Travelling with Pets – Tips on Taking your Dog Around the World

One of the greatest problems pet owners face when going on holiday, is “who is going to look after the dog”!

Kennels are an option, but I have yet to meet a dog owner who is happy to leave their beloved pooch with a stranger, and while friends and family may be able to help-out occasionally, if you travel often and for long periods, it may be time to consider taking your pet with you.

If you live in Europe, travelling throughout other EU member states with your dog is easy. You simply need to have your dog micro-chipped, have an up-to-date rabies vaccination certificate, and depending on the country you visit, you may need to show a certificate of health from your vet.

Providing you have the necessary documentation, you and your dog can travel freely throughout the EU, and you will have no problems returning home at the end of your holiday.

As Switzerland is not a member of the EU, they do have slightly different laws, and if you intend to transit the country with a dog with docked ears or a docked tail, you will need a permit to do so (although the chances of them asking to see it are slim!).

Travel outside the EU can be slightly more complicated to arrange, but with the right planning, it is still possible.  We took our ‘daughter’ (a golden Cocker Spaniel) to nine different countries including the Canary Islands, the Greek Islands, Bulgaria, South Africa and the Caribbean, and surprisingly, South Africa required the most paperwork.

An entry permit from the SA department of agriculture, five blood tests, and heartworm treatments are required if you wish to enter South Africa with your dog.  All dogs must travel as cargo, and are collected in the cargo section of the airport.

Entry into the US and the Caribbean is probably easier for your dog than it is for you! Your dog must be micro-chipped, have an up-to-date vaccinations certificate, and a health certificate issued no more than 10 days before your flight – that’s it!

Travelling to Asia is more difficult. Many countries will not allow you to bring your dog back into your home country if they have visited certain areas, so we strongly recommend you check with the relevant authorities before making your journey.

Australia, as one would expect, is a big no-no, unless you want to subject your family pet to several months of quarantine.  If you are emigrating it may be an option, but for holidays, it is just not possible.

For all other countries, we recommend you allow at least 4 months for arranging paperwork, and do your homework before you leave home.

Flying with dogs has never been easier, and if you are taking a short flight on a national airline, you will be able to book your dog on the plane when you book your own ticket.  Size and weight restrictions apply, and the general rule is that if your dog weighs over 5kg, it needs to travel in the hold of the plane, rather than in the cabin.

If your dog must travel in the hold, you will need a strong, high quality crate or ‘pet taxi’.  There are several popular brands to choose from, and your vet will be able to recommend the right size for your particular dog.

If you have a cute lap dog, you will be able to take your dog into the cabin.  Airlines insist that your dog stays inside a suitable pet carrier for the entire duration of the flight, but once you are airborne, you can put the bag on your knee to reassure your faithful friend.

When it comes to using travel medication on your dogs, the jury is out – some vets recommend it, others do not.  We tried it once, but found our dog travelled much better without it.

Our vet always recommended a light morning meal and plenty of exercise before taking our dog on a long flight, and despite being a little dehydrated, she always arrived fit, healthy and in good spirits.

If you find the whole idea of taking your dog abroad a little daunting, you could always try one of the many pet transportation companies available. Experts in moving our pets from one destination to another, they will take care of the paperwork and transport your pet in style!

Our Superstar Enjoying the Flowers in Crete, Greece

While our beloved pooch is no longer with us, she collected more stamps in her doggie passport than most people manage in a lifetime, so don’t leave your dog at home next time you go on holiday – take him/her with you!

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31 thoughts on “Travelling with Pets – Tips on Taking your Dog Around the World

    • Hi Patricia, thanks for the tip! We used a similar service when living in South Africa, which was fantastic but unfortunately, where we live now there is no such service… Maybe I should start one up! ;-)

      • the service is worldwide. some housesitters are willing to travel. we will be using it in march and again in june and the people we are getting in march are from us and are currently living in panama (we are based in chile)

  1. My beloved dog traveled with me several times from the US to France and loved being here since he could go with me almost everywhere – he actually got a French “passport” before I did :) and wrote about his traveling by plane experience in my book, “Solitary Desire.” Thanks for visiting my blog, too.

  2. Love this post. We’ve been traveling with our Jack Russell Terrier for two years now, first through Europe and Turkey, currently in Mexico. It’s lovely having him along, and I’m glad to read a post encouraging international dog travel.

    If it’s OK to mention, I wrote an ebook explaining exactly how to fly a dog from the US or Canada to Europe (international regulations, required vaccinations, health certificates, microchips, airline policies, dog safety, trip planning, links for dog-import regulations for all countries in Europe, etc, etc.). It might help someone reading this post. The book is called “How to Fly Your Dog to Europe” and is available at http://flyyourdog.com/. :-)

    I’m very sorry to hear your dog passed away.

    • Hey Renee, thanks for stopping by! Your ebook sounds fantastic, I will definitely have a look and recommend it to our travelling friends. We would love to get another dog one day and quite fancy a Jack Russell – I grew up with one and love that such tiny dogs have huge attitude! :)

    • Hey Edgar! I know “pet friendly” hotels and accommodations are still limited in some countries… It’s getting better in Europe so hopefully it will spread across the globe! Happy Travels :)

  3. Great article, I hope you both enjoy travelling together :) Unfortunately, my little dog Barney suffers from some mental health disorders which is bad because I can’t take him with me when I travel and it’s really hard to find a good dog boarding for him. I saw some of them but I simply couldn’t leave him. Do you have some experience with this? Could you give me an advice? Well, I miss travelling but I would miss Barney more if something happened to him :(

    • Hi Anne!
      Thanks for getting in touch.
      Have you tried ‘Pet Sitters’? We used them quite a lot when we lived in SA, and they are perfect for pets like Barney who wouldn’t need to leave his own environment.
      They are different companies all over the world so there might be one in your region… Our pet sitters were perfect, they would move into our house for the week or two that we were away and looked after “baby” just like she was their own.
      We returned home to a happy pet and a clean house – good result all round! :-)

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