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Walking Your Pet to New Destinations

What You Need to Know About Pet Vaccinations Before You Travel

Written by Pacific Pet Transporters on May 9, 2017

Are you preparing for international travel with your beloved pet? Perhaps you are wondering what you need to know to make sure your pet arrives healthy, happy, and meeting the requirements of the country you will be visiting or residing in soon? 

Since every nation has its own rules on transporting animals in from other regions, it’s important to understand what these rules are to ensure a safe and trouble-free trip.

Your local veterinarian may not be aware of all these regulations, so we have designed a helpful guide on everything you need to know about pet vaccinations before you travel.


When should I plan a visit to my pet’s veterinarian?

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that you schedule a visit with your pet’s veterinarian no later than six months prior to an anticipated trip. This is because some countries require proof of blood tests going back that far, or they may detain or quarantine your pet upon arrival. An example of a blood test falling under this requirement is proof of a rabies vaccination. You will need a full physical to ensure your pet is healthy enough for travel, along with microchipping and all the routine blood tests and vaccinations for your pet. Keep in mind that if your pet is being treated for a health condition, such as heartworms or Feline HIV, you can expect your pet to be held briefly for quarantine to verify the treatment is working.

What are the required vaccinations for pets before traveling?

For most dogs and cats, there are a series of vaccinations that are required before they can be approved for travel abroad. These include: rabies, distemper, and internal and external parasite treatments. However, some countries have other strict laws pertaining to the vaccinations required and the types of animals that are considered pets. For example, some countries do not recognize birds, reptiles, and rodents as pets, and may treat them differently. The United States Department of Agriculture has a searchable directory of each country’s requirements for pet vaccinations and diagnostic testing, including returning to the USA and traveling within the states.

What documents do I need to bring for my pet when traveling?

Just like humans need certain documents when traveling, so too do pets. In most cases, a health certificate or certificate of veterinary inspection will be the main document you will need to obtain for each pet traveling with you. Get this document at least six weeks ahead of any planned travel and check with the type of travel arrangements you have made to ensure you have things covered. Airlines, ships, trains, and other modes of transport will generally accept this document, along with a record of vaccinations, proof of microchipping, and pet license tags.

What happens if my pet gets ill during travel or while visiting a new country?

Many pet owners have concerns about vaccinations and maintaining the health of their pets while traveling. What do you do if they become ill during travel or once arriving in the new location? Pets can easily become stressed from traveling, especially during long periods of time cooped up in a crate and away from their humans. The International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) recommends that animals should not be sedated during trips because this can become fatal in certain conditions. The best course of action is to have a reference to a veterinarian in your new location and an appointment made for a checkup soon after arrival. If your pet becomes sick or injured in any way, seek immediate vet care.

The above guidelines are just to help you know what to expect as you travel with your family pet. Make sure you speak with a knowledgeable veterinarian as soon as possible to learn what vaccinations are up to date for your pet and what needs to be completed. Gather your pet’s paperwork and ensure their microchip identification is operational before you depart. You and your pet will soon be off to an exciting new adventure together.

We would be more than happy to assist with your pet travel needs. Contact us for more information on how we can assist you and your furry friend with your trip!

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Topics: Pet Care, Pet Travel