Fear of flying

Caroline from Ezri Dog shares her experience with the hassle of trying to bring a pet into the UK. After dealing with this a few times myself- it’s a nightmare! I have only this to say: Pay one of those services that will help you get organized, or commit to doing a ton of research. They are very, very particular. Thank you to Caroline for this great post and good luck to you both with the move!

In just 3 1/2 weeks, I have to put my puppy on a plane. In cargo.

Before we decided to get a dog last year, I knew there was a chance that one day we might head back to the UK from our current home of Vancouver – I wanted to ensure that if we did have to go, our dog would not have to go into quarantine. Not only is quarantine incredibly expensive (boarding, food, vets bills, and more), it is also highly stressful for both the owner and animal.

The UK has a scheme that allows dogs (and other animals) to be flown into the UK quarantine-free with the Pet Passport/Pets Travel Scheme from various qualifying countries around the world, Canada being one of them. There is a strict process to follow in order to get the PETS certificate to fly your dog.

The process

1. Micro-chipping by vet.

2. Vaccination against rabies.

3. A month later the blood sample taken from dog and tested at a lab in Kansas to ensure that the vaccine had given a satisfactory level of protection against rabies.

4. Wait for the results of the test. (I think we got the results about 6 weeks later)

5. Once you have the level of the vaccine certified, wait 6 months from the original date of the vaccine to be able to fly without quarantine. (NB. if you do fly before the 6 months are up, your dog has to stay in quarantine for the remainder of whatever time is left of the 6 months.)

7. Once that 6 months is up, ask your vet to fill in the first page of the Veterinary Certificate and then take the form out to the airport to be signed and stamped by the Government agency (along with all the original certificates of micro-chipping, vaccine, and blood test).

8. Book flight with either Air Canada or British Airways Cargo – maximum of 14 days before flight.

9. No more than 48 hours, no less than 24 hours before we fly, have your dog treated for ticks and tapeworms.

10. Feed only a small meal early on the day of the flight. Take your dog to the airport no more than 3 hours before the flight – having given plenty of time to use the “bathroom” beforehand.


When flying your dog in cargo, you must fly them in an airline-approved crate with good ventilation, enough room for the dog to turn around, and a food and water bowl that is accessible from the outside of the crate.

While we bought an airline approved crate, we didn’t receive live animal stickers or food bowls with ours. I found a great online store that specialises in Pet Airline Travel Kits, which provided us with everything we need.

We’ve kept our dog sleeping in her crate at night since she was a puppy. If your dog isn’t used to a crate, make sure you buy it well in advance of the flight and get your dog feeling comfortable spending time in the crate. Try feeding them in there, sprinkling treats in the crate or allowing them to have a favourite toy in there – anything to make them feel positively about their crate and future travel seat! I always feel great at night when our dog is tired and she takes herself off to her crate – letting us know she is ready for bed even if we aren’t. It is good to know her crate is a place of comfort for her.

Tip: For a few days before you fly, sleep on a sheet or in a shirt you can put in the crate for the flight so your dog has your comforting scent around them.


Having done a little research into the question of whether or not to sedate your dog prior to flying, we have decided not to. I read that 90% of dog deaths on planes were dogs who were sedated. Not only are you not able to see if your dog has an allergic reaction to the sedative, but dogs that are sedated become more rigid and are more likely to injure themselves as their body won’t shift and adjust with plane movements. Our vets have suggested we use a DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) spray, Lavender Oil, or Animal Rescue Remedy to help relax our dog. They have also suggested the use of Gravol which doesn’t sedate the dog, but does make them nice and sleepy. In their mind, sedation is only for a dog you know will 100% freak out being placed in a crate, or dogs with aggression issues.

So yes, in 3 1/2 weeks, I have to put my puppy on a plane. In cargo. I am sure that I will be more of a wreck than her – I am sure she will be scared at first, but then she will fall asleep, but it still makes me feel like the worse “Mum” in the world. I am just holding on to the thought that at the other end of the trip she has a fantastic family waiting to meet her, plenty of countryside to roam, and she will no longer be an apartment dog, but a house dog with her own back yard!


A few extra tips I’ve also picked up along the way:

For a few days before the flight and after arrival in the new country, give your dog bottled water to drink. One thing less to upset their stomach during this stressful time.

Ensure you have a list of vets for your destination country.

If you are staying for a long period make sure you look up pet insurance companies in that country.

If you can – use an online pet store to order the basics (food and water bowl, bed, toys) to be delivered to your new home or a friend or hotel at your destination. Make them feel at home as soon as possible.

Before introducing them to their new or temporary home, take them on a long walk to get rid of any excess energy saved up from the flight and allow them to settle into the new place more easily (even if the jet-lag is killing you – remember how long they have been in that crate for!).

Find out more information about the PETS Travel Scheme on the DEFRA website: http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel/pets/index.htm





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  • WOW, GREAT post! So informative and thorough. A couple of years ago my husband was considering a job opp overseas. Our #1 concern? Not our stuff, not the language, not the logistics, but our two cats and the process of getting them into the country. We didn’t end up going for a variety of reasons but the research I did at the time was so confusing and scary. You made it really helpful and clear here! Best of luck to you all! Your puppy will do just fine! 🙂

  • Steph B

    A friend of mine took her dog to the UK, where she was doing some work importing horses. The horses seem to think of the airplane as another, stranger version of a horse trailer, but the dogs liked it less. She prepped her pup not only to be happy and content in his crate, but to be happy in it while it was on top of the (turned on) clothes dryer. Apparently getting him used to the rattles and thumps the dryer made helped him a LOT with his return trip – he ate and drank normally, and wasn’t dehydrated at all when they landed! Good luck on your flight!

  • We moved to Hong Kong for a year with Davinia and Indiana and it is a quarantine country so everything had to be super precise about our paperwork nothing like the UK though.

    The girls were fine under the plane for the trip there and the trip back which is more then double the flight time to the UK. They were not sedated or given any medication other then Dramamine for car sickness for the way to the airport. I mixed in about a quarter pedialyte into their water to make sure they stayed hydrated and since we flew Cathay Pacific they were allowed to fly in a crate together.

    My biggest tip to you is to make sure your microchip is numbered properly for the UK. Even if you use the right brand they have several different numbering systems and you are better off realizing now and getting them rechipped in an environment they know and you trust then at Animal Control in the UK (trust me). Also find out if they will still vaccinate when you arrive before allowing your dog out of the airport facility. (I wish I know that they were going to instead of being in tears at the airport after an 18hour flight)

    Put lots of blankets in the crate and expect them to be wet from the water bumping around so you will probably want to throw them away or have a garbage bag to put them in until you can get somewhere to dry them.

    Feel free to email me if you have any questions twolittlecavaliers{@}gmail.com