal to out, even on a leash, while waiting for the plane as this can upset fellow passengers, and runs a risk of escape. This applies to all pets, including poodles and other tiny, toy, and friendly dogs.

    I don’t care how used they are to traveling, or how friendly and relaxed they are, it only takes one or two incidences of trauma before all pet-loving travelers are penalized. Due to a few recent isolated incidents of pets escaping on airplanes, in airports, and doing damage during flights recently, the cost of traveling with your pet has tripled on some airlines, and the restrictions, paperwork and hassles have increased.

    Stay low-key and invisible as much as possible when traveling with your pet. It helps fellow traveling pet owners and fellow passengers a lot.

  10. On The Flight Pet Handling: The ticket office usually gives your seat number to the air crew, identifying you as carrying a pet. It helps to identify yourself and your pet to the flight crew as you board, but also be prepared to be questioned. Avoid changing seats and let them know if you do.

    Before sitting down, check to make sure that there is adequate space under the seat in front of you for your pet’s bag. You are not permitted to sit in an emergency row, nor in the front seats of a plane’s section as there is no seat in front of you for stowing the pet carrier. If there is inadequate space, check with the flight crew before switching or changing seats.

    During the flight, keep the animal in its carrier. Pay attention to it by quietly talking to it or petting it, while ensuring it stays inside of the carrier. Avoid strangers handling or communicating with the pet as this brings attention to the animal in the cabin and may upset the pet, no matter how gregarious it is.

    If your carrier bag permits it, feed and water the animal with the bag remaining under the seat in front of you. If it doesn’t, or you need to help the animal go to the bathroom, then quietly pull out the bag with the animal inside and go to the restroom. Do not leave the bag behind and only carry the pet. Make sure the bathroom door is closed and secured before allowing the pet out of the bag.

    Do not expect to “walk” your pet or give them exercise during the flight. Keep the pet in the bag and keep the pet quiet as much as possible.

  11. Arrival with Your Pet: Depending upon your arriving airport, security and customs procedures, keep the pet inside the carrier until you are out of the airport and maintain a low profile.

    If the country requires a customs inspection, follow those instructions and be prepared to pay a customs or import fee, especially in less “modern” countries. The fee may be a surprise, so be ready for it, and it may range from USD $25-$200, often based upon arbitrary rules, regulations, and mood.

    Typically, unless they have a lot of signs and you have been warned about their customs’ regulations, just pass through baggage claim and customs normally, not calling attention to yourself, and there will be no problem as they often have bigger things to worry about than your cat or dog.

    With new security enforcement in place, many airports have dog patrols going around near baggage claim sniffing luggage. If your pet will be distressed by the approaching dog, which are normally trained to ignore other animals, do not make a scene or any sudden movements. Simply hold the animal on the side of body away from the security dog and calmly walk away to another point in the room.

    If the dog and its guard does approach and you are unable to move away, then gently raise your hand in the universal “stop” position with your hand open, palm facing them, and tell them you have a pet with you. If they do not speak English, use simple words like “cat”, “dog”, or even meow or bark softly while pointing to your pet carrier. Most security guards will smile and nod and move away.

    If they continue to approach, be prepared to step between the carrier and the dog to help ease your pet’s fears. Ask for someone who speaks English and the native language to help interpret for you, and advise them of the distress your pet may be under by the approaching dog. And be prepared to give your pet plenty of loving and reassurance when you get to your destination.

  12. Transportation from the Airport: If possible, make all transportation arrangements upon arrival in advance of your trip. Some taxis and airport shuttles or cars do not permit animals. Some countries are also not very friendly to pets in general, so check thoroughly and make special arrangements if possible.

    Upon arrival in your hotel or lodging, put the pet in a quiet place with no escape routes. Pet them and talk to them to make them feel better about what they have gone through and feed and water them, and make sure they have access to release their pent-up bathroom needs. Sometimes they will burst from the bag and race around as if in a panic. Much of this is just a way of releasing their pent up energy.

    Do not expect them to be “normal” for two to five days after arrival. Some pets take to this very well, while others take some time to recover. Just keep the food, water, and loving coming and they will be fine.

  13. Returning Home With Your Pet: Depending upon the length of your stay, as well as the rules and regulations, you will have to start this whole process over with a vet in this country. Be prepared with a list of approved vets near where you will be staying and make the appointment and arrangements before you begin your trip so they are aware of your need and prepared, too. The same applies with the airlines.
  14. Pet Traveling Tips

    We’ve been traveling almost full-time with our pets for over 15 years, so we have just a few tips for traveling with pets, especially by air.

    Pet Carriers

    We are huge fans of the Sherpa Bags for carrying pets and have been using ours for over 8 years. They were one of the first to make quality flexible bags for on board travel on airlines for pets. Now they have a wide range of different bags, but when we started, it was small, medium, and large.

    Size is critical. It must accommodate your pet and it must fit under the seat in front of you, and the two issues may not always match. Make sure the carrier allows the animal to stand and turn around, but not get lost in the case. A pet carrier that is too small will push the animal against the air circulation holes and possibly overheat the animal, as well as cause them cramps from lack of movement. One that is too large may cause the animals to slide around inside while you carry her, possibly causing injury.

    The case needs to be secure, with the animal unable to get out, but you need to be able to get in to check on the animal, reassure, or feed it. Do not put locks on the case for any reasons.

    Be sure and help the animal become accustomed to the carrier well in advance of the trip. Many people only pull out their pet carrier when it’s time for a trip to the vet. The same applies for any car ride. Therefore, pet carrier=torture.

    We use our pet carriers as a safe and secure sleeping place for our cats. We feed them there, pet them, even play games in and around the carrier, making it just another piece of furniture in the home. The more accustomed the pet is to the container, the less stress they have about being near or inside of it.

    Provide Some Food and Water

    The old motto of what you put in must come out gets complicated when traveling with pets. Some animals can go one or more days without food, but few can survive long without water. I’ll talk about handling the “what comes out” tip in a moment, but it is critical to provide water to your pet while traveling.

    Stowed under an airplane seat especially during long hot flights, a pet can become overheated and dehydrated. You can train your pet to drink from a water bottle or rabbit water bottle (upside down bottle with a drinking attachment), but take care leaving it open in the bag. The changes in cabin air pressure can cause the bottle to leak. We carry ours and then open and put it in the bag after the plane has reached cruising level. Or bring a small bowl and add water during the flight, taking care not to have the bowl too full so it sloshes and spills during the flight.

    If possible, depending upon the animal and the length of the flight, consider feeding the animal an hour or more before the flight, then only once during an average long flight, and then have food ready for arrival. Many animals aren’t interested in food with all the distractions and stress of travel, so don’t panic if they won’t eat.

    Harness and Leash Them

    Toshi wearing his harness - make them wear it all the time to allow them to become accustomed to the harnessSome airlines require the pet to remain leashed even inside the container. While this is rarely enforced, make sure the leash is ready and quickly attached if necessary. I also highly recommend putting a harness on your pet rather than a collar. Harnesses surround the neck and body, making them more secure and pets less likely to wriggle out of them. I always tighten them up a little more than usual for travel, to make sure that even the most terrified animal will not easily wriggle out if the opportunity presents itself.

    Don’t Tranquilize Your Pet

    If anyone needs a tranquilizer on a long trip it’s the owner not the pet. Do not tranquilize your pets for travel. If you are taking a pet which is unaccustomed for travel without preparation or training, and you know the animal goes berserk near a pet container or in the car, talk with your vet about the options.

    Drugs may cause more damage then good when mixed with enforced relaxation and panic. The animal may struggle with its natural anxiety and distress that may come from traumatic traveling causing the animal to fight the drug’s effect, which can seriously hurt the animal or cause it to hurt itself. A tranquilizer may slow or hamper your pet’s breathing or they find it difficult to adapt to the changes in air pressure or temperature, or even choke on food or water. It’s just too risky.

    Plan your travels with your pets and introduce them to traveling in a car before you take them on an airplane. Make it part of your schedule weeks if not months before you travel. It will make the experience a better one for everyone.

    Missing Animal – Just in Case

    Lost cat posters we posted when Toshi went missing in FloridaIt happens. Let’s not gloss over it. Animals get out of their cages and separated from their owners all the time. No matter how docile, no matter how secure you think the cage or carrier is, our pets are smart. Dahni figured out how to open his carrier and he was blind. Kohav also figured out how to open the pet backpack carrier zippers. Toshi could get out of anything, including a steal box with no air holes, I swear! So expect your pet to be just as smart as my street mutt cats.

    Carry with you one or two photographs of your pet in your travel documents. On the back of the photographs write the name, description, and contact information for the pet so you can hand it right to security or airline officials if necessary. Include copies of the microchip number and type along with any information that will help them find your pet.

    Train Your Pet to Respond to Its Name – Now

    With Toshi, as with all our animals, we trained them to come when we call their name. When he was separated from us for over a week in the wilds of Florida, we’d told many local residents about our missing cat and how he thought he was more dog than cat, coming when we called his name. Two days later, a fellow camper saw a black and white cat and remembered. He couldn’t remember his name, but struggled with “Tofu-Tofiti” and was startled when the cat suddenly ran to him and jumped right up in his arms for a desperate snuggle. Figuring this was our cat, he brought him to us and when they were four feet from us, I called his name and Toshi sprang from his arms to ours and wouldn’t let go of us for months.

    The most important lesson you can teach your traveling pet is to come when they are called, no matter what distractions are around.

    To train your cat to respond to its name, do not leave food out all day long. Have feeding times. Make a noise or indication that food is arriving and call the cat’s name at the same time. Do this for each feeding time every day consistently. Within a day or so, call the cat’s name before you rattle the food or start the can opener. Within a week or less, the cat will soon respond to its name not just the sound of food.

    When you play with the cat, call it by name. Begin to call the cat to you outside of the kitchen or feeding area, showing love and affection and a reward for their prompt arrival. When you open the door coming home, call the cat’s name to make sure it comes to you, whether it is outside or in. This reinforces the “greeting” call and encourages the cat to respond to your appearance as well. Within a very short time, even if your cat is an adult, he or she will respond to their name.

    Air Flight Layovers

    On many long overseas flights, we either chosen or been forced to stay in a layout country along our flight path. If the layover involves leaving the airport, then your pet may be affected by that country’s domestic animal import laws. For most countries, as long as you continue traveling within a 7-15 day period, they require no additional visits to vets or paperwork. Other countries may require you to jump through hoops again. Check before you go.

    The Poop Problem

    No matter how well you have trained your pet to go potty, no matter how fastidious they are about their potty habits, travel can screw up the digestive system of even the most sturdy human travelers.

    Make sure your carrier has absorbent cloths, diapers, or special pet waste absorbing materials in the bottom, and bring one or two extras if the flight is long. Also carry several plastic bags to dispose of the waste during the trip.

    If you decide to have your pet potty outside of their bag, make sure the animal is securely leashed and access to escape routes are completely restricted. Always use the same potty methods, whether a container or voice commands, and always use a gentle, loving voice around your pet, no matter how frustrated you get during the trip.

    Few airports offer access to pet potty areas like a grassy lawn, and few allow you to leave once you have passed through the security check points. So once you are inside of the airport, you need to be prepared to have other options for the pet potty process.

    If your pet is fairly used to travel, then consider bringing a small box, container, or large plastic bag and add some sand or gravel to it for a something to dig in (works for cats or dogs). During layovers, find a family/handicapped private restroom and make sure the door and all exits are tightly closed, preventing escape, and set it up for them to use. I’ve found that these work better than the public restroom as it removes distractions. Let the animal sniff around and investigate before directing their attention to the potty. I’ve trained my cats to “potty on command” which works some of the time, when they are motivated.

    Dahni was trained to use the toilet, making it easier for travel, photograph copyright Linda Kay VanFossenIf you are limited to a public restroom in an airport, choose a stall along the wall so only the front and side areas are open, or one in a corner with only the front open. With your body, carry-ons, and pet case, block the exits as much as possible. I usually sit on the floor, using my back and legs to block the open areas. Keep the pet on the leash at all times, close to you and the potty, and let them investigate within the stall and encourage them to use the potty. It’s not fun. It’s cramped, but you do what you can.

    In the aircraft, things get a little more complicated. With small animals familiar with travel, you can take them to the restroom on the plane. For animals not accustomed to travel, ts may terrify them even more. The toilet flushes using a vacuum system. While it should only activate when flushed, most planes keep a bit of a constant pull on the valve which makes a roaring rushing sound. Combined with all the other aircraft noises, this whistling roaring sound can make a sound sensitive cat very nervous. It can also cause dogs to bark, something you want to avoid on a plane.

    Allow the animal to roam and investigate the small area, and then encourage them to go potty. I will set the potty container on the toilet or the floor, or lay down a diaper-changing tray that many airplane bathrooms now feature, creating a solid base for them to use.

    On exceptionally long flights, I’ve befriended the flight attendants and occasionally they have offered me the use one of the back-of-the-plane kitchen areas or crew sleeping quarters to allow the cat out of the bag to explore or go to the bathroom in the traveling potty I carry. We close the curtain and I sit on the floor in the doorway, blocking escape. It’s often much quieter there than in the bathroom. We do this during the sleeping, movie or very quite and slow time on the plane. This, however, is a rare event with the increase in security concerns. So don’t expect it.

    Bring a Favorite or Familiar Toy

    Like children, while pets are often comforted by you, they often also have a favorite toy, plaything, blanket, or pillow. Make sure you bring that and put it in their container or at least let them see and smell it during the trip. This makes at least one thing familiar to them, and is often reassuring.

    The same applies with bringing a favorite food treat or food reward. Anything you can do to bring the familiar back to an unfamiliar situation will help calm the animal during the trip.

    Reassurance and Patience

    Always reassure the animal that they’ve done good, no matter what they do, and have a lot of patience. Some animals just won’t “go” while traveling, so make sure you keep giving them water and make the whole trip as stress-less as possible for them to help them through.

    Dead Body on the Plane – No Pet in the Cargo Hold

    Some airlines have a policy of not permitting animals to travel in the cargo hold if the flight is also transporting a dead body. Even if you have booked your flight and paid, if a deceased person is being transported on that flight, you may get bumped off.

    Traveling With Pets Overseas – Country Specific Information

    Related Resources and Articles


  • Posted July 20, 2006 at 0:47 | Permalink

    Very useful article. I was very upset when I had to leave my cat behind which going on a trip last year, written about it in my blog. good tips

  • Posted August 4, 2006 at 18:10 | Permalink

    Great and very useful article. Thanks! We traveled with our ferrets from Switzerland to Brazil and back. If someone is interested, we have published all the bureaucracy in our wesite:

  • Jil
    Posted January 25, 2007 at 4:40 | Permalink

    This is a great website, lots of tips. I’ll be flying with my 2 cats from Europe to the the United States. Perhaps I didn’t read carefully, but when I bring a pet from Europe to the United States does he have to have a microchip? Thank you for your help.

  • Holly
    Posted February 13, 2008 at 9:36 | Permalink

    Thank you so much for writing this article! I have had the hardest time finding any information on flying with a pet. I am only taking a short domestic flight, but I had no idea what to expect with security and check-in. Thank you again for giving me insight into what to expect.

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