As it so happens and the Two Queens have also a Little Price as part of the family, we see it important to tell you a bit of relocating to another country with your beloved pet.
We finally arrived to Dublin with Mika, our miniature poodle, and as everything didn’t go as planned we thought it might be better to share some of the experiences for you to be aware of.
The difficulties we had, were mostly those of hands-on kind and had to do with airlines and the arrival procedures in Dublin, as there seems to be a bit of confusion if your pet travels as a “luggage” or as “air freight”, which are two completely different things even if the pet travels on the same flight with you.
We have previous experiences with the quirkiness of the British Isles and bringing your four-legged family member there to live with you, as we have lived in Ireland before. Back in 2014 the procedures were stricter than now, but still some of the things managed to caught us by surprise. So, do your groundwork well prior travelling!
We have divided this information in three parts, so that it is easier to read. Enjoy.
Before the trip
1) Check from the correct authority, and from their official website the rules and regulations concerning the pet. Do not use those “we will transport your pet cheaply” sites for any official information. This information includes, but is not limited to, current rulings on vaccinations. Pay heed to the time frame of the vaccinations, count the days with your fingers if need be but make sure that all the necessary boosters and deworming is performed within the time they say. Travelling within the EU is relatively easy, but there still are countries that require special vaccinations for pets coming from certain countries.
And whilst you are at the vet, remember the Pet Passport! You need to make sure that the passport fulfills the requirements of the destination country. For instance, Ireland requires the pets from EU area to have an EU Pet Passport. Mika has his Malaysian Pet Passport, and now also the EU Pet Passport.
2) If your pet requires a health check-up, use the correct vet with the authority to issue that check-up. In Finland, the correct authority is usually the city authorised vet, no one else.
3) Before booking your tickets, verify with the carrier that they carry your pet to the destination country as a hand carry or as luggage! It was a bit of a shock when our trusted carrier, Lufthansa, replied that they don’t carry pets to Ireland unless they are shipped as cargo. Time to alter our well-thought plans and resort to Finnair, which cost us more what we had budgeted in the beginning.
4) When you are ready to make a booking, I recommend that you first verify from the carrier that there is space for the dog to travel on the same flight(s), and have the measurements of your dog, and the box he is going to be travelling in with you, as this is something the carrier is very interested in. The measurements include the total weight of the dog and the box. We didn’t physically have the travel box when we made the final booking, but as we had reserved one from a Facebook group, we knew the weight and the measurements of it already.
5) When you are in the process of choosing the travel box to your pet, keep in the mind the IATA rules governing the quality and measurements of the travel box. These rules are those rules that the air carriers are using when deciding if your pet will travel or not.
If you want, you can bring your pet to the airport in a cardboard box but there is no guarantee at all that the pet will be allowed into the flight with you if the box doesn’t fulfill the requirements of the IATA and the air carrier.
6) Purchase the travel box as soon as possible before the travel date so that your pet can get accustomed to his new quarters slowly and relaxedly. You could do nothing worse than force him into the new (or second-hand) box two minutes before you are due to depart and then spend years telling people that “my pet doesn’t like travelling at all.”
If you are using a second-hand box, wash it thoroughly. Cats and dogs are notorious for having an acute sense of smell. Even though you wouldn’t smell a thing, they could pick up a scent of a frightened previous owner and start to fret because of that.
Even before the trip, decorate the box with familiar things for the pet. A t-shirt smelling of his humans, his own comfy bed, and some of his favourite toys. Having a food dish and a drink cup/bottle are mandatory requirements, especially for longer flights, but we have always provided our pets with these regardless of the distance and duration of the trip. And as always, it is better to provide a little bit extra, so that you don’t get stopped at the airport by an officer who starts to wonder where is your pets drink bottle for the flight.
7) As a final preparation with the travel box – remember to put enough information on top of the box – including your contact details and emergency contact numbers.
When attaching the information on the box itself, make sure that the papers are protected from moisture and water, especially if you are using an inkjet printer to print out the information.
During the Trip
1) Remember the Pet Passport! This is something that cannot be stressed enough. First you need to make sure that your pet has one, and then you need to carry it with you as you would your own passport for the travel.
2) Calm him down. We have noticed that the 100% lavender essential oil (no synthetic things, please) works like a charm when it comes to making our dog to calm down and to sleep. It seems to work when we are at home, travelling, staying over at friends, and so on.
We rub 1-2 drops to his fur (not near eyes, ears, and nose!) about 15-30 minutes prior to departure to the airport, and at the same time drop around 5 drops inside the travel box.
Of course there are pheromone products to calm your little travel buddy down, but we didn’t need to go there. But this, as so many other things, must be down to your pet’s preferences.
3) Have enough time. Take your time to go to the airport. If you are running late and are stressed, your pet will pick it up. It’s just like with children. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 8.20 in the morning, and I was at the check-in already at 6.30 in the morning, just to be sure that everything would go smooth and that there would be that bit of extra time to figure out things that were needed.
The check-in process in itself was quite fast, but then we had to wait for the security officer to check out the box and what there was inside. This took time, and only after that Mika was allowed inside his travel box.
4) Ask. The airline and airport staff are there for you. If, and when, you are wondering if everything is ok with your pet, you can ask the gate staff that he has been loaded into the aircraft, and that the crew onboard knows that there is a pet travelling in the cargo hold.
5) Make sure where to pick your pet up at the destination. This is something I didn’t do before arrival to Dublin, as always before they have delivered our pet at the luggage hall.
In Dublin? No. I had to walk all the way to Swissport Cargo Terminal (about 10 minutes walk) and with all the relocation boxes and bags this was quite unwelcome surprise. And to top it up, on the way back I had a big pet travel box with everything else stacked on the luggage trolley.
Arrived At Last
1) Let your pet rest after arriving to his new pad. Like humans, he might not look extremely tired, but travel always takes its toll.
Our Mika wasn’t overly stressed about the flight, and he seemed to be more keen on sniffing around and going for walkies the second he got off from the travel box, but when it came for the nap time, he was very keen on sleeping as close to us as possible – even though he usually finds a cool place in some corner.
2) Take your pet to see a vet if this is required by the country. Usually this information is available in the same governmental website where you got the information about the required vaccinations.
3) Pay the Dog Tax, if this is required, as soon as possible and carry the payment information with you (or attach the tag on the collar). Also, make sure that your dog’s collar includes your information in case he decides to go exploring on his own.
It seems to be quite usual, at least in the rural parts of Ireland, for the dogs to pop by for treats without their Mummy or Daddy, so it is quite handy to let them know where their dog is for the tea.
We hope that this information helps you to bring your four-legged family member to Ireland to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere with you.