People say that you can’t buy love… until you buy a dog. These little, and sometimes not so little, creatures love their owners unconditionally, and when we have to travel somewhere, we are inevitably faced with an important question – what should I do with my dog? While there are options such as leaving your furry baby with your friends or relatives, or renting a puppy hotel suite for them, sometimes this option is not available. There are people whose job requires frequent travels, others move countries, while there are also world travellers, who decided to take their pet everywhere they themselves go. While travelling with a pup might seem like no big deal, you will face certain challenges along the way. Here are the top tips on what you need to know, to travel with a tiny dog.

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First things first: research about your destination – some countries, like Maldives, don’t allow dogs to be imported at all! While others, like Australia, Hong Kong, UAE and UK might require for your pet to be kept in quarantine. A situation where your pet is detained on the border and kept for an extended period of time in quarantine is far from ideal. Even though travelling with a tiny dog may be limiting, in that you can’t visit some places, the world is big and you can choose your destination accordingly.

The next step, after you have decided where you will travel to, is finding out that country’s requirements for pet import. Start from the international arrival airport’s website and search for their veterinary/ pet quarantine station. Once you find a contact email or telephone, make sure you do contact them, asking for the updated information as to what you kind of documents they require. Some countries, like Thailand and Philippines, need to issue an import permit, which you must apply for in advance, at least 3 weeks prior to travel. Though getting the permit is easy, you must plan ahead. If there is no information on the Internet that answers your question, you may alternatively contact the consulate of that country and ask them – they will usually have information. Another option is to try to find the destination country’s Ministry of Agriculture’s website and search there.

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The following step is finding an airline that allows pets in cabin. Because here we are looking at specific travel with a small dog, up to 15lbs, together with the kennel, it is important to remember that you don’t want to check your furry pup as baggage. Not only can you not control the way in which it will be handled, but you will probably spend the whole flight worrying about how your pet is. The best option remains to take the pet in the cabin with you. The best thing to do is search on Kayak, Skyscanner, Expedia or any other flight search engine you are using for the available flights to your desired destination and then from there look at each airline’s pet policy individually.

Once you have found the airline company that you wish to fly with that allows pets in cabin, you then have to book your flight. We recommend calling the airline directly, making a provisional booking, where you will ask for the option to carry your pet on board with you. This will give the airline staff the opportunity to either confirm or decline your request, so you don’t lose money by booking directly. Sometimes you will have to wait a couple of days, while other times, you will get an answer within a few hours. After your request has been confirmed, you can pay for your booking and confirm it.

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Depending on where you are travelling, make all the paperwork within the required days – some countries accept health certificates issued by a State-approved vet 10 days before your travel date, others – 3 days before. The basic checklist for your pet will include – Rabies vaccination, that was made not less than 30 days and not more than 12 months before departure date, an international passport, up-to-date vaccinations, such as distemper, parvo, hepatitis, bronchitis, leptospirosis, etc. and an ISO standard 11785 microchip. Your vet, as well as the consulate, or vet station of the destination country can give you full information on what you need to do and what the requirements are. Remember that usually a health certificate issued by the vet will not suffice, as you need to have a stamp from the official veterinary station, usually these are located close to the airports.

2 days prior to travel, you should already have all the required documents for your pet. Don’t forget to train them to their kennel, so they can feel comfortable in there. Place their favourite blankie, toy and a dry treat in the kennel, so they start to like it. On the day of the departure, make sure that you exercise with your pup before leaving, that they do all their business and are ready to travel. Some travellers suggest that taking a red-eye flight suits them best, as this is the usual time when the dog is sleeping anyway. Make sure that you take an air-tight container for water and a small bag filled with their dry biscuits and a couple of treats.

Once you pass airport security and check-in on your flight, you can take your pet out of the kennel and walk with them – take them to the bathroom and play with them, so they don’t feel lonely. Remember that airlines don’t allow for you to take the dog out of the kennel, so once you set it under the seat in front of you, that’s where it will stay. Keep in mind the temperature on board, and if it gets cold, place the blankie on top of the kennel – as this will create a safe, warm, night-time environment for your pup, who will most likely sleep throughout the flight. If they start crying, let them know that you are there, quietly talk to them, even give them a little treat.

Happy Travels!