Cost of Flying a Dog Internationally: What to Expect

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated March 5, 2024
What to expect when flying a dog internationally: costs and procedure.

Are you planning a trip abroad with your dog? Or perhaps you’ve decided on a country relocation. Flying a dog internationally is a time-consuming and expensive endeavor — it’s important to know the costs associated with this type of pet transportation.

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How to Prepare for International Pet Transport

First, you need to prepare your dog for the trip or pet relocation. That means getting the required vaccinations, obtaining a pet passport and getting an airline-approved crate.

Vaccinations

Before flying a dog internationally, they must be vaccinated against certain diseases. The vaccines your dog is required to have depends on the destination country. Before you book a ticket, research the country’s vaccination requirements. The cost of most vaccines ranges from $20 to $100 each. Keep in mind, these vaccinations must be completed 10 days within travel.

Commonly required vaccinations for dogs:

  • Canine parvovirus
  • Distemper
  • Canine hepatitis
  • Rabies

Commonly recommended vaccinations for dogs:

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Borrelia burgdorferi
  • Influenza
  • Leptospira bacteria

Pet Passport

In order to fly a dog internationally, they must have a pet passport. This health certificate is issued by a veterinarian (preferably one registered by the USDA) and certifies that your pet is vaccinated and healthy enough for travel. The cost of a pet passport varies depending on the country you’re visiting, but generally ranges from $50 to $100. This health certificate should be dated within 30 days of travel.

Airline-Approved Crate

Finally, you’ll need to purchase an airline-approved crate for your pet. The cost of the travel crate will depend on the size and type of crate you need, but typically ranges from $50 to $200. These travel carriers must adhere to the sizes each airline has posted on their websites. It is different for each airline, as well as whether the carrier is for in-cabin or cargo.

Weight Limit

There usually is a weight limit when it comes to airlines and pets. The maximum limit is 100 pounds including the pet, but you should check with the airline to ensure this weight limit. Furthermore, the in-cabin weight limit usually is confined to the pet being able to fit comfortably inside a carrier underneath the seat in front of you. That weight is usually 20-25 pounds.

Service Animals

Usually, service animals can be on board with no problem. But in recent years, there has been a crackdown by airlines to restrict service animals. Check with the airline to see if a service animal is allowed. If that is the case, there will be no fee for having a service animal on the flight.

Other Considerations

In addition to the costs listed above, there are a few other things to consider when flying a dog internationally. First, you’ll need to check with the airline to see if they have any special requirements for pets. You should check with your airline about certain breeds of pets. The brachiocephalic dogs may not be accepted and need to secure other means of travel. Additionally, you’ll need to make sure that your pet is comfortable and secure during the flight.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Dog Internationally?

The question you now ask yourself is how much does international pet transport cost? Will it be extremely expensive? International pet shipping cost estimates will be substantially higher than domestic costs, but not by all that much, despite popular opinion.

Flying a dog in the cabin usually costs between $125 and $200, while the cargo hold is typically over $1000. This includes the price of the ticket, the carrier costs, and other health costs that are incurred throughout the process — including the documents and destination country fees. There are also licensed companies that offer international pet shipping companies — they usually charge between $1000 and $6000.

Below is a table that outlines the airline fees for pet travel. This is a table that includes domestic fees and international fees.

Airline Domestic (In-Cabin) International
Air Canada N/A $270-$319
Alaska Airlines $100 N/A
American Airlines $125 $125
British Airways N/A $196
Delta Airlines $95 $200 ($75 to Brazil)
Frontier $99 N/A
Hawaiian Airlines $35 (within Hawaii)

$125 (within US)

$225
JetBlue $125 $125
Southwest $95
United Airlines $125 Variable Amount
WestJet Cargo $50-$59 Variable Amount

 

Tips for Pet Air Travel

International pet transportation is stressful, but the best thing you can do is be prepared. Make a list of the requirements and check off each item once you accomplish it. Make sure you have the veterinary documents, import permit, and other important customs paperwork in a folder to hand to immigration officials.

There are also a few tips that can save you headaches during the pet travel process.

  • When booking a pet on a flight in the main cabin, you should be cognizant of the fact that airlines have restrictions on having one to two pets per flight, so it’s best to book this coveted spot in advance by calling the airline.
  • Aim to book a flight during mild weather if possible. Airlines won’t allow pets in the cargo area when the weather is too hot or too cold.
  • Try to avoid layovers as they increase the stress on your dog.
  • Freeze water in a large crate bowl — your dog will have enough water for the whole flight and there won’t be any risk of spilling. This is in the case your dog goes in the cargo hold.
  • For dogs in the main cabin, ensure they have eaten and drank water before the flight and done their duties, as it’s important they don’t do so during the flight.
  • Have some calming chews available to ensure your dog isn’t as stressed during the flight. Light cuddles are encouraged, but your dog cannot be taken out of the carrier (if they are in the main cabin).
  • Arrive at the airport early for check-in. Stay with your dog until it’s time to put him in the cargo hold.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, flying a dog internationally can be a complex and expensive process. There are a variety of factors that affect the cost of flying a dog, including the size and breed of the dog, the destination country’s regulations and requirements and the airline’s policies and fees. If you need even more guidance about flying with a dog, visit pet-information website PetKeen for even more information.

Additionally, there are several preparations that need to be made to ensure the dog’s safety and comfort during the flight, such as obtaining necessary vaccinations and certifications, purchasing a suitable crate and arranging for any necessary transfers or if the flight has a layover.

While the cost of flying a dog internationally can vary widely depending on these factors, it is important for pet owners to carefully research and plan for the trip in order to ensure a smooth and stress-free experience for both the dog and themselves.