Thousands of years ago, humans began traveling with their canine companions – and the yearning for side-by-side adventures has been with us ever since. We love to take our dogs with us everywhere we go, but these are unprecedented times. Is it safe to travel with your dog during the coronavirus crisis? The answer is yes as long as certain precautions are taken.
It’s important to follow official guidelines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer guidance for pet owners and travelers alike. They begin with reassurance that, at least for now, there is no evidence that animals play a major part in spreading the COVID-19 virus through the human population.
At the same time, CDC mentions that it appears humans can spread COVID-19 to pets. To date, such incidents are rare, with only a very few dogs testing positive, and slightly more, but still a small number of cats. That said, current guidance from the CDC encourages dog owners to treat their pets with the same caution they use to minimize the risk of exposure in human family members.
This means following social distancing recommendations and keeping at least six feet of space between your pet, other humans, and other dogs. Limiting contact is still the best way to protect your pet and yourself from potential exposure to COVID-19.
It’s often safe to travel with your dog.
Since you’re taking precautions for your own safety, you can put similar safeguards in place for your dog. Traveling during the coronavirus crisis means planning well in advance. It might mean knowing what to anticipate at the airport and during your flight, or plotting your route with a little added care if you’re traveling by car with your pet.
The CDC has issued a complete guide to travel with an eye toward keeping everyone safer, whether getting from one place to the other by air, land, or sea. Besides checking for updates at the national level, check for local restrictions in areas you’ll be traveling through.
Follow essential guidelines like washing your hands, not touching your face, using a cloth face covering in public and minimizing contact with others. These are some of the things you need to do to travel with a dog during the coronavirus crisis.
It’s OK to be friendly but keep your dog socially distant from others as well. Even though there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transferred between individuals after contact with pets; there are so many unknowns that allowing others to pet your dog simply isn’t worth the risk.
Vet checks are vital
As always, it’s important to ensure that your dog has all vaccinations required for your destination. You can find specific information on what your dog will need to travel to different destinations. Your vet can provide you with specific guidance, too.
Once your dog has had a checkup and received any necessary vaccinations, get copies of their health records to carry with you. Keep them in a spot that’s easy to access. Be sure to have electronic copies too just in case anything is lost.
Consider your destination and your own health status
As your dog’s caretaker, it’s important to look after your own health. Look for statistics concerning the spread of COVID-19 at your destination and decide if you feel that it’s safe to travel there. If not, you might be able to choose a different destination or postpone your trip until it’s safe to travel with your dog.
You might also consider a non-urban destination where there are fewer people and social distancing is easier. The countryside, fresh air and long walks will be your best friend’s preference too!
Anticipating challenges can help ease airport stress
Air travel can be challenging even during the best of times. During the coronavirus crisis, traveling, especially with your dog, may present new challenges.
Double-checking in advance to ensure that you can fly with your dog is only part of the big picture. Remember that added safety measures such as temperature checks are intended to serve as an extra layer of protection for everyone. Give yourself plenty of time to go through the process of making your way through the terminal and onto your flight, so you feel less stressed.
Know ahead of time whether your dog will be allowed to fly in the cabin or if they’ll be traveling in the cargo hold. Private jet travel is a hassle-free option if it is in your budget. It is one that’s almost certainly safer in terms of potential exposure to coronavirus, too.
Know quarantine rules
Countries around the world have used quarantine measures to prevent potentially infected travellers spreading coronavirus into their country. So, if you’re planning on traveling overseas, here’s what you need to know on quarantine rules:
- U.S. – Many states in America (e.g. Florida) require 14 days of quarantine for some out of state visitors. You can see a full list of state quarantine rules here.
- Turkey – Turkey, UAE and other countries will require 14 days of quarantine. Pet owners need to confirm that they can self quarantine at their destination address; otherwise they will need to make arrangements for their pet should they need to quarantine in a government facility
- Spain – Quarantine since May 15, not yet lifted but ministers aim to reopen borders in July
- Greece – Quarantine of arrivals since March 16, hoping to lift June 15 and at the latest July 1
- Taiwan – Quarantine since March 14, currently undergoing a trial to see if it can be lifted
- Germany – Quarantine of new arrivals since April 10, announcement it would be lifted for EU arrivals made on May 15
- Italy – Quarantine since March 28, to be lifted June 3
- France – Quarantine of some arrivals since May 3, restrictions to be “gradually” lifted from mid-June
Have a contingency plan
The coronavirus crisis is rapidly evolving and everything can change at the drop of a hat. It’s a good idea to have a backup plan in place, just in case.
Make plans for someone to care for your dog while you’re away, in case they aren’t able to travel with you at the last minute. Many pet boarding and kenneling businesses are still open, and private pet sitters are another option.
Prep for this possibility by putting your dog’s complete health records together. Add contact information for your vet and any other emergency contacts who might be able to help if plans change. Let everyone on your list know what you’re doing. Make sure that they’re OK with stepping up in case you and your dog need help in an emergency situation.
Have food, bedding and other essentials available in case your dog needs to stay with someone else as a last resort.
Remember to consult your vet and keep a close eye out for any changes that might affect your itinerary. With careful planning and insight, it can be fun – and safe – to travel with your dog during the coronavirus crisis.