What do I do if my pet gets sick in a foreign country?

Planning Ahead for Pet Travel

Find out where you can take your pet if an emergency arises.
Find out where you can take your pet if an emergency arises.

­Before you travel, understand the pet-related laws governing the country you'll be visiting, and what, if any, restrictions that may be placed on a returning pet by the U.S. Government, like having it inspected by a veterinarian before being allowed back into the country. You can contact the embassy of a host country or countries to get information, and also check with the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for additional information about foreign travel with pets. This is the best way to understand the potential hazards and your best course of action should something happen to your pet abroad.

Pets can suffer stomach upsets, constipation, sleeplessness, anxiety, aggression and other symptoms as a common part of the travel process. Unfamiliar surroundings are often stressful to pets and can lead to the­se and other symptoms. Be prepared to deal with them by bringing along with you the things your pet may need, including a first aid kit, pet prescription medications, blankets, disposable items and a pet first aid booklet. Include some of the foods your pet is accustomed to eating. If your pet will be quarantined for a period of time, try to leave something with it that smells of you, like a T-shirt or sock, which will help it stay calm until it's released back into your care.

Purchase a sturdy kennel for your pet. This will be its home for most of the journey, so make sure that it's safe and secure. Make a checklist of general items, like grooming tools, a leash, a current photo and other materials, as well as the phone number for the American embassy for the areas you'll be visiting. With this information and some supplies in hand, you'll be better equipped to handle any pet health emergency that arises.

On the next page, we'll discuss the types of paperwork you need when traveling with your pet.