Rachel is a stay-at-home pet mom, caring for her dog, cat, turtle, tortoise, and fish. She's a content writer in various niches but most notably in the pet field, educating pet parents on the health and wellbeing of their furry friends. When she's not writing, she's reading, playing video games, or organizing something.

Flying with Your Dog to South Africa – What You Need to Know

Rachel Poli Author
May 5 ·
flying with your dog to South Africa

Maybe you’re going on vacation or moving to South Africa. Or perhaps you’re going there for work. Either way, if you’re in the country for a while, it’s good to bring your furry friend. So here’s everything you need about flying with your dog to South Africa. 

First, Discuss Travel Plans With Your Dog’s Veterinarian

No matter why you want to bring your dog to South Africa, you’ll want to check with your vet first. Before you make any flight plans, you’ll want to ensure that your dog is physically and mentally prepared for flight.

Also, there are many different requirements you’ll need to meet to get your dog on board the plane and into South Africa. But, again, your vet will be able to help you meet those requirements.

In addition, your vet can assure you that it’s a good option for you and your furry friend to fly on an airplane and out of the country.

For instance, our vet can give them a good check-up to ensure they’re as healthy as they can be and can give them any shots or boosters they may need. In addition, they can help you get all the documents you’ll need to bring your dog with you.

Also, you can talk about your dog’s needs with your vet. For example, if your pup is prone to separation anxiety, you might decide to leave your dog behind with a trusted professional dog sitter or a family member.

On the other hand, if your dog has to go with you (maybe you’re moving or you’ll be in South Africa for a few months), your vet can discuss how best to prepare your dog for flight.

Finally, your vet can tell you the best ways to care for your dog before, during, and after the flight. 

Requirements To Get Your Dog Into South Africa

Your dog will need a lot of things to get into South Africa. Remember, every place and every airline is different with their requirements.

The first thing you’ll need to get for your pup is an import permit. Without a proper or valid import permit, your dog may be turned around and sent back home. Otherwise, they have the right to euthanize the dog.

The import permit needs to be signed and endorsed by a USDA APHIS veterinarian to be valid.

Also, the permit needs to be validated and filled out entirely within ten days of travel. After ten days, it’s no longer valid.

But what do you need to have an import permit or a pet passport?

Your pup will need the following requirements:

  • A microchip
  • Rabies vaccinations
  • Other vaccinations
  • Treatment for internal and external parasites
  • Blood tests
  • Dog license

For example, the vaccinations your pup will need are the following:

  • Bordetella
  • Hepatitis
  • Distemper
  • Leptospirosis
  • Kennel Cough
  • Parainfluenza
  • Parvovirus

If you’re bringing a puppy under three months old, they do not need to have the rabies vaccination. However, the mother needs to have the rabies vaccination within 30 days of travel.

Then, when the puppy is three months old, they need to get the rabies vaccination right away.

In addition, dogs need to pass a series of blood tests, such as:

  • Babesia Gibsoni
  • Brucella Canis
  • Dirofilaria Immitis
  • Leishmania
  • Trypanosoma Evansi

If your furry friend tests positive for any of these diseases, they will either be sent back home to their country or have to quarantine in South Africa for five days before getting tested again.  

How Your Dog Will Fly On The Airplane

When flying to South Africa, your dog must travel in the cargo hold unless they are a certified service animal.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), your pet might be more comfortable in the cargo hold. It’s dim and quiet, so if your pup has anxiety, it might be more soothing for them to be in there.

However, the airlines do not take responsibility for the care and wellbeing of your pet before, during, and after the flight. So, you’ll need to fly with your dog at your own risk.

The cargo hold might be more soothing for them, but separation anxiety could further stress them if they have separation anxiety.

Banned Dog Breeds In South Africa

Luckily, South Africa doesn’t ban any dog breeds. So, no matter what dog breed you have as a pet, you’re free to bring them to South Africa as long as they meet all the other requirements. 

Your Dog’s Comfort Comes First

Flying on an airplane is scary for most humans, let alone dogs who don’t understand what a plane is, how it works, or where they’re going.

For instance, they may feel safer and more comfortable in the cargo hold, but if your dog has separation anxiety or is afraid to try new things, the dark cargo hold (and being away from you) may stress them further.

You’ll want to work with your vet to ensure that your dog is fully prepared. 

So, here are some tips to ensure that your dog is prepared to fly:

  • Purchase plane tickets that have as few layovers and connections as possible
  • Choose arrival times to avoid extreme heat or cold
  • Train your dog to get used to their carrier
  • Discuss any anxiety needs with your vet beforehand
  • If your dog goes into the cabin, check in as late as possible
  • If your dog goes into the cargo hold, check in as early as possible
  • Walk your dog before your flight and immediately after arrival
  • Avoid food and drink a few hours before the flight

These tips will help reduce stress for your dog, and they’ll also keep them as healthy as possible.

Overall, you want to keep the flight as safe and positive as possible for your pup. First, however, you need to keep up with the country and state you’re entering and the airline’s requirements.

Should You Fly With Your Dog to South Africa?

If your dog is healthy enough and meets all the requirements, it’ll be a fun trip. South Africa doesn’t require as much as some other places, so bringing your furry friend along will be easy. 

Rachel Poli Author
Rachel is a stay-at-home pet mom, caring for her dog, cat, turtle, tortoise, and fish. She's a content writer in various niches but most notably in the pet field, educating pet parents on the health and wellbeing of their furry friends. When she's not writing, she's reading, playing video games, or organizing something.
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