How Much Does It Cost To Travel With Pets?

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How do you make a perfect holiday even more purrfect? For some of us, the cherry on the cake is having our furry companions by our side, even if we’re travelling to the ends of the earth.

If you have a pet, you’ve probably toyed with the idea of travelling with them at least once. Just imagine it: You, your fur baby, and the whole world in front of you both. From sharing a warm croissant on Parisian streets to trekking across Yosemite, travelling with your pet sounds like an absolute dream.

But in order to make that dream come true, you’re going to need to fork out money for a round trip flight, get your pet’s travel documents in order, and (possibly) book a quarantine slot for when you return to Singapore. Read on for our step-by-step guide on what you need to prepare when travelling with pets and how much that’ll cost you.


1. Find out where on the plane your pet can go—in the cabin with you, or in cargo?
2. Be prepared for any risks during the flight
3. Buy your pet a plane ticket: How much does it cost to take a pet on a plane?
4. Prepare your pet’s travel documents
5. Book a quarantine slot for your pet
6. Buy travel insurance
7. Buy an airline-approved pet carrier
8. Crate train your pet
9. Bring plenty of pet food for the trip
10. Buy any additional pet equipment you need
11. Total cost of travelling with your pet


1. Find out where on the plane your pet can go—in the cabin with you, or in cargo?

Your pet doesn’t get a special pet passenger flight ticket the way humans do. Instead, your pet will have to travel either with you in the cabin (i.e. right at your feet during the flight) or in cargo.

Whether your pet is allowed to travel in the cabin or in cargo depends on the airline and destination country.

Airline restrictions

Most airlines allow cats and small dogs at least 2-3 months old to travel in the cabin with you, which will probably give you more peace of mind during the flight. Service dogs such as guide or hearing dogs are also generally allowed in the cabin.

However, dogs that are deemed too big aren’t allowed to travel in the cabin. Airlines usually specify a weight limit. That means if your dog or cat + carrier exceeds a certain weight, the only option for him/her is to travel in cargo. 

How big is too big for the cabin? This varies wildly depending on the airline. Lufthansa caps it at 8kg, Singapore Airlines at 32kg, and Qatar Airlines at 75kg or a height/length of 300 cm (what animals are people on a Qatar flight travelling with?!). Do your research depending on the airline of your choice.

Country restrictions

Aside from airlines, certain countries have their own restrictions on whether a pet can travel in the cabin or not. Here’s a rough list of countries to or from which your pet cannot travel in the cabin:

  • Into/Out of Australia
  • Into/Out of Brunei
  • Into/Out of Denpasar, Bali
  • Into/Out of New Zealand
  • Into/Out of South Africa
  • Into Dubai
  • Into Hong Kong SAR
  • Into Sri Lanka
  • Into the United Kingdom

There are also country-specific restrictions on animal travel you should check before you fly. Certain countries will require your pet to undergo a quarantine, which can range from 12 hours to 3 months or more (not feasible for a holiday!). Others are very strict and make it almost impossible to bring in animals at all, so do your research before you book anything.

ALSO READ6 Best Pet Birthday Cakes in Singapore For Dogs, Cats, Hamsters And More


2. Be prepared for any risks during the flight

We don’t mean to be a wet blanket. But before you get all excited and go book your flights, we advise you to hit “paws” (sorry, we had to) and consider your pet’s risks of flying first.

Sadly, there have been cases where healthy animals were flown overseas and found lifeless upon arrival. Now we know this sounds super scary, but let’s take a look at why this happens.

While there are numerous possible reasons an animal might fare poorly in the air, a big culprit is the changes in air pressure and temperature. You know how your ears pop during take-off and landing? Animals can even face breathing difficulties, and this can lead to dogs overheating.

This is especially a problem for short-nosed (”brachycephalic”) dogs, such as Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas, and Chow Chows. Similarly, flat-faced cat breeds such as the Himalayan and Persian and rabbit breeds like the Lion Head may not do well on a plane.

Though short-nosed pets look adorable with their flat faces, these breeds are prone to breathing problems and overheating under normal circumstances—what more in an enclosed space thousands of feet in the air!

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported that about half of the 122 dog deaths during flights from 2005 to 2010 were short-nosed breeds. That’s why a good number of airlines actually ban these breeds from flying at all, including Virgin Australia, Delta and American. Others like Lufthansa only allow these breeds to fly in the cabin.

Does that mean you shouldn’t travel with your short-nosed dog or flat-faced cat? It’s certainly a higher risk to travel with these animals, and one you shouldn’t take lightly. However, there are also a good number of short-nosed animals that fared fine on flights, especially those in the cabin.

Ultimately, you should weigh up the risks against the benefits of travelling with your pet—short-nosed or not. If your pet has underlying health conditions or is a senior animal, you may want to rethink holidaying with them overseas.


3. Buy your pet a plane ticket: How much does it cost to take a pet on a plane?

So you’ve done your research on flying your pet in the cabin or in cargo, and are all set to book plane tickets for you and your pet! Hang on…do you actually book some kind of pet ticket for a feline/canine passenger?

Not quite. Airlines actually treat your pet as additional baggage, charging you either a flat fee or a variable fee by weight.

Some airlines charge you a flat fee to bring your pet on board a flight. For example, United Airlines charges USD125 each way to have your fur baby in the cabin with you. On Qatar Airlines, it’ll cost you USD200 to fly with your pet to/from Qatar, and USD350 for all other routes. 

Other airlines charge you a variable fee depending on the weight of your animal, just like how you’re charged for each additional kilogram of carry-on baggage.

For Singapore Airlines, pets are considered additional baggage—that means baggage outside of your free baggage allowance, and without any prepaid discounted rates. These are the Singapore Airlines additional baggage rates for non-US and Canada routes:

From / To


Band 1 (includes Thailand, Philippines) Band 2 (includes Japan, Korea) Band 3 (includes Australia, New Zealand)

Band 4 (includes Europe, Africa)



USD15/kg USD22/kg


Band 1


USD16/kg USD23/kg USD30/kg


Band 2


USD23/kg USD30/kg USD37/kg


Band 3


USD30/kg USD37/kg USD44/kg


Band 4


USD36/kg USD43/kg USD50/kg


So if you have a cat or small dog weighing just 5kg with the carrier, you’ll pay USD75 to fly from Singapore to Japan, or USD140 to fly to Europe. If your pooch is a big boy (or girl) weighing 20kg with the carrier, you’ll pay USD300 to fly to Japan and USD560 to fly to Europe. Mind you, SQ doesn’t allow any baggage (yes, that includes your pet) above 32kg in the cabin.

If you’re travelling to the US or Canada, SQ’s pricing model is per piece of “additional baggage”—in this case, your pet. So whether you’re travelling with a 3kg cat or a 20kg dog, it’ll cost you USD200 to fly to the US or Canada. 

Strange as it may seem, that means it’s cheaper to fly a big dog to the US or Canada than practically anywhere else. Exceptions are Band 1 countries like Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

So if you have a big dog, we suggest you opt for an airline/destination country with a flat fee instead of one that varies with your dog’s weight. For cats and small dogs, it might be more affordable to fly them on an airline that charges by weight.

Finally, don’t forget that unlike migrating to another country, taking an overseas holiday with your pet isn’t a one-way trip. So whatever fees you were calculating above? Multiply them by 2 to cover the return trip as well.

Do service dogs fly for free?

Most airlines allow service dogs, such as guide dogs and hearing dogs, to fly with you in the cabin at no additional charge. You will, however, need to ensure your dog is leashed or kept in a carrier throughout the flight—just like with non-service dogs. Additionally, your dog isn’t allowed to take up a seat and must be on the floor or in your lap, if they’re small enough.

However, certain countries may not permit service dogs in the cabin, so you should check with the airline and destination country to be sure.

Another thing to note is that emotional support dogs are not considered service dogs. While emotional support dogs help ease a psychological disorder, service dogs help people complete tasks. These include helping the blind or deaf navigate, opening doors and fetching things for those in wheelchairs, and even recognising and getting help for seizures.


4. Prepare your pet’s travel documents

Pets generally don’t have pet passports (except for falcons in the UAE!), but they do need a bunch of documents to travel. Each airline and country will have their own checklist; here’s a general one:

  • Import licence or permit (check the different country regulations to see if you need one)
  • Pet’s passport (if any)
  • A veterinary health certificate
  • Vaccination records with microchip number indicated
  • Rabies vaccination letter

Uh oh, did the list above just remind you that your pet isn’t up to date with vaccinations? Or maybe hasn’t been microchipped yet? Here’s a breakdown to give you an idea of how much all these procedures will cost you:

Vet procedure Price
Rabies vaccination $75
Canine Core Vaccination/Feline Core Vaccination $70
Microchipping $60

So if your pet needs to receive all their vaccinations and needs to be microchipped, you’re looking at paying about $205.

Your pet is also going to need a veterinary health certificate if your destination country requires one as an entry condition. This requires you to bring your pet to a licensed veterinarian in Singapore and get them to either sign on the health certificate template you bring along, or to issue you a health certificate for AVS to watermark. You can read the step-by-step procedure here.

Either way, a regular vet consultation will set you back by about $50 or so, while AVS will collect $23 from you to endorse the certificate. 

As a final reminder, different airline carriers and destination countries have different requirements. Do check with yours in advance to prepare everything you need.


5. Book a quarantine slot for your pet

The days of COVID-19 quarantines are pretty much behind us. But pet travel quarantines are, for the immediate future, eternal.

Why do some countries enforce an animal quarantine in the first place? Basically, if a country isn’t convinced that your pet is free of disease, it’s going to watch your pet for signs of ill health for anywhere between half a day to several months.

Note that when we say “disease”, we’re pretty much referring to rabies, which is the main concern for most countries when it comes to bringing in pets. While Singapore has been rabies free since 1953, practically every country still requires blood tests, vaccination records, and/or a quarantine period to prove your pet is a healthy animal. 

Thus, it’s essential to check out the regulations from different countries for bringing in pets. Not only will this tell you if you need to book a quarantine, it’ll also tell you if a holiday with your furry friend to that country is even feasible. For example, Japan mandates a quarantine period of at least 180 days for any animal not travelling from Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji Islands, Hawaii, or Guam.

Getting annoyed with how tight a country’s animal quarantine rules are? Bad news: Singapore is just as strict. While Singapore Citizens and PRs get the fast lane at Changi Airport customs, your pets don’t enjoy the same express treatment for being Singapawrean.

AVS sorts countries into 4 categories: Category A countries are deemed free from rabies, while Category D ones have an unknown risk. 

Image: AVS

If your dog or cat is travelling back to Singapore from Categories A and B, congratulations! No quarantine is required so long as they meet the import requirements and look healthy upon landing at Changi.

Unfortunately, pets coming from Category C or D countries must be quarantined at the Animal Quarantine Centre (AQC) for the following time periods:

  • Category C1: 10 days
  • Category C2: 30 days
  • Category D: At least 30 days

Whether you have a dog or cat, this will set you back by $16.80 per day for a non-air conditioned unit, or $26.25 per day for an air-conditioned one.

You’ll need to book a quarantine spot through the Quarantine Management System (QMS), which is infamous for its long waiting times. We’re talking at least several months, so planning your trip ahead is absolutely essential.


6. Buy travel insurance 

You might be wondering, is there travel insurance for pets? Technically yes, but you can’t buy it.

Pet travel insurance is sold to pet relocation services—that is, services you engage when you’re migrating to another country and want to bring your fur fam along with you. If it’s just you, your pet and a short holiday, there aren’t (currently) any pet travel insurance options (There are options for regular pet insurance, but these aren’t for travel).

While you can’t get travel insurance for your fur kid, you can get travel insurance for yourself. No, you don’t get any cash benefits if your pet gets sick, but at least you’ve got yourself covered. 

Travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage will help you cope with anything from trip cancellations to lost luggage. It’ll also cover you for COVID-19 related costs, including quarantine allowance and hospital cash. Premiums start from as low as $15 with Bubblegum Travel Insurance.


7. Buy an airline-approved pet carrier

To ensure a safe and comfortable flight for your pet, you need to get an appropriately sized carrier that meets the International Air Transport Association (IATA) standards. If you’re serious about travelling with your pet, you’re going to need to read that long, detailed document. Nothing but the best for your fur baby, right?

Before you dive into the IATA guide, here are some essential pointers. The carrier should be:

  • Well-ventilated
  • Big enough for your fur kid to sit, stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably
  • Either a one-piece construction OR have a nut and metal bolt to connect the top and bottom half of the container. Those convenient plastic snap latches won’t do.

Take note that you’ll also need to include a water container inside the carrier if the flight is over 12 hours long, as per IATA’s container requirements. Nope, those water bottles you see fixed outside hamster cages won’t do.

Depending on the size of the container your pet needs, the cost will vary from as low as $100 for cats and small dogs to $400 and up for large 30kg canines.

To get airline approved carriers at cheaper rates, try secondhand online marketplaces like Carousell. There’s a good chance people who migrated to Singapore just used their carriers once for the flight here, and are now selling it off at a discounted price.


8. Crate train your pet

When it comes to our furry companions, there’s no such thing as upgrading them to a business class seat. Even if you fork out more money, the best you’ll get is more leg room for you to place your pet’s crate at your feet during the flight, assuming they’re travelling in the cabin.

So the next best thing you can do to ensure your pet is comfortable and as stress-free as possible during the flight is to crate train them. The goal is to get your pet used to being in the carrier alone with minimal stress and anxiety. 

Start in the weeks—or better yet, months—leading up to the flight. To begin, leave the carrier out in the open for your pet to explore and reward them with treats when they go inside. Over time, you can close the carrier door and start stepping away for increasingly longer periods of time. 

On the day of the flight, IATA advises you to avoid feeding your pet at least 2 hours before. However, 4-6 hours might be a safer bet for your pet to digest the food and go to the bathroom a final time before you check in. 


9. Bring plenty of pet food for the trip

There’s no guarantee that your destination country will stock your pet’s favourite food. Make space in your luggage for adequate food for your pet, especially if they need hypoallergenic diets or are just really fussy eaters.

If we assume your cat eats two 80g cans of wet food a day, and each can costs $2, a week-long trip will cost you $28. If your cat’s on dry food, it’ll be cheaper and probably also more convenient. However, do ensure kitty drinks up and gets adequate hydration. The last thing you want is an emergency trip to the vet in a foreign country.

Now let’s assume you have a medium-sized dog who eats two 390g cans of wet food a day. If each can costs $6, you’re looking at $84 for a week-long trip.

Of course, we’re giving you a very rough idea. Do some estimations based on your own pet’s needs, and bring extra if you can. It’s better to err on the side of caution and bring too much than too little.

And no, don’t even think about sustaining your pet on whatever the local cuisine has to offer. There is human food, and there is pet food, and we’re here to remind you that each serves different nutritional needs.


10. Buy any additional pet equipment you need

Depending on where you’re going and the type of holiday you plan to have, you’re also going to need equipment like an escape-proof harness and leash, collapsible food and water bowls, and carrier backpacks.

We estimate it’ll cost you at least $15-$20 for a good quality harness (more if you have a big dog) and at least $10 for a collapsible silicone bowl.

If your airline approved carrier is too bulky to walk the city streets or scenic trails with, set aside at least $20-$30 for a pet backpack. Mind you, these can go up to $100+ if you want to splurge and get an extra comfy one for your fur kid.


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Finally, if you have a cat, you’ve got to think about how kitty is going to go to the bathroom. Unless you’re planning on walking your cat like a dog along nature trails, you’re going to need a litter box. One option is a portable litter box made out of a leakproof, waterproof fabric, which you can get for $10-$20.


11. Total cost of travelling with your pet

So how much does it cost to travel with a pet? Let’s assume you’re travelling to Europe for a week. Here’s a breakdown of the cost of travelling with a cat or dog:

Cat (5kg)

Dog (20kg)

Plane ticket (round-trip)

USD125 = SGD167

USD560 = SGD750

Vaccinations and microchipping


Veterinary health certificate and vet consultation 


Travel insurance (for the human)



Airline-approved pet carrier



Pet food



Pet equipment 

$10 (travel bowl) + $20 (pet backpack) + $15 (litter box)

$10 (travel bowl) + $20 (harness and leash)




Note that in the calculations above, we assumed you’re travelling to Europe. Generally, animal quarantines aren’t necessary if you’re travelling to and from Europe as long as your pet has had their vaccinations and certain serological tests done. 

Flight tickets to countries like the Philippines and Thailand will probably be cheaper than those to Europe, but you’ll also need to factor in the cost of quarantining your pet upon return to Singapore. 

All things considered, we can’t deny that travelling with our furry friends is going to come with costs on your finances, time, and effort. Those who don’t have pets might look at us and wonder, why go through all the hassle? Well, we love our pets. All dedicated pawrents know we would go to the ends of the Earth for our faithful companions. And for good reason too—our pets are an invaluable source of comfort and companionship to us, with over 90% of dog owners reporting that their canine positively impacts their mental well-being. So despite the money, despite the trouble, we know you’ll enjoy your trip with your furkid.



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