Bellevue Veterinary Hospital, Parksville

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Travelling With Your Pet

Planning Ahead

travelling petsSharing cross-border adventures with your pet can be fun and rewarding but there are a few things to consider before you start packing. Travelling overseas with Fido or Fluffy can mean a lot of official paperwork to be filled out by you and your veterinarian. Some countries have restrictions on which types and breeds of animals are eligible for entry so it's best to do your research ahead of time.

Depending on your destination, you might be fine with a regular Health Certificate from your veterinarian and proof of current vaccinations. Or you might require a Canadian International Health Certificate endorsed by an official government veterinarian, additional vaccines and vaccine titers, a microchip, and proof of flea and tick control. Some countries may require you to quarantine your pet for varying periods of time.

If your country of choice requires you to have a Canadian International Health Certificate then it MUST be printed on legal paper (8.5" x 14") or it will be rejected. All documents must be signed in blue ink.


The Government of Canada travel website is a great resource to start planning your trip. They strongly recommend you contact the embassy of your destination country before you finalize your travel plans. The foreign embassy will let you know the appropriate documentation they require to travel with your pet to their country. In some cases, getting your pet approved for travelling abroad can take up to six months so start planning early. You can visit the Government of Canada travel site at:

Even if your plans just include a quick hop across into the U.S. you will still need your pet's Rabies Certificate to be signed in blue ink by a veterinarian in order to make it an official document. If driving, keep all your pet's paperwork in the glove box and have it ready to show at the border. Chances are, you won't even be asked to show your pet's documentation but, if you don't have it with you, your pet can be denied entry back into Canada.

Airline Travel

On top of the above documentation you need to check with your airline to see if they have any special requirements for your pet to travel. Most airlines require an Airline Certificate as well as proof of vaccinations but may need further documentation.

Each airline has its own rules as to what type of crate you can use for your pet. Size, weight and material may differ from airline to airline. Always check with them long before travelling.

Certain airlines are more pet-friendly than others. Find out ahead of time if you can bring your pet right on the plane with you, if she will be allowed to travel in baggage or have to stay in cargo.

Please note that many airlines will not allow pets in the baggage section in extremely hot or cold weather. Short nosed (brachycephalic) dogs, who may be at risk of heat stroke and breathing issues, might not be permitted to travel in baggage. Some breeds that have been determined to be potentially aggressive may be denied travel or required to travel in special reinforced crates.


Your pet is a treasured member of the family and it's natural to want to take him with you on your adventures but think carefully if your trip is really going to be all that fun for him. If you're only going for a short trip then Fido might prefer to stay home with a family member, trusted pet sitter or a reputable kennel.

If leaving Mittens behind is not an option then start planning as far in advance as possible. Take your time to carefully review all the requirements for travelling to your country of choice. Make a checklist of all the paperwork and products your pet will need to go abroad. When you book your vet appointment, let them know which country you'll be travelling to, what the requirements are and have your embassy's forms already printed and ready to sign.

With a little preparation you and Fido can have a great time exploring the world together!