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Getting your pet healthy and fit before travel

Travelling with pets is no walk in the park – the process is long and sometimes convoluted. It is important to make sure they are healthy and fit before travel to give them the best tools to help cope with the stress of travel.

A healthy pet is one of the requirements of international pet travel and many countries examine your pet on arrival for signs of disease or ill health. If your pet fails to conform to the destination country’s health standards, your dog or cat could be refused permission to enter the country.

If you are planning to fly to an international destination with your pet dog or cat, making sure they are healthy and fit before travel is a must. Here’s what you can do to get your pet ready for travel:

Visit the vet

One of the very first steps in the process of international pet relocation is to bring your pet dog or cat to the vet for a thorough examination. Discuss any health issues your pet might have and take steps to start treatment. Check for common pet issues such as skin infections, ear infections, parasites, respiratory illnesses, or digestive illnesses and start treatment immediately to address them.

Treat for parasites

Most countries require your pet to undergo a series of internal and external parasite treatments before travelling. Speak to your vet about the travel requirements of the destination country and begin the procedure. Your pet and will require to be free of all external and internal parasites before they can travel.

Check for infections

Ask your vet to check for common infections and diseases, especially contagious diseases in your pet. If your pet is found to be suffering from infectious disease by health officials in the destination country, your pet could face increased quarantine time, or worse could be returned to the country of origin.

Vaccinations and microchip

The most basic requirement for international pet travel is that your pet has received his or her rabies and other mandatory vaccinations and that the vaccinations are current at the time of travel. Core vaccinations for a dog include rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and adenovirus. Mandatory cat vaccines are rabies, panleukopenia, feline calicivirus, and feline viral rhinotracheitis.

Your pet cat and dog also need to be microchipped before travel. Speak to your vet about implanting an ISO-compliant microchip and make a note of the microchip number on all your pet’s records.

Puppies and kittens need to be 12 to 15 weeks old to be allowed to fly internationally. If you are planning to travel with your young pet, make sure they have received all their vaccinations before travel.

Help your obese pet get fit

Pet dogs and cats are prone to obesity due to overindulgence that stems from inaccurate feed schedules and insufficient exercise. An obese pet is more at risk during air travel than healthy pets. Obese pets, just like humans, are more vulnerable to disease and illness. Overweight cats and dogs are more likely to be in distress during air travel, and it is best to manage your pet’s weight before the trip. Obese pets can display respiratory issues during the flight and may find it harder than healthy pets to adjust to the change in altitude.

Speak to your vet about a meal and exercise regimen that will help your pet obtain optimum weight. A canine trainer can help your dog lose the stubborn body fat. Take your pet dog on outdoor activities such as long walks, hikes, swimming, and jogging for fun ways to lose the flab.

Cats can benefit from exercise too – cat exercise is the latest trend aimed at overweight cats that need to drop a few pounds. Feed your cat a restricted low-calorie diet and encourage him or her to move around and get active.

Brachycephalic or snub-nosed cat and dog breeds are especially vulnerable during air travel. If your brachycephalic pet is overweight, it is critical to bring them down to a healthy weight before travelling. These breeds are known to face respiratory distress and can overheat during air travel. Therefore, it is imperative to lose weight before they start their journey.

Stress and separation anxiety

Though most pets are unfazed by the process of international travel, some pets can get very nervous during the journey. Such pets display signs of stress and separation anxiety before travel. Separation anxiety in a pet must be resolved before beginning the trip, and it is best to visit a canine behaviour specialist to figure out the cause for distress and treat it well before the date of travel.

Health and quarantine

When your pet travels to a different country, a veterinary health official from the destination country will inspect your pet dog or cat on arrival. To pass this inspection, your pet must be in the best of health. In some countries such as New Zealand, pets on arrival are thoroughly examined for health issues. Even the presence of flea dirt on your pet can result in increased quarantine, or in severe cases your pet will be denied entry into the country.

Planning an international trip with your pet is a long process. Paperwork and documentation aside, your pet’s health and well-being is the most essential part of the process. If you are planning to travel internationally with your dog or cat, remember to start the process early with your pet’s health taking priority. Get in touch with our team at Petraveller for more information on pet health and how it can impact international travel.