Flying with your dog can feel like a big scary process but with forward planning and preparations it is actually relatively easy. It´s just a matter of being organized and not leaving it till the last minute.
First of all you must research your destination, and confirm if there is any quarantine period, what paperwork, and vaccinations are required. We usually search on http://www.pettravel.com it details all the requirements for every country.
Still sure about flying with your dog? There we go then!
First of all, find the best airline regarding pet care, very easy to look it up in internet.
Now that you have picked the airline to fly with your dog, two things that are mandatory across all countries is dogs/pets must be micro chipped, have a current rabies vaccination and deworming + defleaing:
◊ Micro Chipping
Regardless if you are traveling with your pet or not, you should have your dog micro chipped, this is for peace of mind even in your home country in the horrible event your dog goes missing, having a micro chip could speed up the process in being reunited, as this is something council pounds, and vets check first. Be sure to keep your details updated if you move or change contact details. It is also mandatory to have pet’s micro chipped for flying. Microchips are inserted by your veterinary and registered online with the company with your contact details and description of the dog.
◊ Rabies Vaccination and titre testing
Your dog needs to have a current rabies vaccination (remember to have it on date as they want you to have a rabies shot every year). You just will need a titer testing if the dog is flying out from a country with rabies. If this is your situation, go to the vet and they will arrange it for you, just keep in mind it will take a few months and some money. [Gingers titer testing was done in South Africa and cost $300 and was a 4 months process].
◊ Deworming and defleaing
You will need to have a proof that your dog has been deworming and defleaing a few days before travel. Normally it is in 5 days before travels but check the requirements of your arrival country.
Also, not all the countries have pet passports, like for example Zambia. But if your country have them, like Europe, it makes the travel much more easy. Your vet can arrange your passport. [Ginger’s passport cost 50€].
Now that you know the basic needs for your dog to fly, we go to an important subject, the different options of travel. There are three different ways you can travel with your dog and the requirements for all of them are very different and depend on the airline you are traveling with.
1) As Excess Luggage – cheapest option and only possible if you are travelling in the same flight as your pet. They travel in the cargo area. You will introduce your pet when buying your air tickets. Make sure to ring to the airline a few days before to let them know you are bringing your dog. You will pick up your pet at the pick up luggage at the arrival airport. You will need a crate and prepare it so your dog flies comfortable and also following the airlines requirements [Ginger air ticket with Air Norwegian from Barcelona to Oslo (Norway) cost 80€]
2) As Cargo – expensive but an option if you are not travelling with your pet. They travel in the cargo area. You will need an IATA approved crate and prepare it for the flight. You will pick up your dog at the cargo company you have arranged the flight [Ginger flight from Lusaka (Zambia) to Barcelona cost $1200]
3) Cabin – some airlines allow pets under around 8kg to travel with you in the cabin of the aircraft. So if you have a tiny pet and you can reach your destination by one of these airlines I am so jealous 😉
Whichever you choose you need to confirm with the airline their requirements as they change between them.
Have in mind that depending on the airline you are traveling with or the countries you are going through, sometimes there are just two or even one option available for your travels.
Obviously, the 3rd option of traveling in the cabin with your dog is the best one, but if your dog does not fit the requirements we really suggest traveling as excess luggage in the cargo area (option1) than as a cargo (option2). It makes the flight SO much easier for you and also for your dog. When they go just as a cargo the pick up part can be incredibly problematic and long. We had a very bad experience while arriving to Barcelona airport from Zambia with WFS cargo company, being so unprofessional and not even knowing what they had to do.
If your dog needs to go in the cargo area, as Ginger does, will need a crate and you will have to prepare it so your dog is confortable and safe during the flight. We know it can be quite confusing so below we explain you how we prepare the crate for Ginger:
- make sure the crate measurements fit the airline requirements
- flight crates have to be pretty big allowing your dog to stand in it and still not touch the crate with its head.
- if it is a long flight put some absorbing padding in it in case your dog needs to wee or poo
- put a blanket or towel over the padding. If it is a long flight we advice to tape them together to make sure they don’t move and your dog is comfortable during the whole flight
- if it is a long flight freeze some water in the crate bowl and also put some dog dry food in it too so your dog gets some nutrients while drinking. Adding a big size rodent water dispenser as extra water is a very good idea. The water cannot fall if the crate moves and it can fit almost 1L of water.
- on flights with lay overs you will have to tape to the crate a plastic bag with biscuits and the staff will feed your dog between flights
- make sure to secure the crate once your dog is in with cable ties so the door or the crate will NOT open in any possible way
These points are the basic points for all flights with dogs but NOT THE ONLY ONES. Each country has its own requirements so please make sure you check them out before starting a trip with your pet.
Flying with your dog can be very stressful especially for us, humans, worrying how our beloved companion is going to be. From our experience we have had amazing airlines taking an awesome care of Ginger (Emirates and Air Norwegian) and all the big problems we have had related to flying with a dog have been due to the cargo company like WFS. So try to have a relaxed mind, the flight is going to be ok.
We advise you to keep your mind focused on all the things you can make for your dog to have a better and safe flight, and try to keep it away from the over worrying. Of course the cargo area it is not a pleasant place for a dog to be but try to think in a different way, where are you going to go after? How happy is your dog going to be in the new place or country? How many adventures are you going to have together after that flight?
If you have any question feel free to write a message bellow, send us an email or a DM through our instagram @nomad.dog
GOOD TRAVELS DOGS!