Air Travel with Pets

Aeroplane travel is not just becoming cheaper for humans, but for pets too! Because of this, more and more people are choosing to take their cats and dogs with them on holiday instead of leaving them in the care of kennels, neighbours, friends or relatives.

The advantages to this are simple: You get to share your foreign adventure with your best friend! However, air travel is of course strictly regulated, and there are a few things you need to do to prepare for your pet’s journey.

Planning ahead is essential to a smooth trip for both you and your pet, so research into the UK requirements for pet travel, as well as those of your destination country, are essential, but here is a little run-down of some of the basics:


You cat or dog needs to stay healthy while they are abroad, and as far as the immigration border control people are concerned, they need to keep the UK’s pet population free from exotic diseases. Because of this, the regulations on medical requirements for pet travel are strict, and ignoring them or cutting corners could result in your pet being put into quarantine on their return to the UK, or worse being sent back to your holiday destination without you!

You need to get a rabies vaccination for your pet. The UK has been pretty rabies free for quite some time, and part of this is due to vaccination. Make sure you get your pet vaccinated or have their existing vaccination boosted at least 21 days before they fly.

Dogs that have travelled outside of the European Union need to have been dewormed before they come back and may require a blood test before they re-enter the UK.

Once again, the medical requirements for various countries differ, so read up on their requirements and the documentation required for vaccinations before you book your flights, ensuring that you have enough time to get it all done ready for your pet’s flight.


Your pet must be microchipped in order to fly. Microchips are very affordable now and slip just under the skin of your pet, holding the details of their ownership to confirm their identity.

Pet Passport

A Pet Passport is also essential for taking your pet abroad. Thankfully this is often a little easier – You can request one from your vet. The Passport must contain your pet’s Date of Birth, Microchip number and implantation date, Rabies Vaccination Date, and rabies Vaccination expiry date. All of this information apart from their birth date should be readily available from your vet.

How Pet Travel Works

Unfortunately, all Commercial airlines require your pet to make the trip in the aircraft’s cargo hold – you can’t have your dog or cat sat on your knee while you sip the complimentary drinks from those cute tiny bottles…

This shouldn’t be anything to worry about if your cat or dog is already comfortable being crated for long periods of time. Some air travel companies really put the effort in, asking for the size dimensions of your pet and providing a custom sized crate for them to travel in safely.

Obviously, air travel can be a little stressful for your pet, but not for the same reasons as we humans sometimes get scared. Your pet doesn’t have the same concepts of mortality as we do, and the theory of flight can’t be explained to them. With no windows to look out of, the biggest thing that might wind them up is being in the crate and the sound and sensations of air travel – engines, landing gear going up and down and the odd bit of turbulence.

You can help your pet prepare by crate training them as much as possible before hand so they won’t get too upset when they are put in their new one for the flight.

Preparation, preparation, preparation.

This guide only handles the basics of the medical and administrative requirements needed to bring your pet on holiday and safely back again. The best course of action is to call your holiday operator with a pen and paper in hand and allow them to run through the check list of documentation you will need, and then speak with your vet to get it.

Otherwise, once the wheels hit the tarmac and the sun-tan lotion goes on, the only thing left to do is have a great time on holiday with your pet!

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