With the Christmas break just weeks away, you may have considered taking the furry member of the family along for a holiday. But have you thought about what travelling with your pooch might actually require?
You’ll need to do a good deal of planning whenever you take your dog away on holiday, making your to-do list a lot longer. You’ll need to consider things like pet-friendly accommodation and destinations and you’ll need to pack all of the necessities. Or maybe your holiday plans include leaving Fido in the care of someone else.
Which begs the question: will pet insurance cover your pets while you’re away?
“Leaving home without adequate insurance is always a mistake, but you’d be surprised at how many people neglect to check that their pets are covered when they go on holiday. Whether you’re taking your pets overseas or simply on a road trip within your own state this Christmas, you need to make sure that they are comfortable and covered! Remember a dog is for life, not just for xmas!” says Natalie Ball, Director of Compareinsurance.com.au.
Travelling with pets: what you need to know
Paws for thought: does pet insurance extend to cover away from home?
Just as you would never confuse your dog for a cat, you shouldn’t confuse insurance cover. Check to make sure your policy covers your pooch for everything you’re planning on doing on your holiday.
Companies including 1300 insurance, Bupa, Medibank, Pet Insurance Australia, RACQ, Real Insurance, Petplan, Prosure, RSCPA and Woolworths will pay for pet expenses incurred for the treatment of your pet whilst they are overseas. However the definition of ‘overseas’ is fairly limited. You will not be insured for any destinations where Australian quarantine regulations require your pet to be quarantined on its return. This brings the list of overseas destinations to just the Cocos Islands, New Zealand and Norfolk Island.
Policy restrictions also apply:
- You cannot go on long trips – most policies will restrict the length of time you can take your pet out of the country for. This is usually no more than 60 days.
- You may not be covered for emergency repatriation costs to return your pet home if they are sick or injured.
- You may not be able to claim for an incident that happened when your pet was not under direct care. You should nominate an authorised person to look after your pet whilst you are overseas that can speak to your insurer in case anything happens.
Agriculture.gov.au states: When your cat or dog is exported from Australia it immediately loses its Australian health status. This means you might not be able to bring it back to Australia at short notice.
Cats and dogs can only return to Australia from certain countries and, depending on the country, the pre-import preparation time, or time spent in quarantine, can be over six months. Starting preparations in Australia before you and your pet head overseas can make returning them to Australia much simpler.
Non-approved Category 2 countries include: American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Christmas Island, Cook Island, Falkland Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Iceland, Japan, Kiribati Mauritius, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna.
Non-approved Category 3 countries include: South America, Central America, Carribean, Europe, Africa, South Africa, Middle East, Canada, Asia.
For more information head to: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/cats-dogs/cats-dogs-returning-to-australia
Does your airline allow pets to fly with them?
If your holiday requires a flight, you’re going to have to do a little more planning to get things ready for Fido. Your holiday will get off to a ‘ruff’ start should your pet get turned away at the airport. To avoid barking up the wrong tree, check in advance that your chosen airline will fly pets.
- Virgin – To travel with Virgin Australia, the animal must be held in a container compliant with the airline’s guidelines. The pet must not be unduly aggressive and be over 8 weeks old.
- Qantas – Qantas do not allow any animal classed as a dangerous dog – including pit bull terriers, Japanese Tosa and Brazilian Fila – to travel on any of their aircraft.
- British Airways – Registered assistance dogs may travel in the cabin of a British Airways flight while all other pets must travel in the cargo hold, except OpenSkies flights between Paris and New York where cats or dogs under 6kg/13.2lb are accepted in the cabin.
- Jetstar do not allow pets to travel within their cabin. If you wish to travel with your pets you can arrange to do so with Qantas freight, or with Jetpets.
- Air New Zealand allows domestic pets – cats and dogs (excluding any transported for profit e.g. racing greyhounds) and small caged birds to travel as checked in baggage on all domestic services within NZ.
- Singapore Airlines allow cats and dogs to travel on the same flight as you in the air-conditioned cargo hold underneath the passenger cabin. Carriage of pets in the aircraft cabin is not permitted, with the exception of service dogs.
What your airline won’t allow
There are strict rules surrounding animal air transportation. Airlines and transport providers along with animal welfare agencies and veterinary practitioners have created guidelines to ensure your pet travels safely and comfortably. Here are a few things that airlines typically will not allow:
- Certain breeds
- Young animals
- Other animals
- Pregnant animals
- Large or small cages
Just like people, not all pets are suited to air travel. There are heaps of factors to consider before planning to holiday with your pet.
Purr-fect pet planning
- When to travel? If your pet is travelling in summer avoid flights during the middle of the day, and in winter avoid early or late flights in the cooler parts of the day.
- Train to travel. Not all cats and dogs are born nomads; some prefer the comfort of home and will get stressed in unfamiliar settings.
- Crate comfort. There are plenty of ways to make this process easier, including acclimatising your pet to its crate as early as possible.
- Optimum conditions. It’s essential to keep your pet as comfortable and well hydrated during the flight as possible.
- It’s not forever. If your pet is not travelling in the cabin with you avoid making a fuss before you part ways.
- Documentation. You’re required to have all documentation ready before your pet can be permitted to fly, this will include export and import papers, transit health certificates, relevant licenses or permits and quarantine provisions.
- IATA Shipper’s Certificate for Live Animals. This certificate will be issued by your airline before you travel with your pet.
- Pregnant animals: If your pet is pregnant, you will need a vet’s written assurance that they are fit-to-fly.
- Age. Pets over 12 years of age must also be accompanied with a vet certificate stating the pet is fit-for-flight.
Leaving your pets behind: a few more questions
If you’ve decided not to take your dog away with you, they will automatically be covered by your regular pet insurance while you’re away, right Right! But it’s still a good idea to consider your policy’s stance on boarding kennels, whether your insurance covers pets away from home and if you’re required to nominate a carer for your pet.
Although phones and the internet have made it much easier to be contacted whilst you’re away there is always the off chance you won’t be in reach in the event of an emergency. It’s a good idea to fill out an Animal Care Emergency Authorisation Form for your pet while you’re away.
Creature comforts: Leaving your pets at home when you go away
If you do decide to leave your pets at home, you need to take steps to ensure that your animals are safe, healthy and happy while you’re away.
- Get your pets’ health checked before you go
- Sort out accommodation early
- Do a trial run
- Delayed home from your holidays?
Your fur-friends are part of the family so it’s only natural to have their best interests in mind whilst you holiday. Whether you bring them along or leave them at home, making sure they’re cared for is a must. Travel Insurers will also vary when it comes to pet minding cover so make sure you compare policies before you buy.
Here are just a few things that can make life with your dog a bit easier - see them now on our DOGSLife Directory