Canine health
Dog-friendly travel

Traveling with Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide for a Stress-Free Journey

Traveling with your beloved dog can be a rewarding experience, but it requires careful planning and preparation. This comprehensive guide will help you navigate the various rules, regulations, and requirements for taking your dog on international flights and cruises, ensuring their health, safety, and comfort throughout the journey.

First Stop: Your Veterinarian’s Office

As soon as you decide to travel internationally with your dog, inform your veterinarian. They will help you determine if your dog is healthy enough for travel and meets the destination country’s requirements, as well as those for returning to the United States. These requirements may include blood tests, vaccinations, microchips for identification, permits, and health certificates. Remember that airlines and countries have different rules, so research the specific requirements for your trip.

Researching Air Travel with Dogs

Start by visiting the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Pet Travel website. This will help you understand the varying rules of different airlines for dog travel, whether in the cabin, cargo hold, or as air cargo shipments. Keep in mind that certain US carriers may not allow pet shipments during the hottest months (May to September).

Caring for Your Dog During Layovers and Connecting Flights

When waiting for a connecting flight, you may have to care for your dog traveling with you in the cabin, while airline staff or ground handlers care for a dog traveling in cargo. Check with your airline(s) beforehand to see what is required.

Ensuring Your Dog’s Comfort

Loading and unloading can be the most stressful part of travel for animals. To minimize stress, follow these tips:

  1. Get your dog used to its carrier before the flight.
  2. Choose flights with fewer connections or layovers.
  3. Pick departure and arrival times to avoid extreme heat or cold.
  4. Consult your veterinarian about sedatives or tranquilizers.
  5. Walk your dog before leaving home and again before checking in.

Cruise Ships and Travel by Sea

Confirm the rules and document requirements for traveling with dogs on cruise ships or maritime vessels with the specific cruise line or shipping company. Be aware that the CDC has temporarily suspended the importation of dogs arriving from high-risk countries for dog rabies.

Requirements for Dogs Leaving and Arriving in the United States

While the CDC does not have requirements for dogs leaving the US, there are entry requirements for dogs arriving in the country. Some states may require vaccinations and health certificates, and certain breeds may face restrictions. Consult the US Department of Agriculture website for pet entry requirements in foreign countries.

Other Pets and Importation Restrictions

For pets other than dogs, there may be different requirements or restrictions. Some animals, like primates and African rodents, cannot be brought back into the US as pets, even if they originally came from the country.

Dealing with Dog Illness or Death During Travel

Despite all precautions, dogs may get sick or die during air travel. Public health officials are required to investigate the cause of death, which may involve an animal autopsy or other tests, usually at the owner’s expense.

Alternative Options for Dog Care During Travel

If you have doubts about your dog’s ability to handle air travel, consider leaving them with a trusted friend, family member, or boarding kennel, or opt for another mode of transportation.

With proper planning and preparation, your dog can stay healthy and safe during your travels. By understanding the various rules and requirements, you’ll ensure a smoother, more enjoyable journey for both you and your furry friend.

For more information on traveling with pets, consult the following resources:

  1. International Air Transport Association (IATA) – Traveler’s Pet Corner
  2. Animal Transportation Association
  3. International Pet and Animal Transportation Association

Laws and regulations for importing pets into the United States:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  3. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  4. U.S. Department of State
  5. U.S. Department of Transportation

For questions and advice about traveling with your pet:

To learn more about maintaining your pet’s health, visit:

By following this guide and utilizing the resources provided, you can ensure a smooth and stress-free journey for both you and your dog. Remember to plan well in advance, consult with your veterinarian, and familiarize yourself with the specific rules and requirements of your chosen airline, cruise line, or other transportation providers. Always prioritize your dog’s health, safety, and comfort to make the experience enjoyable for both of you. Happy travels!