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Tips and Guidance for Pet Travel

Traveling with your pet can be a wonderful experience for you both. However, there is much preparation before your pet can accompany you either domestically or internationally. At New Berlin Animal Hospital, our veterinarians are USDA-accredited, meaning they can supply you with the proper health certificates needed for travel. We can also give you tips on how best to transport your pet to make them as comfortable and safe as possible.

Pet Travel Guidance and Health Certificate: Dog in Travel Carrier
Pet Travel Guidance and Health Certificate: Cat Walking Out of Carrier

Attaining the Right Health Certificate

If you and your pet are crossing state lines or country borders, your pet needs a health certificate. The certificate needs to comply with the destination’s animal import regulations. Any discrepancy within the certificate could result in a refusal of admittance to the destination and possibly a quarantine.

With these tips, we hope to make this process a bit easier:

  • Do your research. Before planning a trip with your pet across any borders, research your destination state's or country’s health certificate requirements. Requirements can differ greatly between countries, so it’s important that you have the right information. The USDA APHIS website is a great place to start your research.
  • Make a timely appointment with us. Once you learn the health certificate requirements, you’ll need to work on getting all of them fulfilled. We can help with any requirements, but it’s important to complete everything in a timely manner so that we can issue a health certificate within the destination’s designated timeframe. Some countries require a health certificate issued within as little as 10 days of travel!
  • Send the completed certificate for APHIS endorsement. Not all countries require APHIS endorsement for their health certificates, so you’ll need to research your destination’s regulations to see if you need to take this step.
  • Complete any remaining requirements. Some countries allow you to complete certain requirements after we issue the health certificate. Again, your research is essential in learning the exact requirements for your destination.

Preparing for Travel

The health certificate is only part of pet travel preparation! Depending on your method of travel, your pet will need different preparation needs. The two most common forms of transport are by car or plane. Keep in mind that, in general, cats are very stressed by travel, and leaving them at home in their own environment is ideal. While dogs adapt more readily to travel, they still have significant needs. Take these tips into account:

Travel by Car:

  • Make sure you properly secure your pet with a harness or in a carrier.
  • Do not allow your dog to stick their head out of the window. Debris, bugs, or other moving vehicles can cause serious injury to your pet.
  • Ensure you stop frequently for your pet to toilet. This also allows them to stretch their legs.
  • Do not let your pet ride in the front seat of your car. If the airbags deploy, they could cause harm to your pet.
  • Ensure your pet has proper identification. If they escape from the car, or at your destination, you’ll have a better chance of being reunited if your pet has a collar and/or microchip.

Travel by Plane:

Air travel is unsuitable for animals, particularly those who must go in the cargo hold. It is best if you are able to keep your pet with you in the cabin. However, airlines often have size restrictions.

If you must take your pet by plane, follow these tips.

  • Take direct flights whenever possible.
  • Ensure you microchip your pet and place your contact information on them and on their carrier.
  • Choose flight times that accommodate extreme temperature fluctuations such as evening flights in the summer and daytime flights in the winter.
  • Inform the captain or flight attendants that your pet is in the cargo hold.
  • Do not feed your pet 4-6 hours before the trip to keep them from toileting mid-flight. Small amounts of water are necessary, however, to avoid dehydration.
  • Give your pet a thorough exam as soon as you arrive at your destination and contact the nearest veterinarian if you notice anything of concern.

Schedule an Appointment to Discuss Pet Travel

As soon as you commit to traveling with your pet and complete the necessary research for their health certificate, schedule an appointment with us! Some countries’ requirements take months to fulfill, so the sooner we can get started on your pet’s needed care, the better! Contact us today at 262-782-6910 or request an appointment online.

Pet Travel Guidance and Health Certificate: Dog Sitting in Car
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