When you’re travelling without your furry companion, there are already plenty of things to remember. Passport? Check. Tickets? Check. Shoes to match every outfit? Check! Add your pet into the mix, and the list can be a little daunting. So we’ve put together this Ultimate Pet Travel Checklist to help you avoid a mini meltdown! Travelling overseas usually means that your cat or dog will require additional medication or treatment, to ensure their protection in a foreign country. These measures are also in place to manage biosecurity risks, for instance, to prevent visiting dogs transmitting rabies or other diseases. There are a few pet travel essentials that should be at the top of your cat or dog checklist! But, you may be able to skip some of the items if you aren’t flying with your pet. However, if you’re taking your pet on a flight, be aware that your airline may have their own pet travel checklist in order to check pets in for travel. Also, check out our detailed guide to Pet Travel Accessories for more information.
In addition, always speak to your vet incase there are any supplementary requirements for your destination country. For instance, in many countries, your vet will advise extra protection for your cat or dog against sandflies, mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas, as well as other little critters.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Table of contents
- 1. Microchip – First on your Pet Travel Checklist
- 2. Pet Passport or Animal Health Certificate or Import Permit
- 3. Rabies Vaccination
- 4. Dog Treated for Tapeworm
- 5. Fit to Fly Certificate if Travelling by Plane
- 6. Communicate with Pet Travel Provider & Accommodation
- 7. Buy a Suitable Pet Carrier
- 8. Get Those Scales Out!
- 9. Easing Pet Anxiety
- 10. Pet Travel Essentials for Day of Flying
- Related Pages
1. Microchip – First on your Pet Travel Checklist
First and foremost, you need to ensure that your pet has a working Microchip. If your cat or dog was tattooed with identification prior to 3 July 2011, this is usually acceptable too.
2. Pet Passport or Animal Health Certificate or Import Permit
After your pet is microchipped, you can start the process of obtaining a pet passport with your vet. You should do this as far in advance of your pet travel trip as possible. Of course, this is an absolute essential for your cat or dog travel checklist!
If you’re flying from the UK to an EU country, you need to arrange an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) with your vet instead. The AHC was introduced for pet travel from 1 January 2021 following Brexit. You can still use a UK issued pet passport to enter the UK from the EU with your cat, dog or ferret. Otherwise, you need a GB Pet Health Certificate to travel to the UK (except Northern Ireland) from the EU.
Other destinations will require their own Animal Health Certificate or Pet Import Permit. The documentation required depends on your destination country.
At this time, also discuss with your vet the additional protection your cat or dog may need in the country you have chosen to visit.
3. Rabies Vaccination
Once your pet is vaccinated against rabies, you have to wait at least 21 days before travel. Arrange an appointment with your vet to begin the Rabies Vaccination course as this is a requirement for the Pet Passport. Be sure to factor this in on your cat or dog travel checklist timeline! If you’re travelling to a non-EU country, you may have to wait longer than 21 days for the vaccination to be valid.
In addition, some countries require a rabies blood test too.
4. Dog Treated for Tapeworm
If you’re travelling to the following countries with your dog, you need to have an additional task ticked off your dog travel checklist. All dogs entering these countries must receive a Tapeworm Treatment within 1-5 days before arrival:
5. Fit to Fly Certificate if Travelling by Plane
A ‘Fit to Fly‘ Certificate may also be requested by the airline. So far, we’ve never been asked to show this, but have always obtained one anyway. It’s best to acquire this from your vet just incase they choose you! You can check out the pet travel policy for your chosen airline to be sure.
6. Communicate with Pet Travel Provider & Accommodation
Be sure to clarify the specific requirements, regulations and restrictions of your selected travel provider. For example, some pet friendly airlines and ferries don’t accept snub-nosed pets like French Bulldogs and Burmese Cats, as they may experience difficulty breathing during transport. Be sure that you tell your travel provider the breed of your pet.
It’s also really important to notify the accommodation in plenty of time before travelling with your pet. Also make sure that they confirm in writing that your pet is welcome. When travelling to pet friendly Barcelona, we had to change apartments two days before departure, despite advising the hotel months beforehand. So even if you have notified them well in advance, chase up the accommodation if they haven’t confirmed to you in writing soon after you tell them.
7. Buy a Suitable Pet Carrier
And, of course, be sure that if you’re flying with your pet, the dimensions of your selected dog or cat carrier meet your chosen airline’s specifications. Some airlines are very strict on this matter, so be aware of the exact dimensions that you must adhere to. If your pet is travelling in the hold of the plane, the travel crate for your cat or dog must also meet International Air Transport Association (IATA) requirements. Check out our cat and dog crate calculator to ensure your chosen pet kennel is IATA ‘approved’.
8. Get Those Scales Out!
Don’t panic, they’re not for you! Just to check the combined weight of your pet and travel carrier, and that it’s in accordance with your airline’s stipulations. In a cabin you are usually allowed a soft or hard carrier that fits the pet friendly airline’s specified dimensions, though some only permit soft carriers. When flying with a pet in the cabin, you still have to adhere to IATA policies which define the minimum inner space permitted for your cat or dog’s carrier. Check out 8 Purr-fect Pet in Cabin Carriers.
Your cat or dog must be able to:
- stand up and turn around without touching the surface of the travel carrier
- sit erect
- lie down in a natural position
9. Easing Pet Anxiety
Another priority for your pet travel checklist for your cat or dog is necessary if your pet can be nervous or anxious in new situations. Firstly, speak to your vet to discuss the best approach for your individual cat or dog. If your pet is flying in the cabin or hold, never use a method of sedation as it can be dangerous for your cat or dog, and ethical airlines won’t accept a sedated animal.
As a non-evasive method of easing pet anxiety, your pet travel essentials might include something like Pooch & Mutt Mini Bone Dog Treats, or Beaphar Cat Calming Treats. These are filled with natural calming aids to soothe your cat or dog when they’re stressed.
We’ve used these, along with Adaptil Travel Spray for Dogs for our first couple of pet flights. You’ll find that once your dog has a couple of positive excursions under their belt, they’ll no longer need them.
For cats, Feliway Classic Calming Spray works a treat – it helped get our feisty cat, Star, acquainted with our new kitten, Storm! So, add this one to your cat travel checklist if your feline friend is a nervous traveller.
If your cat or dog is prone to travel sickness, check out our Guide to Pet Travel Nausea Treatments.
10. Pet Travel Essentials for Day of Flying
If you’re flying in particular, or if your dog will be travelling separately from you, remember the additional pet travel checklist essentials of food, water, poop bags and exercise on travel day! And, of course, remember to pack your supply of food and treats for your cat or dog for the duration of your trip.
- Give them the chance to burn off all that energy. Then there’s a chance that they will while away the journey in the land of nod. And of course make sure they have as many toilet breaks as possible before they are restricted to a travel carrier. Unfortunately, felines and canines aren’t permitted to use those lovely airline lavatories!
- It’s recommended that you feed your pet 2-4 hours before departure. Though it’s best to aim for the higher end of that scale. This allows enough time for their food to digest and to avoid any accidents.
- It’s not just us humans that have to stay hydrated in flight. So lots of water is in order for your pet prior to departure. At least your pooch won’t ruin all the good hydration work by accessing the in flight alcohol trolley (unlike some of us!).
- If you’re travelling with your pet in the hold of a plane. Remember to pack the food and water bowls for their travel kennel. The exact requirements of these vary by airline so you will of course have checked what is permitted beforehand!
- If your pet will be with you during the journey. Have some treats to give them every now and again. Not too many of course for obvious reasons. An odd treat, and regular pats on the head will offer some reassurance that everything is ok.
We would add ‘don’t forget the toothbrush ’, but, of course, Django and Arya much prefer dog breath over dental hygiene!
If you’re looking for a pet friendly airline, have a look at 10 Pet Friendly Airlines in the EU, as well as Airlines that Permit Pets in Cabin UK. Also, always remember to protect your pet when you travel to a foreign destination.
Most importantly of all, enjoy your adventure, and remember to tell us all about it by leaving a review!