Pack List for an International Dog Flight

A Dog Crate That Meets IATA Standards.

I fly my dog around the world. Between finding an affordable flight, organizing vet appointments and sifting through import paperwork, the last thing I want to worry about is if my dog crate is allowed or not. Some airlines are stricter than others. I bought a dog crate with all the bells and whistles that meets the requirements of every airline I have come across. You can check the IATA standards for dog crates here. I bought a sky kennel, and I am very satisfied with it.

Extra Copies of Paperwork

I cannot stress enough how important this is. Every airline is different, but Icelandair’s cargo division attaches the health certificate to the dog’s crate. Upon arrival in Paris, Zala’s health certificate was no longer attached to the crate. Although technically only the original can get your dog into the country, I thankfully had a copy and got my dog’s clearance to enter France.

A Cheap Dog Bed

Don’t put your $100 orthopedic dog bed in the your dog’s crate. After a 10-15 hour flight, you can’t blame a dog for getting bored or frustrated and chewing up their bed. If your dog has an accident, you want a dog bed you will have no hard feelings about throwing away. I have never had either of these incidents occur with my dog, yet. It is best to be prepared. I keep Zala’s Ruffwear Highlands Bed in my carry on luggage as a spare, just in case.

A Water Bowl

A collapsible water bowl is a good thing to keep on hand. Some airlines allow water dishes inside of your dogs crate, but you have no way of knowing if it will survive the flight. Zala destroyed one of her two dog dishes on her trip from Seattle to Paris. As soon as my dog gets out of customs, I pour her a drink. Usually our journey continues by train or a connecting flight so Zala has to recharge on the go. A collapsible bowl takes up very little space in my carry on luggage, and I can smash it into any pocket in my pack while I am hustling to catch my next train or flight. I carry a Ruffwear Collapsible Bowl everywhere I travel with my dog including restaurants, cafes, trains, car trips, and any hiking adventure.

A Leash

I never go to an airport with my dog in her crate. I keep her leashed and by my side until the moment I turn her over to oversized luggage.  Get a leash  with a loop handle to easily half hitch around a chair leg. A simple hack for easy tie up is to use a carabiner for fast clip and unclip. Zala and I have spent a lot of time lounging within and outside of terminals.

A Muzzle

Small dogs get a get out of jail free card on this topic, but big dogs should wear a muzzle inside airports and on public transportation. Big dogs scare a lot of people, and I believe I am able to walk Zala freely throughout airports because I muzzle her. This isn’t to say that when we find a nice place to sit I don’t take off her muzzle because I do. I simply don’t put security guards and officers in a position where they need to tell me to crate my dog. I don’t want to give the public a reason to file a complaint because this will only create more rules and restrictions for future pet travel. I use a simple mesh muzzle that slips on and off easily and can be crumpled in my pocket. Be careful, this style of muzzle does not allow a dog to pant and can cause overheating in hot climates. Invest in a basket cage muzzle if your dog will be wearing a muzzle for long periods of time or in hot climates.

Dog Food

If possible, pack enough dog food to mix and smoothly transition your dog into a new brand in your future country. It can be difficult to consistently use the same brand throughout the world. The one dog food brand I have seen consistently from the United States to Western Europe to Southeast Asia is Pedigree.

Favorite Toy

It may not seem important to you but in a dog’s world this is a big deal. A favorite toy from home has a calming effect on dog’s adjusting to a new home/country. Zala has taken her Extreme Kong across the world with her. It is the equivalent of a pacifier when she is anxious. I am a big fan of Kongs because they can be stuffed with goodies while you are away and provide some mental stimulation for your dog. I’ve even freezed things inside of it. Zala has been obsessively chewing on her black kong on a daily basis for two years, and it is still in one piece.

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Navigating Paris CDG Airport with a Dog

Paris CDG

Paris CDG

An entire book could be written on navigating the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. This article will map only the information I know from personal experience. The thought of finding your way with luggage, a crate, and a dog in tow can be a daunting prospect, especially if you are traveling solo, but Zala and I made it from Paris, France to Chiang Mai, Thailand and I’ll tell you how we did it.

It is best to prepare in advance and print out a map of the airport, you can find a basic layout map here. Zala and I arrived via the TGV train. In France, a dog ticket is half the price of your adult ticket, and dogs are required to be leashed and muzzled on the train. I have a 65lb Dutch Shepherd, and I have found that it is easiest to take a seat next to the luggage instead of my assigned seat if the train car (voiture) is crowded. Most trains to Paris are. My leashed dog walked alongside me from the train up until the moment I sent her away as luggage. Do not feel obliged to keep your dog in his/her crate while navigating around terminals and shuttles, you’ll only give yourself a headache and a backache.

The TGV train arrives between terminals 2D and 2F. If you feel like gambling and taking the train the morning before your flight, check online for any ongoing train strikes that may cause you unexpected delays. In my case, there were train strikes the days prior, and I chose to arrive in Paris the evening before my flight. There are numerous choices for hotels around the airport, but the cheapest option, actually within the airport, was Ibis Hotel.

To get to the Ibis Hotel, there is the CDGVAL shuttle that stops at all three terminals. From the TGV station, you need to take the lift up to the 4th floor. From there, simply follow the signs and take yet another lift. The Ibis and Hilton are located next to terminal 3. There is plenty of grass outside of terminal 3 and the Ibis Hotel for pet bathroom breaks. The pet fee for the Ibis Hotel was 5 Euros current as of March 2014.

AirFrance was our airline of choice this trip. AirFrance departures are located in terminal 2F. Going from terminal 3 to terminal 2F with a large dog crate, two duffle bags, and an excited dog took no longer than 20 minutes. A forewarning, trolleys are blocked from going on the lifts that go up and down to the CDGVAL shuttle. This leg of the journey will require extra time and manual lifting if you do not have help. After that, there are the long stretches of walking that the Paris CDG is famous for.

Individuals checking in with a dog will receive their boarding pass after they have paid and checked-in their dog, so don’t bother with the ticketing machines. Dog check-in should be done several hours in advance. My flight was at 1:50, and I checked my dog in at 11:00. To start, check your dog and any extra baggage in at the luggage counter. The attendant will inspect the cage, give you a waiver to sign, and put your baggage sticker on the crate. To my surprise, my dog’s health certificate was never checked. Afterwards, you will need to go to the ticketing office to pay for your dog’s fee (200euros to Thailand) and get your boarding pass printed. Finally, you will need to travel further down the terminal to #5 to drop off your oversized luggage dog.  It took well over an hour before she was actually crated and we said our goodbyes.

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After you have finished with the dog, it is your turn to go through the grueling process of customs. I will mention, yet again, how important it is to give yourself plenty of extra time. My gate was changed from terminal F to hall L. An entirely different hall with a lot of extra unplanned walking to get there! But if you do have extra time, terminal 2 has enough to keep you amused during your wait; including video games, wifi (first 15 minutes are free), and massages.

Upon boarding, there is a waiver to be handed to the stewardess. My boarding pass did not scan properly until I handed this waiver to her. This paper essentially said that my dog’s crate complied with the safety standards of AirFrance. After that, it was smooth flying on a direct flight, and my dog was waiting for me in Z3 oversized luggage at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. See my post on Suvarnabhumi Airport for information on collecting your dog, getting through customs, and catching another flight on a Thai airline.

Flying to Chiang Mai, Thailand

Flying to Chiang Mai, Thailand

Explore the Ancient Ruins of Pompeii with Your Dog

 Well preserved frescos, intact ancient building, and your dog can explore with you.

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Have more caution in the Southern region of Italy. There is more poverty in the south, and it is common knowledge among Italians that Naples is notorious for car theft. That does not mean you can’t have a fantastic time, just use caution.

Yes, your dog can accompany you inside the ancient ruins of Pompeii, but beware of the stray dogs roaming about.

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Stone pedestrian crossings, ancient wagon ruts, an ancient amphitheater, and the petrified remains of Pomeii’s inhabitants will keep you occupied for at least half the day so bring your good walking shoes and a bottle of water.

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There are a couple campgrounds, Zeus and Spartacus, directly across from the ruins at a reasonable price. Spartacus was the cheaper option for car camping. The showers had no hot water and the wifi was pay by the hour. Dogs were of course welcome.

Explore Venice with Your Dog

 Take your dog with you to Venice? No Problem

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The cheapest way to visit Venice is to book your accommodations outside of Venice. Zala and I chose to couchsurf in Mestre. It made for a fun Halloween and provided an excuse to buy one of those fabulous Venetian masks. Also, if you are able to ‘borrow’ a Venetian’s card; you will save money.

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Advice from someone who made the mistake. Do not drive to Venice. There is no reason for you to do it other than to spend extra money. You can not drive within Venice. Once you reach Venice, you must immediately find overpriced parking.

Taking the bus from Mestre to Venice is no problem with a dog. Slip on his/her muzzle and hop aboard. But be warned, the bus to Venice is usually packed tight with people. Make sure your dog is comfortable in this kind of situation. The train is also easily available for you and your dog for a higher price.

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As for water transportation, gondolas are for tourist with money to spend. Everyone else takes the water bus ‘Vaporetto’. Dogs ride free. Muzzles are required but are more of a courtesy. Zala loves riding the Vaporetto. There is more to Venice than the main island. Be sure to visit the other islets such as Murano and their amazing glasswork.

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Don’t bother using a map in Venice. It is a mess of tight alleys and never ending corners. The joy of Venice is getting wonderfully lost and finding amazing places. Trust me, you will find your way back no problem.

Take little doggy bags. Venice is rock and water. Patches of green are rarely seen.

Feel free to leave comments and questions. I will be happy to answer.

Travel Italy with Your Dog

 Italy may be the best place in the world to travel with your dog.

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Italians and Dogs

The French like dogs. Italians love dogs. I have gone to restaurants where Zala has been given packages of dog treats, cheesy pasta, ham, chocolates (without my consent), and pizza. Walking down the street I was always being stopped by Italians petting and loving on my dog. After one month in Italy, my dog believed her name was ‘Ciao Bella!’ (Hello Beautiful!).

On the Train

Trains accept dogs just as easily as France. I personally have only taken the train from Chambery, France to Milan, Italy. This ticket is a flat rate of 30Euros for your pet. I believe this holds true for all train travel in Italy. My passport was checked crossing the border, but Zala’s was not. Don’t forget your dog muzzle.

Bus

Take your dog on the bus and do so confidently. I did it in cities throughout Italy including Venice, Bologna, and Rome. People will appreciate you following the rules by putting a muzzle on your dog before you get on. I was thanked numerous times for doing this courtesy. Not everyone is comfortable with dogs, especially large ones.

Metro

I never took my dog on the Metro. I expect their dog restrictions are lax. Check online before you try.

Hotels

Many hotels do not post if they accept dogs and some only allow small dogs. E-mail or call anyways. Most hotels will accept large dogs even if their website does not say so. Most do not charge a fee either.

Restaurants and Shops

Unless it is a meat deli or grocery store, assume your dog can come inside. I got told off numerous occasions because I tied my dog outside and the owner or employee demanded I bring my dog inside because she ‘looks sad’. Please view my posts on specific Italian cities where I talk in detail of all the strange places that accepted my dog.

Churches, Museums, Ancient Buildings

No; except the ruins of Pompeii. Dogs are allowed there. See my post and photos on Pompeii.

Travel France with Your Dog

Traveling in France with you dog is accessible and fun.

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City Travel

Most cafes, stores, banks, and post offices allow dogs. Assume if there is no sign saying no dogs allowed, you and your furry friend can walk in. But it is always polite to ask first. Most cafes and restaurants will even serve your dog water before you. The French, as a whole, love dogs.

If a business does not allow pets, such as grocery stores and delis, there normally are hooks to tie your dog outside the store.

Metro and Bus

I personally have not traveled by bus or Metro in France. But I have in Italy, so be sure to check my post on the topic. Metros usually accept small dogs. I have seen individuals bring their large dog aboard with no issue. Most public transportation require your dog to be in a travel carrier or muzzled. It is the respectful thing to do, and those around you will be thankful you did. Show this small courtesy, and you will likely be greeted with smiles and winks.

Train

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This is the way to travel France and also Europe with a pet. TGV charges half the price of your ticket for your pet. You can buy your ticket online but not your dogs. Go to the station ticket counter and ask for a ticket for your furry friend. Your dog is required to be muzzled at all times. I’ve found this rule is rarely enforced. Your pet is also supposed to have a pet passport. In my one year of train travel not once was it checked.

Pet Passport

Although my dog’s passport was never checked, this is a requirement and a good thing to get for your pet upon arrival in Europe. Go to the vet and bring your international health certificate and rabies certificate with you. The process is painless and the passport is valid for the lifetime of your pet. In addition, the vet can give you paperwork to register you pet for that country.

Muzzles

You may have noticed I have mentioned muzzles several times. This is a very common requirement for pets allowed on public transportation. There are a lot of choices available, but I have found a simple mesh muzzle works best. They are cheap and can be purchased for under $10. You can slip it in your pant or coat pocket and easily slip it on and off your pet. Typically I put the muzzle on my dog when entering or leaving and take it off during the journey. Also, this kind of muzzle does not give your dog as intimidating of an appearance. This is important to me because I own a very striking Dutch Shepherd. A big metal cage muzzle makes her look like a killer.

Cautionary note: A tight mesh muzzle restricts panting. This is dangerous for a dog during high temperatures. Always put your dog’s health first.

5 Tips for International Pet Travel

 Traveling for the first time is intimidating. Traveling for the first time with a pet can be daunting. It is important to know how to sift through information and not get misled by the poor information spread throughout the net.

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1) Do yourself a favor and get your dog microchipped NOW. The only vaccinations that count on your dog’s health certificate are the ones given after your dog is microchipped.

2) Get your dog vaccinated for rabies directly after he/she gets her microchip. The bare minimum of every country around the world is a rabies vaccination and microchip. In general, it is a 21 day wait after the vaccine was given before your dog can travel out of the country.

3) Buy a dog crate that meets airline standards. Some airlines are stricter than others. Sky Kennels by Petmate meet the standards of essentially all airlines. Their crates also include all the stickers and accessories you may ever need. Buy it for your dog now so they can sleep and adapt to their crate.

4) Check the embassy/consulate page of your destination country for pet requirements. Double check this information with your destination country’s Department of Livestock. Like mentioned above, only let other websites serve as general guides. Much of the information given is not exact and rules change often.

5) Check the cost of your pet’s ticket BEFORE you buy your airline ticket. Just because the airline accepts pets, it does not mean you can afford their price. Know if your pet will fly as cabin baggage, checked baggage, or cargo. Please see my post on International Dog Flights for more information.

If you do this prep work before you start planning trip dates, you will save yourself time and a headache.

Also see my post on cheap dog friendly airlines.

Feel free to comment below with questions. I will be happy to answer.

International Dog Flights

 Flying around the world with a dog can get complicated and expensive. I am going to break it down.

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Who Can Fly?

If you have a snub nosed breed, you are going to have a more difficult time finding an airline than most dog owners. Breeds known to have breathing problems are a higher liability. Don’t let this dishearten you. You will simply have to put an extra effort into finding the right airline.

Some countries prohibit ‘dangerous’ breeds, therefore, airlines may not fly your breed of dog to certain countries. These lists usually include Mastiff and Bully breeds. Sad but true. I’ve never seen any Shepherd breed put on these lists.

In addition, pregnant, sick, or injured dogs are not generally not allowed. Some airlines have age restrictions if you are flying your puppy.

Cabin, Checked, Cargo

First, determine if your dog can fly as cabin baggage, checked baggage, or cargo. Rule of thumb, the price goes up as you go down the list. Unless you can prove your dog is a service dog, you have a doctor’s note or your dog is purse sized; let go of the hope your dog can ride in the airplane cabin with you.

Some airlines accept pets as checked baggage. Check before you buy your ticket. Certain airplanes can carry pets and some cannot. When you find the ticket you want to buy, write down the plane number and make a phone call to the airline inquiring about that specific plane to be sure. In general, the cut off weight for dogs as checked baggage is 32kg(70lbs) combined weight of your crate and dog. There are a few airlines that will allow pets to count as checked baggage and fly free but not many. Everything else gets put into cargo. Count on this costing the most. This is usually calculated by distance x weight. Many airlines then double or triple this price if it is a live animal.

Also be aware, some airlines have time and/or temperature restrictions. They will only fly your pet for so many hours and if the temperature raises to a certain point that day they will not accept your pet. Ask if they have these restrictions before you buy your ticket.

On the bright side, there are airlines such as KLM that have flat rates for pets. I have found when flying a large dog these airlines are the best option. I have posted a growing list of personal reviews and research of airlines for cargo sized dogs.

Also see my 5 Tips for International Pet Travel