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Hi, our dogs flew on transoceanic flights on three separate occasions (mostly in cargo with adult larger dogs and once in cabin with a puppy), and we are planning one more flight some time in the next year or two. I'd be happy to share my experience - but I also don't want to overwhelm you or write what you already found out on your own, so I'll start with a little bit of info and if you have more questions now or when it's closer to the flight, feel free to ask.

Firstly, to answer your question, flying transoceanically with a dog is a big deal and is stressful to the animal. It is not something I would recommend for vacation, but on the other hand, for a permanent or long term move like yours, I believe that for many companion dogs, it is worth it: one very difficult day vs. the opportunity to stay with the owner. There are risks, but by doing your research, planning ahead and preparing, you can mitigate those risks reasonably well. I was very worried how my dogs would do on a flight, but every time, they pleasantly surprised me and bounced back in minutes after the flight. It sounds like you are planning way ahead of time, so you have a good chance to succeed.

The risk for your dog depends on health, breed (or the most likely mix of breeds), size, age, ability to cope with novelty, stress and confinement. If you can tell us more about your dog (especially breed, size/weight and if the dog is already crate trained), perhaps I can fine-tune some tips!

Here are some steps of the process I go through before a flight:

1. Understand necessary documentation and timeline
  • I always review the necessary requirements, because things change. You did great by asking for information - have that reply and any other communication printed out in case flight agents aren't as informed as they ideally should be (speaking from experience).
  • For Mexico to EU, it should be pretty straightforward: you need to be current on rabies vaccination, have a microchip (implanted before the rabies vaccine!), you need a EU non-commercial movement health certificate issued by an accredited Mexican veterinarian and probably endorsed by the governing body. You don't need a titer test, which simplifies things!
  • If your dog is not microchipped yet, do yourself a favour and get the ISO-compliant (make sure you get the right number of digits!) microchip - or if you have a different type of microchip, make sure you travel with a compatible chip reader.
  • Understand the deadlines for when you need to get each step done, so that you avoid last minute stress.
  • There are common pitfalls and mistakes that can mess up your documentation: for example, veterinarians often forget a signature on certain pages, or don't enter the vaccine name and manufacturer correctly. I really like my vets in both countries and they are very competent, but I have yet to receive flawless paperwork on the first try. When the time comes, poke me for a checklist of things to look for.
  • Understand that YOU must be the person that knows what documentation you need, which paperwork needs to be filled out... do not rely on the vet to tell you what to do, even though these certificates can be quite pricey, so you would THINK you can count on the vet's office to research what is necessary. Wrong. Some vets might know more, and if so, consider yourself lucky, but YOU need to be on top of things or you can end up with incomplete paperwork.
  • Don't forget to register the dog in Netherlands, since you-re staying for a while.

2. Select airline, understand requirements, book flight
  • Research airlines and their requirements waaaay in advance. The rules can differ significantly. I usually make a little chart comparing rules, limitations and prices. I have good experience with Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Austrian Airlines, and have heard good things about KLM (might be your best option for Netherlands).
  • Before you book a flight, check if that particular flight accepts (and still has room) for animals - you usually need to call the help centre for that. After you book your flight, immediately reserve the spot for your pet.
  • During the pandemic, a number of (albeit mostly American) airlines did not accept pets, some still have limitations, so pay attention to that.
  • Like @Curls said, best to pick seasons of moderate weather to fly, especially to avoid overheating or cold shock while waiting to be loaded (if traveling in Cargo).
  • I opt for direct flights, and if at all possible, only one flight, the shortest one possible. That usually means we drive 8-12 hours to get to a flight, a day or two of a break with a good long hike, an 8-11 hour flight (the dog will be in the container for about 1-2 additional hours on each end), another night and break, followed by another 8 hour drive. It's a huge project and time commitment, but I try to minimise flight time, even if that means more car time on each end.
  • If I need to take two flights, which I really try not to do, I have a few days of a break between them. That way, the dogs can recover and relax and get ready for the next stretch. I avoid connecting flights like the plague. I personally find it too risky (misplaced animals, not sure if personnel gave them water, long time in confinement...).

3. Prepare the dog
  • Each airline might have slightly different rules for the carrier (also depending on whether in cargo or in cabin), so check that. Most airlines will require containers to be IATA compliant (be careful! Pet shops sometimes sell crates as IATA compliant, but they are actually not).
  • Get the dog used to the carrier. Get her solid in coming in and out of the carrier on cue (she will need to come out for carrier inspection and go right back in). Get her used to traveling (ie driving) in the career. Get her used to strangers handling the carrier. Have your friends lift the carrier and carry it around. Go sit at the airport or train station. Etc. Basically, prepare the dog for as many airport situations as possible.
  • Start early. Most dogs need time to get used to these things. If she is already crate trained, it might go faster. My dogs don't use crates at home, so we spend about 1-2 months each time to prepare.

4. Double check, double check, double check
- Seriously. Double- and triple-check everything.

5. Be prepared for complications and trust that things will eventually work out
- I feel like I have everything figured out by now, but hey, each time we flew with our dogs there was a new challenge or complication to problem solve. Just keep your cool. It'll be ok. At the end.
 

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The cargo department where pets can be kept MUST be pressurized and temperature controlled just like the cabin - planes that don’t have that option can’t take pets onboard.

You need to line the crate with absorbent material. You make sure to give the dog a toilet break before the flight. If possible, we try to pick night flights so that it’s when they would naturally be sleeping. My dogs have not peed in the crates yet. With the puppy in cabin, we got her used to pee pads and occasionally took her to the bathroom and set those down there. On connecting flights, often it’s only possible to connect in bigger airports with animal facilities, where staff should give them food, water and a break; or you should have enough time to check the animal out for at least a few hours and then recheck them. But I avoid connecting flights partly for this reason.

Again, flying is stressful and challenging for the animal, there is no way around it. You do what you can to make it as easy as possible and minimize the discomfort. Still, it’s not to be taken lightly. But still, there are certain life situations, in my personal opinion, where the benefits outweigh the risks.
 

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Thanks for the very detailed info; if, close to the time, I have some doubt, I will ask again

My dog is a mixed breed, she has a bit of Pitbull, but IDK the other breeds(I rescued her after an a*****e threw her off a moving car, she was less than a month old), she is very nervous around any animal, but awesome with people, very friendly, she is 6 years old so she will be 7-8 years old when we go, even though she stresses with other animals, I have left her home fror the 2 days I mentioned before, and 1 whole day previously, when I had to go to Cancun for work, and when I came back she jumped on me licked me and then got on the couch again and went to sleep, just as if I had left for a few hours to the office, so she is ok, as far as I can tell, with change, not minding it at all

She has been in a crate in 2 ocasions, I will need to buy one that is compliant and train her, as she was terrified the times I put her in, but she was terrified of everything, she has grown more relaxed now(She is 6)

She has absolutely no issue with vehicles, actually she sort of dislikes walking(I walk her around 3-5km as often as I can in the week, she dislikes it but does it, have to pull her some times(She is overweight, hopefully she loses weight with this intense walking), but whenever she sees a car or motorcycle she immediately wants to get on it, she loves going in the sidecarts and smelling the air, and treats the cars as the couch, she goes in and immediately falls asleep on the seat lol so I think that might not be a big issue

I have not microchipped her but I will do so ASAP following the guidelines they provided in the response mail, and yes, I was thinking of flying KLM, as there is a direct flight from Cancun, which is around 20 hrs from Mexico City, so I will have to take that as a 2 day trip so she is not stressed, I was also thinking of getting a good dog gps tracker just in case

And believe you me, I will be on top of my vet when we have to do all the documentation, I want the least last minute troubles I can :)

Thanks again for all the details!
Ah, I must have missed your reply.

a) Make sure she has her rabies vaccination (or a booster) AFTER the microchip implantation. Sounds like it should work out if you plan to microchip her soon and you're only traveling in a few years, so she would most likely need to get her regular booster during this waiting time anyway.
b) Direct flight with KLM sounds great.
c) If she is a pit bull mix, is she snub nosed? (if so, she can probably only travel as air cargo (not on a passenger airplane), which is very costly. Plus, I would really really really think carefully about flying her in that case, as flying can be very risky for brachycephalic dogs).
d) Also, KLM has a banned breeds policy, although it is not as strict as some other airlines. I think they used to fly pit bull type dogs as long as they didn't display snub-nosed characteristics, but you'd need to check that.
e) Agree about weight loss, make sure she is in the best shape possible.
f) Introduce the crate early and initially very slowly. Some members here have a great crate training guide, or alternatively, Kikopup on YouTube has a good video. Go veeeery slowly (I can't emphasise this enough), take your time and make it easy and pleasant for her at first. You should always end a crate training session way before she gets stressed. It will probably initially look like you're not making any progress, but if you get the foundations right, it should get easier and easier. I spend most of my time training my dogs to be comfortable in the crate with me around, and I leave them for very short increments of time. After we veery slowly work up to 20-30 min, everything gets easier from there and the progress tends to skyrocket. Sounds like you have a lot of time, so you can take it as slow as she needs.

Again, as a passenger how do you make sure the the compartment is pressurized and temperature controlled? Some pet deaths have occurred because the airline put the pets in compartments that weren't pressurized or temperature controlled. I don't know whether this sort of stuff occurred only in the bad old days and we can count on airlines today to be knowledgeable enough not to kill our pets.
I hear you. I can only tell you what I do, unfortunately I can't really make any generalisations.

a) I pick the airline that I trust has robust systems for loading the pet correctly with the least stress and waiting times possible, and for not forgetting your pet is on board. Most airlines significantly upped their game after the controversies with pet deaths, but still, I just try to pick an airline that had good statistics and transparent procedures all along.
b) As I board, I ask the flight attendants to remind the captain that I have a dog in the cargo. (Often, they will even stop me themselves as I board and let me know that my pets are safely on board and reassure me that they are aware of their presence etc.) As I check in with my dogs, set flight attendants will often walk by, pet the animals and ask a few questions about them, that's how they remember us as the owners. As a side note, older online tips-and-tricks articles sometimes tell you to ask the captain to turn the pressure and temps on, but in fact, on most planes, that's automatic.
c) I fly from airports that have a lot of experience with handling animals (a good indication is that they have an animal lounge/center and veterinary services), just to make sure the systems are in place and the staff know what they are doing, so that dogs don't accidentally get loaded in the wrong place, in the wrong order, too close to an unknown animal, containers not secured in place properly etc.
d) Ultimately, I as a passenger mitigate as much risk as I can, but there is always some risk. I'm not advocating for flying with dogs (it's expensive, nerve-racking, hard on dogs), I'm just sharing personal experience. I believe it was absolutely, without a doubt, worth the risk for my specific dogs in my specific circumstances - but if something had gone wrong, I would have felt so terrible. We all just make the best decisions we can.
 
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