Spaniards, at least on the Costa del Sol area seem to love their pets as much as their children. It is not an uncommon sight to see children – and pets – sitting with their families late in the evening having dinner outside in the multiple restaurants. At the same time it seems to be common to have your four-legged friends having their evening walks with their humans, with or without a leash.
But before you get to that point, when you’ll be strolling down the Paseo Maritimo with your best four-legged friend, there are some things that you will have to consider. We have tried to accommodate this list to include both cats and dogs, but it might be slightly biased as we have a dog.
- MAKE SURE ALL OF YOUR PET’S VACCINATIONS ARE IN ORDER
This is perhaps the most important step in bringing your pet over to Spain. When you go online and check, which vaccinations your pet needs, make sure you use
– the official sources: these include Spain’s and your country’s governmental pages. Keep in mind that Spain continually monitors the needs of different vaccinations (rabies being the first that comes into mind). Even though your pet’s rabies vaccination might still be valid for two more years, but if Spain requires it to be renewed yearly… it doesn’t pay to complain at the border when your pet is refused entry due to a missing booster.
– call the official authorised vet, the one that has the authority to deal with incoming live animals. They are usually the best sources of information when it comes to rules and regulations concerning vaccinations.
Also, when planning the relocation schedule, remember that there are some vaccines that need two shots (14-30 days). This not only ensures your pet’s entrance to Spain, but also protects your beloved friend from contracting a disease that he isn’t accustomed yet.
And if you are travelling to Spain, and therefore to the EU, from other countries, there might be country-specific requirements as well! For instance, if your pet is arriving to the EU from Malaysia, they need to be vaccinated against and tested against Nipah virus.
- GET AN IATA AUTHORISED KENNEL
We have a miniature poodle, but instead of squishing him into the small leg space underneath the seat in the airplane, decided to book him a place in the hold. This allows him to have larger space and we were able to pad his kennel with our shirts and things to make him feel safe and secure during the flight. The only thing we needed to do was to find a suitable, IATA approved kennel, which we found from the Facebook Marketplace.
It doesn’t matter if you buy yours from the pet store, or decide to go for a pre-loved one (like we did), the important thing is to buy it well beforehand. And when your bring the kennel home, leave it visible, as part of everyday items. This eases up the anxiety at the time when your pet is being put inside for the flight ahead.
As ours was a pre-loved kennel, I always make sure to give it a good scrub with hot water and pine soap. This helps to eliminate the smells from the previous owner, including the fear smell if the animal in question was anxious or afraid of the journey. I also recommend cleaning a new kennel before the use as there still might be some strong factory smells, and as we all know cats and dogs have much more keen smell than us.
When you are ready to travel, use lavender essential oil in the kennel. We use between 5-10 drops inside the kennel just before departure to the airport. This allows the scent to dissipate and even out before putting the pet in, but still is strong enough to have the desired calming effect on the animal during the transport. In addition to this, we usually rub 2-3 drops to our dog’s fur.
Never, unless ordered specifically by your vet, give your pet any tranquillizers as this can result in respiratory arrest during the flight.
- ENSURE THAT YOUR AIR CARRIER CARRIES PETS
There are some airlines that do not carry pets, unfortunately. And with some air carriers
that depends on the country. The best advice is to contact the airline in question and confirm with them that they do such service. And we strongly recommend doing this before booking the tickets.
Last year, when travelling to Ireland, we almost bought the tickets with Lufthansa, and at the last minute I decided to call them, to ask about some minor details concerning our dog’s travel with them – only to find out at that time that Ireland (and the UK) were the oddities inside the EU where they wouldn’t transport pets into. Needless to say, this caused a small hiccup in our plans as the proposed moving date was nearing fast.
Also, do check with your airline if they have some special requirements for your pet’s travel. We have done this at the airport, several days before departure. Questions about when to be at the check-in and so on can be answered there and then, and you also can start to plan the departure day’s schedule much easier.
One thing that is quite essential is your contact details and your pet’s name on the top of the kennel. This allows the staff to contact you immediately if there is a problem with your pet. Also, you can take a copy of your pet’s vaccination card and attach it there, if required by the airline.
Remember that we are writing this from intra-EU point of view. If you are travelling from outside EU, some of the regulations and rules might be completely different and that just underlines the importance of getting as much information as possible as early as possible to ensure a smooth travel on a day, which is very stressful even under the best of circumstances.
- GIVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME ON THE TRAVEL DAY
Don’t panic. Set the alarm one hour earlier than what you think you need to get ready. And most important, try to stay calm, composed, and relaxed. Your pet instinctively knows that something special is happening, and is constantly looking at you to make sure that everything is ok. If you fret and panic, so will your pet.
Make sure that there is a water dispenser attached to the kennel and that your pet knows how to use it. We taught our dog to use the bottle with a nozzle by filling the bottle with honeyed water, and soon he was a master drinking from it.
Also, make sure that he has dry food available in a small cup inside the kennel. Preferably a cup that doesn’t keel over easily.
If the kennel has additional storage areas, you can add a small bag of kibbles there, with written instructions on top to tell the staff that there is emergency food (especially if the flight is a long one or has transits).
So, head out to the airport early, so that you have time to take your pet for his toilet walk before heading to the check-in, as after the check-in, he will be staying in his kennel until you receive him at the destination airport.