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Cruising With Pets

We know that living aboard your boat is a dream come true for some cruisers, and cruising with pets is part of that dream.  Living for many of us includes pets.  We love having our pets on board, and they love going with us, and being at sea. 

But once you cross into international territory, there are rules for pets that must be planned for before leaving the United States.  Those rules include vaccinations, vet care, and permits to bring an animal into the country and on land.

Depending on the countries where you are traveling, here is a list of the documents you will need if you plan to travel with your pet:

  1. USDA Endorsed Health Certificate with aphis for 7001 attached, completed by your veterinarian who is accredited by the USDA to sign Health Certificates for international travel.

  2. Rabies Certificate

  3. Titer Certificate - this is the results of the FAVN Rabies Blood Serum test for pet travel to countries that are rabies free. This takes some time and planning, as there are few locations where this is performed, and the only one in the USA is at Kansas State University.

  4. Microchip. Even if you think your pet has a chip, have your vet scan to make sure it is still in place and active. You want to be certain that your pet has this valuable record in place if they are lost.

Cats and other animals who remain on board are usually easier to transport internationally, as long as customs officials are convinced that you will keep them on board and supervised. Dogs however, pose other problems - even the smallest dogs need to be walked and to have some exercise. 

Make certain, especially if you are traveling with a dog, that you are in compliance with all regulations, and know the local rules as well.  In some ports, dogs are unwelcome as feral animals pose a threat to local livestock.  Locals on some islands will leave poisoned meat out to discourage dog packs, and your pet might be exposed to that despite your best efforts.  Local officials may also tell you that dogs could be confiscated or killed. If there is a permit process for those countries, make sure that you have all the local permits in place.

Each country will have their own rules in place. Some require that your pet is examined by a vet in that particular country, other require documentation of pet health from previously visited countries.  Some may require certification that your pet is not carrying parasites, and want to know the date when anti parasite treatment was performed.

If you plan to travel with your pet, plan your itinerary carefully, and allow time to acquire necessary certificates, vaccinations, and permits.

By Michael James

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