Imagine you are preparing to go on a trip. You have your luggage packed in the car, your family is all sitting in the car waiting for you to get your last few items before you leave for your vacation to Hawaii! You go through your mental checklist of all the things you have prepared: Luggage, snacks, money, wallet, dog.... Suddenly you realize that you forgot your dog's vaccination information and health certificate! Unfortunately, health certificates are a long, involved process, and it is too late to obtain one for your trip to Hawaii. You will have to board your pet somewhere...
Situations like this could happen to anyone. Getting all prepared for a trip only to realize that flights would require your pet to have certain health qualifications can be a surprise to some owners. This post will help guide you through what you need to do to prepare your pet for a trip out of state, or even out of the country.
Travelling requirements for a pet can vary greatly depending on where you would like to travel. There are instances where travelling interstate can be more difficult to achieve with your pet than travelling internationally. As if travelling wasn't complicated enough, each airline may have different travel requirements if you are flying, and there could be a difference in laws that need to be followed if you were driving internationally or interstate. No matter where you travel, you should do your research on the location you are going to and keep your pet comfortable and well hydrated throughout the travelling process. It may be a good idea to take your pet on a drive around town first to see how travelling is handled. Knowing how your pet reacts in a travelling environment may help you discuss any medications that may be useful to your pet's comfort and safety with your veterinarian. Having comforting items may also be useful, if your pet likes snuggling with a stuffed animal or blanket. If you have a pet that likes to chew on and eat blankets, bones, or other items, it may be wise to not provide those for your pet until after the travelling is done. Ingestion of foreign bodies can be a serious medical situation, and travelling may put you in a place that does not have quality veterinary care available. Knowing your pet and how it will react while travelling will help you make some of these decisions on how to prepare your pet for travel.
With all the requirements that differ drastically between locations, you may be wondering how you can find out what requirements you need to meet before travelling with your pet. The United States Department of Agriculture has a good website that can cover your questions on legal requirements for health certificates and travelling with your pet, which can be found here- https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel.
Regardless of where you travel, it is likely you will need a health certificate. Most airlines require one, and most states and all international travelling will require one. A health certificate is just certification from a veterinarian that the pet is healthy, along with any indications of disease that could be passed on to other animals. It is usually filled out for the most part by your veterinarian, although you may also need the state veterinarian to sign your paperwork as well. Because of the long bureaucratic process involved, it is recommended that you begin planning health certificate work with your veterinarian 8-12 months in advance. This ensures that all deadlines and requirements are understood, as well as the financial payments involved with various tests and procedures that need to be done. Some tests take a month or longer to be completed, and it is too important to not take precautions with how much time to allot yourself to getting the health certificate done.
Travelling with your pet can be fun and exciting, and with a little work beforehand you can have a safe and relaxing vacation. With a health certificate, up to date vaccines, and a kennel set up, you and your pet are prepared for whatever the vacation brings. Have a safe spring break and travel well!