Tips for Pet Travel
If you are moving to a new state or traveling with your pet-especially to other countries (even Canada and the Caribbean)-you will likely need an Interstate or International Health Certificate. To know for sure what is required, St. Marks Veterinary Hospital recommends contacting the visiting country's consulate or embassy. A helpful list can be found at: http://www.state.gov/s/cpr/rls/fco.
Additionally, The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is responsible for ensuring that people traveling by air with pets treat them safely and humanely. This includes regulations, tests, inspections and forms that need to be completed by an accredited APHIS Veterinarian before you travel.
We are fully capable of helping you find and fill out the necessary paperwork as well as provide a number of pet traveling tips to make sure that your trip is safe, fun and relaxing. The following should help you get started:
Wellness Checkup - Before your trip, you need to have your pet examined (usually within 10 days of travel) to ensure that it is healthy enough to make the trip. All dogs and cats must be at least 8 weeks old and must have been weaned before traveling by air. They must be up-to-date on all vaccinations and free of internal and external parasites. In order to sign an International Health Certificate we must be sure the pets are free of any infectious or contagious diseases.
Safe Travel Carrier - If traveling by air, your pet must be in a kennel that meets standards for size, strength, sanitation and ventilation. Here are some specifics directly from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service:
- Size and Strength: The kennel must be enclosed and allow room for your pet to stand, sit, and lay in a natural position. They must be easy to open, strong enough to withstand the normal rigors of transportation, and free of objects that could injure the animal.
- Sanitation: Carriers must have a solid, leak-proof floor that is covered with litter or absorbent lining. Wire or other ventilated sub-floors are generally allowed; pegboard flooring is prohibited.
- Ventilation: Kennels must be well ventilated with openings that make up at least 14 percent of the total wall space. At least one-third of the openings must be located in the top half of the carrier. They also must have rims to prevent ventilation openings from being blocked by other cargo. Grips or handles are required for lifting to prevent cargo personnel from having to place their fingers inside the kennel and risk being bitten. They must also be marked "LIVE ANIMALS" or "WILD ANIMALS" on the top and one side with directional arrows indicating proper position.
- Animals per Kennel: Each species must have its own carrier with the exception of compatible cats and dogs of similar size. Maximum numbers are two puppies or kittens less than 6 months of age and 20 pounds each and of similar size, 15 guinea pigs or rabbits, and 50 hamsters. Airlines may have more restrictive requirements, such as allowing only one adult animal per carrier. Be sure to check with the airline you are using.
Pet Bird Travel Abroad - Bird owners that take their pets with them while traveling abroad are generally exempted from some USDA quarantine and foreign certification requirements for imported birds. This exception applies only to birds from the U.S. and is permitted as long as the owner makes special arrangements in advance. If you wish to take your bird abroad you must obtain all necessary documents from the USDA and the Department of the Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service before departure. For more information on traveling abroad with your bird, contact: USDA APHIS Veterinary Service at 4700 River Road, Unit 39, Riverdale, MD 20731-1231. The telephone number is (301) 734-5097.
Additional Measures - We also recommend the following:
- Prepare your pet by taking him or her on shorter trips beforehand.
- Pack a copy of your pet's health records and rabies vaccination certificate.
- Include a photo and physical description along with your paperwork.
- Microchip your pet and register them nationwide.
- Add a tag to your dog's collar that includes a telephone number where you can be reached if your dog gets separated from you.
- Make sure you have all your pet's medications and get refills if needed.
- Take fresh water with you for your pet to drink and feed them lightly before travel.
- Check with hotels and campgrounds regarding pet restrictions and regulations.
- Start your travel preparations several months in advance as many countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, have stringent requirements.
For additional questions about traveling with your pet, including each country's requirements, please visit the US Department of Agriculture's website at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wps/portal/aphis/resources/travelers-int. Make sure you check your airline's requirements as they can even be more strict than those of the country. A list of pet-friendly hotels can be found at www.petswelcome.com.