By Ann Hohenhaus, DVM
With the holidays over and summer not yet here, now is a good time to think about advanced planning for the upcoming trip you and your pet will be taking. If you haven’t thought about taking a trip with your pet, think again. Millions of Americans travel with their pets both locally and internationally and according to an August 2012 TripAdvisor.com survey, 49% of the pet owning public have plans to travel with their pets.
Get some ID
Entrance into many countries requires your pet to have a permanent form of identification. The best form is a microchip placed by your veterinarian. Even if you don’t plan to travel anytime soon, every pet should have a microchip to help get them back home if they are lost. If your pet already has a microchip, double check and make sure the registration information is paid and up to date. Inaccurate information in the microchip database prevents animal rescue groups from contacting you when they find your pet.
Do your homework
Research the pet entry requirements for your destination. Every country is different. As a start, review the information provided by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Their website contains both general information and some country-specific information about pet travel.
You should also locate information on pet travel on the website of the country you plan to visit. Although you and your pet are simply going on vacation, the information about pet entry requirements may be found under import/export regulations. If you cannot find the information or you need further clarification, call the country’s consulate or embassy. The United States Department of State has a listing.
If you find conflicting information about entry requirements, the destination country holds the trump card, so rely on their website and embassy.
Pack the paper
Not newspaper, but your pet’s papers. According to TripAdvisor.com, only 45% of pet owners travel with health certificates and rabies documentation. I find this surprising. Keeping your pet’s vaccinations up to date and keeping their vaccination certificates on file will help streamline obtaining critical travel documents. Bring copies with you and ask your veterinarian for a summary of your pet’s medical conditions and medications.
- Start early. Some countries require your pet to have a special rabies blood test performed. Only certain laboratories perform this test and timing is critical.
- Even though you may have started preparing early for your trip, certain travel documents must be signed only days before departure. Allow time in your schedule to finalize any of your pet’s travel documents.
- Some countries require your pet’s health papers be signed by a USDA accredited veterinarian. Not all veterinarians are accredited, so check with your veterinarian well in advance of your trip to make sure you have an appointment with one who can sign the travel papers.