Globally, most countries have removed all their lockdown restrictions and are moving towards opening the countries to pre-COVID times. With the holiday season around the corner, many of us are planning to travel again; take that long-overdue holiday with families. For pet parents, taking their pets along may seem like a more appealing alternative to leaving them behind with a friend or sitter. For starters, traveling with dogs is definitely more complicated and more expensive than flying pet-free but it can be done with careful planning. Here are some trip tips to make traveling with your dog enjoyable.
Flying is an incredibly stressful experience for dogs, especially for young pups and elderly dogs with health challenges. Flying removes pets from the surroundings they are most comfortable and familiar with, and forces them into a situation with loud noises, big crowds, changes in air pressure and temperature, and limited access to places where they can use the bathroom. If they must fly in the cargo hold, they will be away from you in a strange, scary environment.
Bring your dog to the veterinarian for a checkup before going on an extended trip. Make sure he is in proper mental and physical shape to travel.
Travel documents to prep
The Singapore AVS website is an excellent source of information when it comes to prepping for your pet’s travel documents. You are required to fulfill certain requirements when bringing your dogs (or cats) out of Singapore. Here are the requirements outlined by AVS. Please follow the guide closely to apply for the export license and other necessary documentation prior to traveling.
Do not forget to check the destination country’s import requirements. Every country has a different set of requirements. Some countries may need your dog to undergo certain vaccinations and laboratory tests before he can enter the country. Depending on the country’s regulations, some may require that your dog be quarantined for a certain period while quarantine may not be necessary for others. Please check the import requirements of your destination country. The last thing we want is to have fido turned away and denied entry to the country.
Check airlines requirements
If you’re traveling from Singapore, you have a range of pet-friendly airlines to choose from. Most budget airlines do not allow pets onboard unless it is a Guide dog. Take note that all airlines have their own rules and regulations. Airlines policies do differ tremendously and are subject to change. Do not assume that last year’s requirements will remain unchanged. Please check the policy prior to booking.
Singapore Airlines is pet-friendly and accepts pets on board, whether as checked baggage or in cargo. You can get more information on their website and do reach out to them if you have further concerns or questions.
Get a travel crate
A crate is required for airline travel. Crates are available from most pet supply stores but when flying, the design and construction of the crate must conform to IATA standards. Here’s the travel crate that has the IATA air travel approval - Stefanplast Gulliver 5 IATA Approved Dog Carrier (Medium, Wheels Excluded).
On top of the IATA standards, individual airlines may have their own requirements. For example, Singapore Airlines has made it clear that the maximum height of the container depends on the aircraft in which your pet will be traveling: 70cm on A350 aircraft, 60cm on A380 aircraft, 101cm on B777 aircraft, and 111cm on B787 aircraft. Please check with the individual airlines.
For the safety and comfort of your dog, look for these features when choosing the crate.
- Large enough to allow your pup to stand and turn normally. Your pup must be able to sit erect and lie down comfortably.
- Solid, leak-proof bottom.
- Four ventilation openings on four sides.
- Come with food and water containers.
- Handling spacer bars/handles must be provided along the middle of both long sides of the container.
- All inside edges of the kennel must be smooth or rounded. There must be no sharp projections, such as nails, upon which your pet can injure himself.
- A place to put a tag with your name, address, and phone number.
You can stock the crate with a comfortable mat, your dog’s favorite toy, and blanket. For dogs who must travel separately in the cargo, giving them a piece of their owners’ clothing can help to calm them. Dogs prefer to sleep on items that smell familiar, and the scent of their favourite human is always welcoming. If necessary, get the ADAPTIL Calm On-the-Go (For Anxiety) Dog Collar for dogs prone to separation anxiety. The collar is activated by body heat to release a calming pheromone that helps to keep the dog calm indoors and outdoors. It is especially useful when crating, traveling, and boarding a dog prone to anxiety.
Plan for emergencies
To keep your dog healthy as you travel, bring along a supply of his regular food and a collapsible feeding bowl like this Sputnik Collapsible (Nude) Travel Dog Bowl. You may not want to bring his regular feeding bowl along as it may take up too much luggage space. Don’t forget to bring his favourite treats and any medications he needs. It is best not to change his food and treats when you are traveling. A different diet, coupled with the stress of long-haul traveling may lead to tummy upset.
Find the number of the nearest 24-hour veterinary emergency hospital at your travel destination, and program it into your mobile phone, along with the number for your regular veterinarian at home (in case the veterinarians need to speak with each other). That way, if there’s a situation where your dog needs medical attention, you are prepared with the necessary information on hand.
Be mindful of the weather at your destination. Most dogs have enough fur to keep them warm in cold weather. However, if you have a very small dog or a short-haired breed like a Chihuahua, or a breed that is originally from a warm climate, they may need cold weather wear.
Other handy items that you’ll want to pack for your pup:
- Poop bags to pick up their 'Hazardogs waste'. Here’s an eco-friendly, biodegradable poop bag - FuzzYard Poop Bags W/ Handles Orange Scented For Dogs.
- Towel and wet wipes for a quick clean-up whenever necessary. Try the Honey Care Disinfectant Wipes For Dogs (With Silver Ions). It contains silver ions as a natural disinfectant. The silver ions effectively remove bacteria but is gentle on your pup’s skin and paws.
- Leash, harness, and collar with updated ID tags.
- Pet first aid kit. This can be helpful if your holiday includes various outdoor adventures.
- Pet carrier or doggy seat belt, if necessary. Depending on your holiday destination and itinerary, some countries require that dogs be restrained by a seat belt, dog car harness, or pet carrier when in the car.
Whether your pet flew in cargo or the cabin, take your dog for a walk right away and be sure to give them lots of praise, treats, or whatever other positive reinforcement rewards he loves. A layover is a good time for both you and your pup to stretch your legs. If you have a layover and your pup is with you in the cabin, do take him to the relief area in the airport.
Remember that traveling can be stressful, but a calm owner usually has a calm pet. Our dogs pick up on our stress, so if you’re nervous or anxious, your dog may show signs of stress and anxiety too. Finally, don’t forget that some dogs don’t enjoy traveling, and if this is the case, your dog may prefer to stay home with his sitter.
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.