Dreaming of sharing pizza and gelato with your pup in Italy? Or perhaps you just landed an amazing new job in Paris and need to bring Fido along to his new home. While the idea of bringing a dog along to Europe might seem unusual, thousands of Americans do it every year because they’re being relocated or need their pet companion. Figuring out how you will travel is the first step in what is certain to be a memorable journey for both you and your pet.
Small dogs, usually 15 pounds or less, can often be brought along in the cabin of the airplane, where they ride under your seat in a special carrier. Size and weight restrictions vary according to the airline chosen, and your dog will need his own paid reservations to travel. Plan a visit with your dog’s vet ahead of time to get all of the appropriate health documents to enter Europe and to discuss any behavioral issues that you might expect on the flight, such as barking or anxiety.
Larger dogs that cannot travel in the cabin may have the option of coming along as accompanied baggage. On airlines that offer this option, pets ride in a special climate-controlled area under the plane. The fee structure is usually similar to that for in-cabin pets, and each airline sets its own size and weight restrictions for this service. You must be a passenger on the flight to bring your dog along using this method.
Dogs that do not fit the size or weight restrictions for in-cabin or accompanied baggage flights must travel cargo. Cargo pets still fly in special climate-controlled areas, but you will usually need to drop off Fido and pick him up in a different part of the airport. Airlines often impose embargoes on pet travel in the summer months because of high temperatures, so time of year should be take into account before you plan to use this method.
Pet owners with ample funding might opt to skip the hassles inherent in do-it-yourself pet travel by hiring a pet shipper. These companies are generally a one-stop service that arranges the proper paperwork and flights to get your pet to Europe safely. This is by far the easiest and least-stressful method to bring your dog across the Atlantic, but it can cost thousands of dollars.
The Cunard cruise line operates a weeklong transatlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2, on which both you and your pup will be pampered. Pets stay in special kennels equipped with ample play areas, and you can enjoy an owners’ lounge. The Cunard line is the only transatlantic cruise that offers pet boarding. You must book months in advance to secure a reservation, and fees start at $1,000 for the kennel service. These fees are in addition to the cruise package you choose.