The Travelling Pet

By: Andrea Marshall

Whether by plane, train or automobile there is a lot to consider when travelling with your pet. No matter the destination there is always something that can get overlooked.

You should contact your consulate, embassy, customs or government authority to ensure you have an updated list of rules and regulations required to travel with your pet. Your veterinary team at the Eastern Passage Village Veterinary Hospital is happy to work with you to help prepare your pet for travel, and can help you with some of the requirements on that list.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Vaccinations: An exam is recommended annually by your veterinarian. This allows your vet to keep a detailed health record of your pet, changes in health status and enables him/her to make recommendations to benefit your pet. At the same time, your vet will recommend vaccinations to help prevent contraction and spread of disease. This is particularly important if you need to board your pet suddenly or intend to cross borders.

Time is of the essence. Many vaccines require a booster 4 weeks following the initial inoculation; this is required for pets receiving a vaccine for the first time, or for a pet whose vaccination status has expired. Like your passport, some destinations require that the rabies vaccination has been given to an animal more than 6 months before the border crossing. If your pet does not meet these requirements they may be refused at boarding facilities or even at the border.

If you think you may be travelling or even just boarding your cat or dog, call your veterinarian to ensure that all vaccinations are up-to-date. Advanced notice of the travel date will allow us to help you schedule the required vaccinations in enough time for a relaxed summer vacation without any surprises.

Documentation: Health certificates, vaccination certificates and other documents are often required for travel outside your country. Depending on where you are travelling, and how long you are staying – you may be required to get a passport issued for your pet. The CFIA oversees this application process while you and your veterinarian work together to meet the requirements. This may include quarantine, vaccine titres, micro-chipping, etc. Some countries require that your pet be quarantined periods of 6 months or longer.

Restrictions: Pets in poor health may be denied at any border crossing (including re-entry into Canada) and may be subject to an examination and medical treatments.

There are also some countries (and even some provinces within our own country) that have enforced breed bans, preventing certain dog breeds from entering or even passing through. If you are considering a move, this may be something you will want more details on.

Checked pets may be restricted from flying to locations due to extreme heat either seasonally or year round depending on location. Destinations such as Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic and even some parts of the USA.

The following is a list of other things to consider that may have restrictions or limitations:

Do I have enough medications for the trip?

Keep in mind that prescription medications (including your regular flea control) require a written prescription from a veterinarian. If you are travelling to another country, veterinarians in Canada are not necessarily licenced to practice medicine in the country you are travelling to. How long between medication doses? Are you going to have access to your pet to give these medications on the required schedule?

Do I have enough food for the trip?

Is your diet available for purchase when you get there? Is it available in the same form that you usually purchase it? (I.e. canned vs. dry) Does it require a prescription from your vet? Does it need to be kept in its original container for transport? What if it’s opened? Many diets available in Canada are not available in other countries. Diets available at your regular veterinarian may not be carried by the clinic that will be providing services to you and your pets even within Canada. (Although they may be able to order something in for you if you are travelling within Canada)

I may need medications to help my pet travel better.

Has your vet prescribed something in the past for your pet? If so, does it require an examination to prescribe again? Did you have success with this medication last time? If not, you and your vet may want to discuss what is best for your pet before the day of travel. Is this medication something that you should test by taking a ride in the car prior to ‘the big day’? These questions may be something to discuss with your veterinarian at the time of your annual vaccine appointment.

Does your hotel allow pets?

If you are booking accommodations, be sure to book with a pet friendly location that allows pets.

General Travel: Always let your veterinarian know if you will be travelling. This will allow your veterinary team to send medical records to another hospital in case of emergency while you are away. Keep a list of veterinary hospitals near your destination in case your pet needs food or requires a visit with the doctor.

Plane or Train: If you are transporting your pet by air, or taking the train it is important to contact the airline, or rail line you are using to ensure you adhere to the standards they have set. Kennel size, vaccination protocol, which flights they can travel on, carry-on vs. checked pets and the documentation they require all vary considerably, so ensure you have a check list to help keep you on track!

Regulations for pet transport can be changed without notice and vary significantly from place to place, which makes it very important to ensure that the proper channels have been contacted for a list of rules and regulations.

Always contact the appropriate agencies prior to travel with your pet. Your consulate, embassy, customs or government authority should be contacted to ensure your pet will me the entrance requirements. If you are taking a round-trip, your pet will be subject to re-entry requirements at your country of origin.

The USDA & CDC have additional information for travelling to the United States of America. You will find information from the CFIA on information about returning to Canada. *see links below

Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA): 1-800-442-2342