Flying with Your Dog to the UK – What You Need to Know
So, you adopted a new furry friend out of your country and need to bring them home. Or maybe you’ve decided to go on vacation to the United Kingdom and would like to bring your dog with you. No matter your reason, let’s talk about everything you need to know when it comes to flying with your dog to the UK.
Your Doggo Needs a Passport
Humans need a passport to leave their country. Believe it or not, dogs need a passport if you want them to enter the EU.
An EU dog passport is created by an authorized veterinarian that practices in the EU. If the dog has a valid EU passport, they do not need a medical exam to get back into the country.
On the other hand, if your dog’s passport has expired, they need to be checked out by a vet before leaving. An accredited vet can then update the passport.
This ensures the dog is healthy and won’t bring any unwanted diseases into the UK. For example, if the dog has tapeworm, they need to be treated for it at least one to five days before boarding the plane.
If your dog has an EU passport, then there’s nothing to worry about on that front. However, if they don’t have a passport, there are a few things you’ll need to do.
What to Do If Your Dog Doesn’t Have an EU Passport
First, your dog needs to be identifiable with a microchip. If they don’t have a microchip, then you’ll want to get them one through your vet.
The microchip needs to be ISO compliant. So, if your dog doesn’t have that, you’ll need to contact vets at your destination for a microchip reading upon arrival.
Next, your dog needs to have the rabies vaccination. If they do not have that, they won’t be allowed into the country.
On the other hand, if the dog is under 15 weeks old, some places will not allow the puppy to enter. Also, they need to have their rabies shot within 21 days of entering the UK.
If your dog didn’t already have the rabies shot, then you need to wait at least 21 days before leaving. This will ensure that the vaccine is in your dog’s system upon arrival at your destination.
Next, you’ll need to have the appropriate health documents. Then, finally, a USDA Accredited Veterinarian needs to complete and sign the health documents so your dog has access to the UK.
There are two different health documents to be aware of: a non-commercial certificate and a commercial one.
The major difference between these two health documents is the number of dogs traveling and when they’ll arrive before their owner.
For example, the non-commercial health document is for five or fewer pets traveling within five days of their owner’s arrival.
On the other hand, the commercial health certification is for any number of pets that travel more than five days before or after their owner.
Once those health documents are all set, you’ll need to get the APHIS to endorse them.
Finally, if needed, get your dog treated for tapeworm. Once your dog gets cleared for tapeworm, and you have everything you need for the passport (if you don’t already have one), then you’ll be able to fly with your dog to the UK.
Remember to Talk to Your Dog’s Veterinarian
As you figure out the passport, you should already contact your dog’s vet. However, there are other things you’ll want to discuss with your vet before leaving the country and heading into the UK.
For instance, the vet will help you decide if flying is the right option for your dog.
If your dog is healthy enough, then your vet can ensure they’re up to date on their vaccinations to meet the airline requirements and safely be allowed into the UK.
Call your vet and tell them that you and your dog will be traveling internationally. Every country has different requirements for what they allow, so you and your vet can prepare for this together.
For example, your dog may need the following:
- An EU passport
- Blood tests
- Health certificates
- Microchips (for identification)
Remember, some of these requirements may change from time to time. They may vary depending on travel restrictions for diseases from humans or dogs.
Check the Requirements for Different Airlines
As soon as you get the dog checked out at the vet and you know they’re healthy and ready for travel, there are a few more things you need to do.
For example, you need to decide which airline to travel with. Every airline has different requirements when it comes to carrying pets on board.
So, you’ll want to choose one that you think will work best for you and your furry friend.
Should You Keep Your Dog in the Cabin or the Cargo Hold?
There is no right or wrong way for your pet to travel. You’ll want to choose something that’s best for your dog’s needs. However, depending on its size, the dog will go into the cargo hold.
For example, some airlines allow small dogs to stay with you in the cabin. However, they must be in an airplane-safe carrier, and you are responsible for the dog’s care during the flight.
Medium dogs and large dog breeds, on the other hand, might have to go into the cargo hold. This is mostly because the dog won’t fit in the cabin with you and the other passengers.
It may seem odd to have a live animal in the cargo hold. However, according to the International Air Transport Association, dogs may travel better in the cargo hold. The area is well-ventilated, dark, and quiet. So, it may be less stressful for your dog. They might also be more comfortable being alone in their kennel.
Regardless of how your dog travels on the plane, you are 100% responsible for your dog during the flight. If you have a layover or a connecting flight, you’ll need to care for your dog.
This includes bringing them out to go the bathroom, stretch their legs, or have a water break. Then, you need to get them back into their carrier and onboard in time for the next flight.
Unfortunately, accidents happen, and some dogs have died while in flight. The airlines take no responsibility for this, so you’ll need to fly with your dog at your own risk.
Finally, your dog may travel in the cargo hold on a separate flight that only flies cargo. If this is the case, then you’ll need to discuss food and water with your veterinarian, depending on how long the flight is. Your dog won’t be able to eat or drink during the flight.
Also, you’ll need to arrange a time to drop off and pick up your dog once the airplanes land at the final destination.
Keep in mind that most airlines do not allow pets to travel by flight between May and September. So, you won’t be bringing your pup home or bringing them on summer vacation.
These months are the hottest of the year for the Northern Hemisphere, it may not be safe for the dog to travel. They could overheat and either get sick or possibly die.
Your Dog’s Comfort and Safety is Priority
No matter where your dog travels on the airplane, you want to make sure they’re mentally prepared for the flight.
It’s one thing to ensure they meet all the requirements to board the airplane and get into a foreign country. However, it’s entirely another situation to ensure your dog is mentally (and physically) prepared for flight.
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 out further.
So, here are some tips to prepare your dog to fly:
- Avoid giving your dog food and drink a few hours before the flight
- Choose travel times that avoid extreme temperatures
- Discuss anxiety needs for your dog with the vet beforehand
- If your dog flies in the cabin with you, check in as late as possible
- If your dog flies in the cargo hold, check in as early as possible
- Purchase plane tickets that have as few layovers and connections as possible
- Train your dog to be in their carrier comfortably
- Walk your dog before your flight and immediately after arrival
Overall, you want to aim 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?
Depending on your needs and the dog’s needs, then yes. If your pup meets all the requirements and is healthy, they can undoubtedly fly with you on an airplane, no problem. However, it’s best to discuss the possibility with your vet before making any plans.