Traveling outside the United States with your dog can be tricky -- but that doesn't mean it's impossible. You can have a lot of fun taking Pooch along on your next trip, as long as you plan things well in advance.
Each country has its own regulations when it comes to admitting dogs. Some countries require just a certificate of good health and proof of vaccination, while other countries, such as the Nordic ones -- Sweden and Norway -- have stricter quarantine rules unless your dog undergoes a blood test and a series of procedures, like microchipping, in advance. Some countries require an import permit for entry, which you'll have to obtained through an embassy or by contacting the quarantine office in your country of destination. In some cases, this preparation can take up to three months, so it might not be worth taking your dog along if you're planning on being there for just a few days or weeks.
Unless you are driving to Canada or Mexico, chances are your international travel will require some flying. As a first step, you will need an airline-approved carrier. If your dog is small -- usually under 8 or 10 pounds, depending on the airline -- you might be able to take him in the cabin with you. In that case, a small carrier that fits under the seat in front of you or in between your legs is a must. Larger dogs must fly under the plane, in which case they'll need a hard carrier with proper ventilation windows. Always talk to your airline in advance to ask about its requirements and regulations.
A comfy blanket or towels and a favorite toy will help ease anxiety and add comfort. Pack some of your dog's regular diet. You may or may not want to pack a large supply. Most major brands in America are available in other countries, but not every country has every kind of dog food available. You don't want to be switching foods in the middle of the trip, as this can cause tummy trouble. If you have to do that, you'll want to have enough of his regular food so the switch to the new food is gradual.
Finding Friendly Spots
Make sure you find out in advance just how dog-friendly your country of destination is. For example, countries like France and Italy allow dogs in outdoor cafes, have dog-friendly parks and plenty of hotels that will allow dogs. Other countries are different; you might find booking a hotel that allows dogs is a challenge in some places. Always research your destination in advance. At a minimum, you should locate a place to stay before you go as well as figure what nearby areas you can use to walk your dog.
If you have a toy dog who fits into a small carrier or purse, you might be able to use public transportation in some countries. For example, trains in Germany and the British Rail Network will accept dogs on board, although some might charge a small fee. Otherwise, your best option is to rent a car once you arrive at your destination.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.