Travelling Overseas with Your Pet

Travelling or moving overseas can be a significant undertaking, especially if you are bringing a pet. There is a potential risk of disease or parasite transmission, and strict rules are in place for the importation and exportation of pets.

Many diseases may be endemic (or found in) one country or geographical location, but not in others. A prime example of this is the rabies virus. In Canada, and throughout North/South America/Asia/Africa, the rabies virus has been ever-present with infrequent cases in both animals and humans. However, in other countries (e.g. the United Kingdom/Australia/New Zealand) rabies is virtually non-existent. As well, some species of ticks may be found in one part of the world and not in others and could be spread by the travel of domestic animals.

If you are moving overseas with your pet(s), it is most important to review the import regulations at least 6-12 months in advance. Generally, a pet must first have a permanent means of identification in place (a microchip), be up to date for their rabies immunization, and then have the export paperwork completed by your veterinarian and endorsed by the government agency veterinarian (Canadian Food Inspection Agency). Some countries (such as Australia and New Zealand), have very strict regulations in place for importing a pet, and usually, still, require a minimum 30-day quarantine. These regulations include an official rabies immunization titre, flea/tick treatments, deworming for parasites, and specific disease testing in dogs (for leptospirosis and leishmaniasis). Will all this being said, it is not a surprise that exporting your pet can become very costly.

Although the plane ride can be a bit stressful for your pet, it is generally not recommended to use sedation for travel. As well, one must consider that there may be travel restrictions for pets during certain times of the year (hot weather, holidays). There are actually companies that specialize in pet transport which can help you through the process, and with their experience, likely avoid any “hiccups” that may arise.

With proper planning and proper understanding of the importation requirements, this process should be fairly straight-forward for you and your pet.

If you have any questions, please give us a call at 613-544-7387.

Written by: Dr. Cameron Morrison, DVM