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How to Travel Safely With Your Dog During a Pandemic

(Travel During Pandemic)     by Jeffrey Thompson   |Published 09-18-2020

Until December 2019, when scientists first identified Covid-19 in Wuhan, China, no one imagined themselves living through a pandemic. But it is now mid-2020, and the world is right in the midst of one that is still raging. The novel coronavirus has affected every country. It has brought about many changes with it.

A small dog is inside of a pet carrier looking out.

Face masks, sanitizers, gloves, PPEs, social distancing, lockdowns - these are words that have become majorly integrated into every aspect of our lives. One of those aspects is travel. Amid the pandemic, travel is no longer what it used to be. Whether it is regional, domestic, or international travel, you have to follow several rules and restrictions. And, traveling with your furry friends has become wrought with even more limitations now more than ever.

This article will attempt to explore how to travel with your pup during this crisis safely.  Dogs are adorable creatures, but small ones are precious. The nature of travel rules is now different. They have changed because of the pandemic.  

1. Air Travel

As convenient as air travel has become in the recent past, there are still regulations that pet owners will need to follow while traveling with their four-legged friends. Most airlines have a limited number of animals that can travel in the cabin or cargo hold, which has reduced even more now. Small dogs can travel with you in the cabin without fulfilling the requirement of being a guide dog.

It is entirely understandable how stressful traveling with your pets can be in the current situation. Research and preparedness will help.  

Below is a list of frequently asked questions about flying with your dog. 

Is it safe for your dog to travel right now?

A small number of dogs and cats have contracted Covid-19 after coming in close contact with an infected human. However, no evidence exists to suggest that dogs can transmit the virus to other dogs or humans. According to available data, animal fur, skin, or hair cannot hold on to a virus, which clings more to smooth surfaces. Therefore, it is safe for your dog to travel by air in terms of the ongoing pandemic. You need not worry about it so long as it does not come into close contact with an infected person. The possibility of close contact with anyone is almost nonexistent anyhow since it will be in a carrier.

Can your dog still travel with you in the cabin?

Your pup can travel with you in the cabin, provided you keep it in a container approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). It would also depend on the rules sanctioned by the airline you are traveling on and the country you plan to travel to. The crate should be a big enough size for your pet to stand or lie down in a natural position with ease, but small enough to fit in the space under the seat in front of you. It will not be possible for the crate to be as comfortable as a dog bed, but it will serve the purpose of taking your pet with you on your flight.

What documentation will you require for your pup to travel with you?

If your dog is going on an international trip with you, it will need to have a passport that includes information on its general health status, including tests and vaccinations. The passport will be useful for any travel, even if there is no mandate for it otherwise.

The document will contain test results such as those for the Fluorescent Antibody Virus Neutralization (FAVN) test), which tests for Rabies. The passport also needs to have the effects of the Coggins-test (Agar gel immunodiffusion-AGID) to ensure that your pet is safe from equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV), or the equine arteritis virus (EAV). These requirements will depend on the needs of your destination country. The treating veterinarian in your origin country will have to sign and endorse it.

Additionally, your pet will need to be eight weeks old or more and fully weaned, to be allowed to travel by air.

Should you test your pet for Covid-19 before the trip?

As of now, official bodies such as the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV), the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD), or even the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have not recommended Covid-19 tests for animals. But because scientists are grappling with a new virus that is still undergoing studies and research, things may change soon.

Public and animal health officials can carry out random tests on animals. These tests vary from Reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), Virus Isolation, or Neutralizing antibody.

In short, the same social distancing rules apply to humans and animals too. As difficult as it will be for people to resist petting your lovable four-legged companion, they will have to. If at all you feel your pet may have come into contact with an infected person, or if you have inadvertently broken social distancing rules for your pet, immediately take it to a doctor, just as a precaution.  

Will your pet require quarantine?

It is alright for you to pet your dog when you are under home quarantine if you show no symptoms. The only quarantine rules your pet will have to follow are Rabies quarantine rules. Presently, countries fall under three categories regarding rabies - Rabies free, Rabies controlled, and High Rabies.

Countries classify other countries under the above-given categories based on the latest data compiled by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIL). Accordingly, they put out guidelines corresponding to the category.

Delays and cancellations

Air travel involves delays and last-minute cancellations that make changes to your schedule. If you are traveling with your dog, it would be wise to make all arrangements for such scenarios in advance. Confirming that the flight is a direct one, giving yourself time to organize required documents for your pet, are matters that you should not forget. This preparedness will help you effectively handle any challenges that might arise on the trip.

2. Road Travel

A small dog is looking out the window of a moving car

Air travel is challenging not only on your snub-nosed pets; but on all animals. The changes in air pressure, dry air, an unfamiliar territory can cause your pet some discomfort and anxiety. But though road travel comes with fewer matters to deal with, you cannot just get in a car and drive off with your pet with no preparation made beforehand. Covid-19 has brought new guidelines and rules.   

The issues that you should preferably keep in mind for your pet's safety and comfort are not as exhaustive for road travel as they are for air travel. Some of them are- Some of them are-

  • To acclimatize your small dog to long trips, you could take it for rides, gradually increasing the distance with each ride.
  • Remember to harness your pet’s crate so that it does not slide off.
  • Whether the trip is within the state, interstate, or international, all health certificates should be available. In this case, as in air travel, all health documents will need endorsement by a veterinary doctor.
  • To reduce the risk of your pet getting hit by the car’s airbags in case of an impact, it is a good idea to keep it in the back seat.
  • Do not leave your pet alone in the car. Even though you might think that leaving it alone in the car will help prevent it from getting petted by people outside, it is wiser if the pet goes out of the car with you. Since its carrier is small, you could always take it out with you, if you feel that is a safer option than letting it walk on a leash.
  • Stock up on food and water supplies well in advance. Water is an essential item that must be kept in reasonable amounts in the car for the trip.

The important thing is to stay prepared. Keep yourself updated. You and your pet will undoubtedly have a good trip.

3. Ship Travel

Going on a sail with your little buddy is still not possible since cruises have not resumed service yet. 

4. Rail Travel

On June 15th, 2020, the European Union launched a web platform called Reopen EU. It provides current and relevant information to those who wish to travel across Europe. Since most land borders are presently closed, it is an essential guide to looking for information regarding country-specific rules and guidelines for the gradual lifting of lockdowns in different countries.

If you plan to travel across Europe with your pet, Re-Open EU is very informational and available in 24 languages.

A person is walking her pug on a leash


To survive the pandemic, you need to be on the lookout for the updated information. Follow the recommended precautions, and keep yourselves and your loved ones, including your pets, healthy so that you can fight the virus even if it does come into contact with you.

Author Bio

Jeffery Thompson is a full-time content marketing specialist. He has been closely following the pet, CBD and Cannabis industry trends for quite some time. He has dabbled in various domains before the cannabis industry. On his off days, he likes to spend his time at the nearest animal shelter or nose deep in a book.

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