Getting your dog or cat safely onto a plane requires some thoughtful planning.
We all know that a ‘pet is for life’ and when we take on the responsibility of our furry family that means taking them with us when we move home, and in some cases country. Travelling with pets is becoming increasingly popular as international quarantine requirements are easing (in many countries there is no quarantine) and airlines are improving their services for pet owners.
Exporting your pet from Laos can at first appear to be both incredibly complicated and costly. Clear advice and guidelines can be hard to come by with conflicting reports and experiences. Fortunately, the process can go smoothly with a little advance planning and investigation of the actual requirements.
Here we’ll give a brief overview of some of the options available to taking your cat or dog out of Laos – whether for a holiday or permanently.
Air travel is, in most cases, a safe way to transport your pet – so long as they have been thoroughly examined by your veterinarian for pre-existing problems.
Most animals also accept plane transport very well, especially if they have been introduced to the travel box well in advance so the experience doesn’t come across as such as shock. It’s generally advised NOT to sedate your pet for travel as this can cause dangerous changes in both heart and breathing rate.
In all situations it’s important that you purchase an IATA-approved travel crate for your pet. We know it’s cheaper to buy a crate at the local market but unfortunately these often get refused at the point of boarding – creating a very stressful situation!
Travelling internationally requires health certification by your vet, a full vaccination history (including rabies) and for most countries a Microchip. The regulations vary between countries so it’s best to visit your Vet for current advice.
It’s strongly recommended to start the process for travel as far in advance as possible – 3-6 months before travel would be the minimum time to get all the documents in order.
Most countries require specific tests for your pet before they will be accepted – mainly targeted at Rabies. This blood test must be submitted to an approved laboratory and carry the signature of a certified veterinary surgeon. In addition, some countries require Heartworm, Erlichia (Tick Fever) and Brucella tests.
In addition, your pet must be more than 3 months old before travelling to ensure that all their vaccinations are valid.
Entry to Laos
For many people finding out what documents are required for bringing your pet into Laos can feel like wading through quicksand. It’s actually very straightforward if you follow these steps:
- Ensure your pet’s vaccinations are full and current, with the last vaccine given 30-365 days prior to entry
- Ask your vet to issue a certificate of rabies vaccination (more than 30 days prior to entry)
- Ensure you have a working ISO Microchip implanted
- Tentatively reserve your flight with the airline
- Acquire an Import Permit from the Lao Government. This requires:
- copies of the above documents
- a photo and description of your pet and their microchip number
- a veterinary certificate of good health
- a copy of the importers passport
- a letter of request from an employer or company in Laos
- details of the date, time, flight number your pet will be arriving on
(this step takes approximately 7-10 working days)
- Submit the Import Permit with the associated documents to the Airline and you’re free to travel!
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Leaving Laos is quite simple and the documents required are dependent on your destination country. In most cases you will require:
- Rabies Titre Blood Results (issued and signed by registered laboratory and qualified veterinary surgeon)
- Vaccination History, Microchip and Rabies Vaccination
- Health Certificate issued by a qualified veterinary surgeon and countersigned by the Lao Government
- Import Permit for the Destination Country
- In some cases Airlines also request an export permit from the Lao Government, but this varies on a case-by-case basis
Finally the day has arrived! There are a few things you can do to make the travel as low-stress as possible for your pet:
- Make sure your pet is well groomed (not itchy or dirty).
- Take along some comforts of home – bed, blanket, toys, litter box.
- Rather than buying new types of food, carry your pet’s familiar food from home.
- Place absorbent towels on the carrier floor in case of accidents.
- Start your planning as early as possible and work closely with a Vet to ensure all documents and tests are completed correctly and fulfill the requirements.
- Acclimatize your pet to the travel arrangements by letting them sleep in the travel crate in advance.
- Enjoy your new destination with your pet and don’t leave this member of your family behind!
Contact your veterinarian for full details and to discuss the perfect solution for your dog or cat.
This article has been provided by Animal Doctors International, a veterinary clinic which provides world-class veterinary care and preventative medicine in a modern environment in Vientiane, Lao PDR.