Publication - Advice and guidance

Pet animal transport: guidance

Published: 20 Aug 2014

Guidance for owners and carriers on the welfare of pet animals in transit.

Pet animal transport: guidance
Fitness to travel

Fitness to travel

The pet owner has the primary responsibility to ensure that the animal is healthy and fit for the intended journey. An animal should not normally be considered fit for transport if it:

  • is ill or injured (except for insignificant illness or injury)
  • is new-born with an unhealed navel (note that animals under about 10 months old are not eligible to enter Great Britain under PETS)
  • is incapable of feeding itself and not accompanied by its mother
  • has given birth within 48 hours before starting the journey
  • is heavily pregnant and likely to give birth during the journey

The use of sedatives is not recommended, particularly where air transport is involved because the effect on the animal may be unpredictable. If administered by the owner, sedatives should only be given under veterinary guidance and the animal should be accompanied by a certificate which states the drug, dosage, and date/time of administration.

If there is any doubt about the fitness of a pet to travel, veterinary advice should be sought before the animal is accepted for shipment.

Carriers should, when necessary, refuse shipment of pet animals in circumstances where they are unable to provide suitable conditions for safeguarding animal welfare throughout the journey. Carriers may also refuse shipment if the animal appears not to be fit for travel. 

Carriers are recommended to have contingency arrangements for obtaining sppedy veterinary advice if a pet animal becomes ill or injured while in their control.