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10 international pet travel myths explained

International pet travel is a commonly misunderstood topic. The rules are complex and different for each country, which has unfortunately contributed to a multitude of misconceptions.

Pet parents always want the best for their furry friends and almost always factor their pets into their travel plans. However, because of all the misconceptions about pet travel, pet parents hesitate to put their pets through the stress of the journey.

If you are planning on travelling with your pet and are anxious about the journey, here are some common pet travel myths explained.

Myth: All airlines have similar pet policies

Unfortunately, all airlines are not pet-friendly and do not have the same pet policies. Different airlines have different policies that change depending on the destination and sometimes, even the temperature of the destination city. Some airlines are not pet-friendly and do not accept pets on board. Others have well-established pet policies that have been established to ensure your pet is safe and always protected during the flight.

When you plan international pet travel, make sure to choose a pet-friendly airline that prioritises the safety of your pet. A pet-friendly airline has dedicated staff who are trained to handle pets during boarding and disembarking and offer safe pet lounges to relax in during the comfort stop. When you book a pet-friendly airline for your pet, your pet will be treated with experience and care and will have a pleasant pet travel experience.

Myth: Pet import regulations are elaborate and perplexing

Many pet parents are hesitant to travel with their pets because of the complex pet import regulations that are laborious, time-consuming and frankly, very confusing. Though every country has different pet import rules, the basic requirements of most countries are similar – vaccinations, microchip, external and internal parasite treatment and health certificate. Some countries require a rabies titre test, but if your pet is travelling from a country with low rabies, a rabies titre test is not required.

It is indeed easier to bring your pet to some countries over others. Some countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore have strict biosecurity laws that can make pet travel daunting. Partnering with an experienced pet travel agency is recommended because the agent will handhold you and your pet through the whole process and ensure the journey is a pleasant and stress-free experience.

It is simpler to travel between countries of the European Union. It is also generally more straightforward to travel from a country where there is a low incidence of rabies.

A simple tip to ensure safe and stress-free travel is to make sure your pet’s vaccinations and pet passport are always current and to enlist the services of a professional pet transport company with a positive track record and recommended by other pet parents.

Myth: Vet visits are unnecessary before pet travel if your pet is vaccinated

Vet visits are an essential step in the international pet travel process. When your pet travels to a different country, they need to follow all the pet import regulations to be able to enter the country. Rabies and other core vaccines for dogs and cats are mandatory in most countries.

Apart from the vaccinations, your pet will need a health certificate, a microchip and external and internal parasite treatment before travelling. Your vet will be able to help you with all these requirements. Ideally, your pet dog or cat will need to visit the vet at least twice before the date of travel.

Myth: Pets and pet parents have to travel on the same flight

International relocation is not always easy and booking your pet and yourself on the same flight may not always be possible. During international travel, pets fly as manifested cargo in the cargo hold of the aircraft. If your pet is checked in as manifested cargo, you do not need to accompany your pet on the same flight. Some airlines and routes allow pets to board the flight as accompanied excess baggage. If your pet is travelling as excess baggage, an adult passenger must accompany the pet.

It is important to learn about the pet import regulations of the country you are travelling to before beginning your pet travel plans. Some countries in Europe insist that pet parents travel within five days of their pet’s travel if it is non-commercial transport.

Myth: Pets must be sedated before travel

Sedation is one of the biggest myths of international pet travel. Many pet parents think sedating their pets will ensure a stress-free pet travel experience. However, veterinary experts agree that sedating a pet before air travel is not recommended.

Sedatives are known to reduce heart rate and body temperature in a pet. Every pet responds differently to sedatives, and sometimes sedatives can cause adverse reactions in a pet.

Brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Persian cats, etc. are especially vulnerable during air travel because of their short snouts and must never be sedated.

The alternative to sedation is crate training so your pet is comfortable in their travel crate.

Myth: The cargo hold is dangerous for pets

Pets travelling to international destinations are securely loaded in a dedicated space in the cargo hold of the aircraft. The hold is pressurised and temperature-controlled; the temperature and pressure are the same as it is in the cabin of the plane.

Your pet’s travel crate is securely fastened to the aircraft to ensure the crate will not move during take-off, landing or turbulence. The lights in the hold are dimmed, and most pets are calm and sleep during the flight. The cargo hold is safer and quieter than the cabin where your pet can be overwhelmed by the people and the noise. 

Myth: Small dogs and cats can travel in the cabin of the aircraft

It is very reassuring for a pet parent to have their pet with them in the cabin as they fly to their destination. However, not all airlines allow pets to fly in the cabin. If you are keen for your pet to travel in the cabin with you, check the airline’s pet policies before planning your travel.

All dogs and cats travelling to and from Australia are required to travel in the cargo hold, irrespective of their size. Some airlines in Europe and the United States allow pets to travel in the cabin. The weight of the travel, including your pet, must not exceed 8kg to be able to travel in the cabin.

Myth: Pets need a treat or a toy in the crate during travel

Many pet parents want to leave a treat or a toy for their pet in the travel crate with the false notion that it will help with boredom. Most international airlines will not let your pet travel with a toy or a treat because it is not safe for the pet and can be a choking hazard or a security risk.

Most pet travel experts recommend that you place an old blanket or a t-shirt that smells of you in the crate to reassure your pet during the flight. Remember not to put anything that is of sentimental value or too expensive because officials in some countries discard crate bedding after travel for hygiene and quarantine reasons.

Myth: All countries have mandatory quarantine for incoming pets

Quarantine is perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions of international pet travel. Many pet parents hesitate to travel with their pets because of the false belief that their pet has to stay in lengthy quarantine whenever they travel to a different country.

Quarantine is necessary to ensure zoonotic and exotic diseases do not spread from one country to another and help in keeping local flora and fauna safe from introduced pests and diseases.

Not all countries have a mandatory quarantine, and the length of any mandatory quarantine depends on the rabies status of both the destination and origin countries. Zero rabies countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hawaii, etc. are notoriously stringent about quarantine to safeguard the country against rabies. If you are travelling to such a country from a country where rabies is present, your pet will be quarantined before entering the country. The length of the quarantine is different for each country and is usually between seven to ten days, provided all other pet import regulations are met.

Most European countries, the United States, Canada and other countries do not have mandatory quarantine as long as your pet has been vaccinated before arrival. Some countries insist on a rabies titre test to check the efficacy of the rabies vaccine while other countries require the pet to wait from 30 to 180 days after the rabies vaccination before travelling.

Quarantine centres in most countries are clean and hygienic and often comfortable facilities for pets. Some quarantine centres allow visitors where you can visit your pet every day for grooming and exercise. Some quarantine centres such as the Post Entry Quarantine Centre at Mickleham in Australia do not allow pet parents to visit their pets during the quarantine.

Remember to book space in the quarantine centre before your pet begins their travel. If you are unsure about the quarantine rules in the country that your pet is travelling to, get in touch with an experienced pet travel agency for more details.

Myth: Pet travel agents are expensive and unnecessary

It is possible to book your pet’s journey entirely on your own, but an experienced pet travel agency can help you and your pet in myriad ways. When you partner with a pet travel agent, you can rest assured your pet is in safe hands. Pet travel agents are aware of the changing nature of pet travel regulations and can walk you through the whole process effortlessly.

Your pet travel partner plays a large role in making sure your pet’s journey is smooth and hassle-free; choosing the right pet travel agency to help you with the relocation is vital. They will help you save time and energy, both of which you need for your own relocation, and ensure your pet has all the necessary documentation and paperwork to be boarded onto their flight and approved to enter their destination country. During unforeseen circumstances, such as a pet crate being rejected due to size, a flight changing or being cancelled or mandatory travel paperwork being misplaced, a pet travel company will be on call 24 hours a day to resolve issues. From booking your pet on the most direct flight to organising vet visits, from assisting with paperwork to negotiating all the necessary approvals, an accredited pet travel partner is invaluable during an international pet relocation.

If you are planning to travel internationally with your pet, reach out to the team at Petraveller on more information on zero-harm pet transport and a free pet travel quote