Flying with pets – Oman to Europe (Italy)

Lucky the dog in his new home in Italy.

Lucky the dog in his new home in Italy.

During our four and ½ years in Oman we have made many friends.
In this post I am going to talk about our furry friends and what we had to do to take them with us when we left.

Oman has plenty of stray dogs and cats. It is hard not to fall in love with one of them and end up welcoming them into the family. We adopted two cats and a dog. So when we moved on from Oman we took them with us.

Cat

Our cat Squirrel in Italy

For those who are thinking about adopting or have adopted an animal in Oman and are wondering about the bureaucracy surrounding pet travel from Oman to Europe as well as costs, I have put a list of what we had to do in order to export our furry friends.

Please note that this does not want to be an exhaustive list of what is needed. Costs may change with time and documentation and requirements chance drastically from destination country to destination country. This is just to get an idea. You must contact the vet in order to have a professional consultation about your pet export from Oman.

What I strongly recommend is to start everything as early as possible. Don’t expect to go to the vet today and leave with your pet next month.

Certain things must be done months in advance (e.g.: the Anti-rabies antibody testing needs to be done at least 3 months before: the animal will only be allowed to travel 3 months after the result of the test!).
This is what we had to do to prepare our pets for intercontinental travel:

• Blood test to prove that Rabies Antibodies are present – this should be done at least 3 months before. Animal can only travel 3 months after the test results.
• Animal must be Microchipped – Microchip should be implanted before the blood test and usually before the rabies vaccination.
• Animal must have all necessary vaccines and Rabies vaccination must be current
• There are a number of papers that need to be prepared. Depending on flights booked some of the documents may have to be translated into additional languages (for example in our case we were travelling with Lufthansa and so our documents had to be in English, German (for transit airport) and Italian (arrival airport). I enlisted the vet to do all the necessary. Maybe it is cheaper to do it yourself but I thought it was best to leave it to the professionals who do it all the time.

2013 001

Cats travel kennes. These ones were not so sturdy!

• Travel Kennel: this needs to be an airline approved case/IATA approved carrier. Make sure you buy a sturdy one. We bought a plastic one from the local vet to transport our cats but when we arrived at destination one of them was damaged (and I guess that the cat must have taken a tumble in it since the handle broke, most likely while it was being transported!). The case must be large enough for the animal to turn around and stand in it. If in doubt check with Vet as the airline can refuse the animal if the size is not correct. I was not sure whether these cages were accepted by the airline so I actually took photos of them and sent them to the airline to confirm that they were OK. The last thing you want is trouble at the airport.

• Airline tickets: our dog and the cats all travelled in the airplane hold. Book well in advance. If you plan to travel with your cat/small dog in the cabin check with the airline first that they do allow this and again book even more in advance as the airlines have very tight restrictions on carrying animals on board.
• If your animals are going to travel in the luggage hold make sure you book them as checked luggage and not cargo. I have heard both from the vet and from a friend that travelling via cargo the service isn’t as good and on arrival in Italy the custom procedure is a headache (at least at Rome’s airport).

Broken kennel

Broken kennel

Broken kennel

Broken kennel

The costs?

DOG   
Item Price
Microchip with Thermometer OMR 30.000
Rabies test OMR 100.000
Ministry Health Check OMR 60.000
AQVC Health Certificate OMR 15.000
Frontline (Parasite treatment) OMR 8.000
De-worming OMR 5.000
EEC Form OMR 15.000
LH flight ticket MCT-FRA-FCO OMR 160.000
IATA approved Travel Kennel OMR 120.000
Total OMR 513.000
CATS
Item Price Quantity Total
Airline approved kennels OMR 28.000 2 OMR 56.000
Rabies test OMR 80.000 2 OMR 160.000
ECC Form OMR 10.000 3 OMR 30.000
Ministry Health Check OMR 55.000 2 OMR 110.000
AQVC Health Certificate OMR 15.000 2 OMR 30.000
Frontline OMR 6.000 2 OMR 12.000
De-worming OMR 2.000 2 OMR 4.000
LH flight ticket MCT-FRA-FCO OMR 84.000 2 OMR 168.000
Total OMR 280.000   OMR 570.000

Which airline?

Traveling with pets is a daunting experience. This was the first time for me and I was very apprehensive.
One element that I found very hard was to decide what airline to travel with so I did some research on the internet and asked friends who I knew had transported their pets from Oman to Europe.

I received good recommendations for both KLM and Swiss Air. I decided to avoid any GCC airline like the plague. Eventually I opted for Lufthansa because I loved the information they had on their website, I liked the idea of their animal lounge at Frankfurt Airport and their customer service agent I contacted in Oman was very professional and answered all my questions promptly.

How was the experience?

I traveled with the dog in February 2013 and with the cats in April 2013. I had two different experiences.

The dog traveled very well. LH staff and the LH duty manager at Muscat Airport were very knowledgeable and did everything needed. It really reassured me. Once at Fiumicino airport the dog was delivered at the oversized baggage area which is a door on a corner in the main luggage hall. When he saw me he was a little disoriented but overall he was OK and he settled very well in his new home in Italy. The dog was fed and watered in Frankfurt (or at least the food pouch that I attached to the cage had been used and his bowl was wet).

For the cats it was somewhat of a more traumatic experience.

First of all LH staff on duty at Muscat Airport this time around was absolutely useless and unprepared. As I had gone through all the procedures with the dog just over a month earlier I knew what to expect so it was quite stressful to see that the duty manager was not forthcoming and that he was completely unprepared. I had to tell him to put the stickers “live animals” on the cages!!

The cats were stressed. They hate being caged anyway. As soon as I put them in the kennels they wanted out and pulled the door with their nails. They kept on knocking the water/food bowls (even though they were attached with tie wraps) and one of them managed to break one of the plastic bowls!

When they arrived at Fiumicino Airport (same area where they delivered the dog) one of the cages was damaged: the handle was broken and so was one of the clips that holds the cage together. The kennel was wrapped in cellotape. Luckily the damage did not make the cage unusable (I do not want to think what could have happened if it opened up and the cat escaped) but it can’t have been a very good experience. The cage with the cat in it must have tumbled when the handle broke. They had not been fed in transit (the food pouch was still attached to the kennels) though I doubt it would have made any difference as stressed cats do not eat or drink.

The cats had 4 hours transit in Frankfurt. I thought they would be put in the temporary kennels in the Animal Lounge during that time but as the tie wraps remained untouched I assume that they were not taken out. But maybe it was best that way. Not sure.

They were very stressed when we saw them at the airport and they were very vocal.

Once at home one of the cats stopped meowing altogether for the whole day and his head kept on shaking. He was very distressed.
After 24 hrs however they both started to feel more comfortable in their new environment and they have now settled and are back to their normal selves.

Cats are very resilient creatures.

I did not sedate the cats or the dog (this is not recommended for travel in the airplane hold) however:

– I started feeding the cats with Royal Canin Calm foor over one month before traveling and once arrived at destination
– I used Feliway diffuser in the house before leaving to make them feel calm through all the changes that were happening around them
– I sprayed the cages on a daily basis with Feliway spray before leaving for over a week
– Put the cages in the room where they ate in the house for a month before they left to get them used to the kennels and placed the food inside the cages (it made it much less stressful and easier to get them into the cages when needed).
– I put an item of clothing I had been sleeping with inside the cages as kennel lining before traveling
– I sprayed feliway for dogs in the dog cage before travel
– I fed the dog with a herbal calming capsule before traveling (Calmex)
– I trained the dog to his cage for a year before traveling
– I got the dog used to staying locked inside the cage for progressively longer time.Initially with me in the house then also when I went out.
– The dog was very comfortable in the cage and would use it as is sleeping pen.

Conclusion: preparation is very important. If you know you will travel with your pet within a year or 6 months’ time, start thinking about what you need to do and prepare.

Good luck!

I leave you with a video of Lucky. Our Omani dog, getting to see the snow for the first time.

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