Moving with your dog can be a project in itself. However, Canadian govt. requirements for bringing your pet with you, are the simplest in the world. Let’s look at the things you need to keep in mind, and the process to go about.
Step 1: Fly Lufthansa
This is literally the first step in the process, I kid you not. Lufthansa has the best track record of safely, securely and compassionately transporting animals around the world. They may have average in-flight experiences for humans, but their transport experience for animals is truly world class. Don’t believe me, see for yourself. (YouTube Video)
Lufthansa takes a lot of care in transporting their animals, and expect detailed information from travelers, including medication required. They have an animal lounge in Frankfurt with veterinarians who are always ready to have a look at your pet for signs of discomfort or ailment. In our case, our dog had trouble holding onto her bladder, so the team there replaced the mats for her. She was totally fine after a 24 hour long journey.
Be sure to book your flight much in advance, and during ticket reservation, explicitly ask them for animal hold availability and reserve your pet’s travel then and there (Read Step 2 in case you need to complete that earlier). You need to pay around USD 400 + tax, for your pet on the date of travel, during check-in.
Step 2: Talk to your vet
Assuming you have already ascertained that your pet is travel ready before Step 1, you need to now ensure the following things:
- Your pet’s immunization record should be up-to-date, and he/she should be vaccinated on time.
- Get your pet micro-chipped. Your veterinarian can procure one for you, but it can take some time to order, so plan accordingly. Once your dog is micro-chipped, you need to get a Certificate of Microchipping from your vet as well. Ensure that the microchip number is a 15 digit code.
- Get a health certificate from your veterinarian, not more than 10 days before date of travel. Your veterinarian should be govt. approved/registered.
- In case you are planning to neuter/spay your dog, I strongly advise you to do so in India itself, at least two months prior to your travel. This procedure is expensive in Canada and can cost you almost CAD 700.
Step 3: Prepare for Travel
Depending on the size of your pet, s/he can travel either in the cabin or as cargo. Following are the guidelines Lufthansa advises – please go through each line diligently.
Pay utmost attention to the breed requirements, restrictions, and any other special instructions mentioned on the website.
Measure your dog’s size to find an appropriate fit:
The logic is that, the dog should be able to stand comfortably inside the crate with their ears, tail and nose not rubbing against the walls of the crate. The crates also need to be well ventilated and sturdy enough to not fall apart in case your pet is moving about inside. Here’s are some examples.
There have been cases of crates breaking and pets running lose in the airport, so be sure to invest in something sturdy. Usually, people go for Petmate crates from Amazon. These can be very expensive. For our doberman, we had to procure a brand new crate for a whopping Rs 30k from a local dealer.
Prepare the crate with instructions, food and water feeders as below:
Usually, you’ll get stickers from the airline for “This side up”, “Live Animal” etc, which will be stuck on the crate for info purposes. But its not really needed. Lufthansa crew know what they are doing. Also consider placing a water absorbing mat below, in case your pet pees during the flight. Like the ones below.
(Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate Links)
No toys or articles are allowed inside the crate. The screws for fastening the top and bottom portions of the crate must be metallic and not plastic. (It’s ok to have plastic cladding, but the screw itself needs to be metallic)
Step 4: Prepare for Quarantine
Locate your nearest Animal Quarantine and Certificate center, run by the Govt. of India. Here’s the link: http://aqcsindia.gov.in/
Call ahead and book an appointment. Usually, its 4–5 days before travel. You’ll have to take your pet with you to the centre, along with the originals
- the health certificate,
- microchipping certificate and
- immunization record of your pet.
- Clear and bright photos of your pet – front view, side view, and one from within the crate.
- Passport and flight ticket
The Govt. officer will take a look at your pet and then provide an Animal Health Certificate. You will have to produce this at the airport during check-in, and arrival at your choice of airport in Canada. This document looks something like this: (sample, not mine)
Step 5: Day of the Journey
Hopefully, by now you have had a chance to crate train your dog, and he/she is well settled inside the crate. If you haven’t, then spend a good part of a month doing this. Your pet will be relaxed on the long journey, and treat the crate like their own home, thereby reducing anxiety.
Hours before the flight, ensure your pet is well fed, and has had a chance to poop and pee before getting in to the crate. For international flights, you may need to arrive at the airport at least 3 hours prior to departure. Checking your pet in can take atleast 30–45 mins depending on how efficient the staff are. They are usually slow, and may ask you to have the crate scanned. So don’t be late.
During Check-in, let them know that you have a pet along, and they will share a form and ask you to make the payment of USD 400 + taxes. Carry cash, because they don’t usually accept cards here. Your pet’s crate will then be scanned, and an officer may examine your pet from outside the crate. You’ll have to fill a form, provide special instructions if any, and then let the Lufthansa staff handle the crate, after you have let your dog in, and secured the crate.
Say your good-byes and put your mind to ease.
Step 6: At Frankfurt
Ask for the condition of your pet at any customer service counter. But the Frankfurt airport has very few service counters. So you can alternatively check on your pet at the boarding gate. In our case, the Air Hostess was kind enough to check on our pet and let us know that she was doing great, just before we boarded for our flight to Toronto. There is no other information available at this point, nor can you see your pet. This is the worst point of the entire journey – not knowing how your pet is doing. You just have to keep the faith.
The Lufthansa crew fed and watered our dog while she was in the lounge.
Step 7: Arrival
On arrival, your pet will be waiting for you in her crate, near the baggage belt, around the excess baggage area. You can simply load the crate on a trolley, maybe hire a porter, considering all the luggage you have and proceed towards Customs.
Here, you’ll have to make a payment of approx. CAD 50 to the border services for importing your pet. They’ll check if your documents are all in order, and send you on your way.
Your porter will help you find an SUV taxi, if your crate is way big to carry around.
That’s it, folks.
P.S. Sorry for the long post. I spent nearly Rs. 30k with a pet transport agency and realized that I had needlessly wasted that money for lack of process knowledge. They hardly do anything at all. Avoid them if you can.
P.P.S. Maya is settling well here in Canada. 🙂