Are you thinking about traveling internationally with your dog soon?
Here’s my experience for your consideration.
My son-in-law is a Chaplain in the US Army, and transferred to Germany for three to six years. (The reason it might be six instead of three is because their oldest son will be in high school when their three years is up. The Army allows the families to stay put so that the child can graduate from his high school and not have to move in that all-important year. Decent of them, don’t you think?)
When they were transferred, they left their dog, a Weimaraner, with us until they could get settled. We shipped her once the family moved into their house. It is much cheaper to take your dog with you instead of sending him later as freight, but sometimes there is no choice. In searching for information on shipping dogs internationally,
Here’s what I found out.
After booking a flight, the dog needs to be at the airport up to 4 hours in advance of the flight. (That adds to the time the animal will be crated, so be sure and line the crate with piddle pads. Newspaper won’t cut it; it just isn’t absorbent enough. Really. Use puppy training pads and make your dog more comfortable.)
You’ll have to confirm that your pet is not tranquilized and won’t be used for fighting at its destination. No visible problems allowed, either, such as skin diseases or recent surgeries. If that describes your dog, be ready to be turned away. Airlines are forbidden to ship animals that show signs of preexisting conditions, illness, or recent surgeries.
If your dog is particularly large, you need to make sure that the airlines can accommodate the kennel size (more about kennels in a minute). Age is also a consideration, as you cannot ship a puppy less than eight weeks old (or ten weeks if the pup weighs less than a pound). State your dog’s age on the health certificate (more about health certificates to come).
The health certificate must be an international health certificate and must be dated within 10 days of the flight. A USDA certified veterinarian must sign off on it. In addition, check to see what is required at your point of destination, too. Some cities or countries have other requirements, such as licenses.
There are specific size requirements for the AITA-approved flight kennels. In general, your dog must be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down normally. The height of the kennel must be three inches taller than your dog’s ears. This may influence whether or not a specific airline can accommodate the crate. Be sure you have this right before you take your dog to the terminal!
The kennel must have adequate ventilation. Some airlines require ventilation on all four sides, and some only three. Secure the door (which must be easily opened for taking the animal out) with releasable cable ties so the crate does not come apart while being handled.
What you can ship with your dog.
No toys are permitted. The only things you can ship with your dog are 16oz or less of dog food, a leash and a collar. Securely fasten them outside the crate. There must be bowls for food and water secured to the door, which can be filled from outside the crate without opening it.
Affix the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the customer at origin and destination, as well as the name of the animal to the top of the kennel. This is a requirement you will want to make sure is accurate. A lost dog without a way to locate his owner is a terrible predicament.
Are properly sized orientation labels affixed to the kennel on at least 2 sides? The words “live animal” must appear on the top and at least 1 side of the kennel. Letters are required to be a minimum of 1 inch high. Food and water instructions must be posted on the top of the kennel with indication as to when the animal was last offered food and water. Water will be provided as needed. They will only feed once every 12 hours, provided the shipper sends food and it is accessible from the outside of the kennel.
For additional information regarding live animal acceptance and handling, refer to the IATA live animal regulations. You can also find this information in 9 CFR, subchapter A – Animal welfare or here.