flying our dogs to italy
Nothing during our move compared to the anxiety and fear of flying our dogs overseas. Both dogs are rescues and have been part of our family for over 6 years — leaving them behind wasn’t an option. If you’re moving with the military, your dogs are not covered in the moving expenses and availability to fly them on MAC or Space-A flights is extremely limited.
Of course, as it always seems to go with the military, our plans changed two weeks before leaving when the military told us our dogs didn’t have reserved spaces on the MAC flight. This meant we were left scrambling to find a way to fly them commercially. After looking into various International Pet And Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) approved animal shipping companies and after a few telling us they couldn’t work with us given the two-week turnaround (most companies request a 6-8 week notice), we were super stressed and considered having me stay back until the dogs were ready to fly out. Just at that moment, Pets Fly responded back to our inquiry and we moved forward with them.
Jeni Redmond with Pets Fly was amazing and the journey abroad would not have been a success without her. She was able to work with our two-week turnaround, get the dogs tickets on our same flight, drove to San Diego from Arizona to pick up the dogs, dropped them off at the airport, signed up for premium service when they arrived in Germany, provided all the required stickers and documents, and answered my many, many questions.
Our dogs flew with Lufthansa and we had no breed issues (one is a pit bull and the other is a boxer mix). They had a layover in Frankfurt, Germany where Lufthansa has a pet lounge. The dogs and their crates were cleaned out and because Pets Fly’s service for the premium service from the pet lounge, we received an update with pictures when they arrived and were waiting for their next flight. Pets Fly works with partners all over the world and can work with you from virtually anywhere. If you’re flying your pets, whether it’s domestic or international travel, we HIGHLY recommend Pets Fly (they also offer a military discount).
Below is the process we went through to fly our dogs to Italy:
- Purchase the crate. We recommend the collapsible crate from Impact Crates because they are extremely sturdy and easy to store.
- If you purchase the collapsible crate, make sure to also purchase the brackets and door guards to make them International Air Transport Association (IATA) compliant.
- If you’re already overseas and need the brackets and door guards, Impact Crates can ship accessories to FPO and APO addresses; the crates cannot be shipped overseas.
- Purchase bowls for food and water. Jeni recommends you freeze water in the bowl so it doesn’t spill everywhere and lasts longer for the animal. We purchased these bowls in medium.
- Purchase all stickers and paperwork required to be displayed on the dog’s crate. Pets Fly provided these, but you can find them on Amazon or Chewy.com.
- Purchase absorbent material for the bottom of the crate. We purchased these and they doubled as a cushion for their long flight.
- Research all the requirements to or from the United States.
- For Italy, dogs do not need to be quarantined. They do need rabies vaccination + microchip. If they do not have a microchip, their rabies vaccination needs to be administered after the microchip has been implanted. Dogs must receive their rabies vaccination at least 21 days before entering Italy.
- Download the health certificate. Have a USDA accredited veterinarian (or military veterinarian) sign off stating the animal is healthy. Not all veterinarians are USDA accredited. Ask your veterinarian if they are or search for one here.
- Receive a USDA APHIS Services endorsement on the health certificate after it’s been signed by a USDA accredited veterinarian. There are only two in California and they are located in El Segundo and Sacramento. We overnighted our paperwork and included an overnight envelope for them to send it back. The USDA APHIS Services endorsement has to be less than 10 days old upon entering Italy, so this is not something you can do ahead of time.
- We were told not to give the dogs anything to help with anxiety they might experience during the flight. This includes dog Xanax prescribed by a veterinarian and CBD. The transportation company and the airline have the right to refuse transportation if they feel the animal is under any type of medication.
The dogs definitely miss their yard, were very fearful of the stairs the first couple of days, and really don’t like the stray cats in the neighborhood, but they love sun bathing on the terrace, sleeping on the couch, and the new dog food we found out in town. Moving the dogs was undoubtedly the most stressful part of our relocation. We would’ve traded all our personal belongings being lost or destroyed if it meant the dogs arrived safely. If you’re moving with the military my advice is to be prepared to fly them commercially and set aside $10,000 (give or take) depending on where you’re flying to and from, the additional items you’ll need, and the possibility of needing to board them upon arrival. In total, we spent close to $8,000 for everything including two months of boarding while we were looking for a permanent place to live. Prices fluctuate depending on where you’re flying to and from, so make sure to do your research and feel free to reach out if you have any questions. We hope to use Lufthansa and Pets Fly again when it’s time to move to Jaime’s next duty station in three years.
Until our next family journey,
Jaime, Jordan, Troy, + Xena