What to Know Before Moving Your Pet Overseas
Far more than half of Americans own pets, and for most, they are part of the family, which can make an overseas move all that more stressful. If you prepare, though, it doesn't have to be. If you follow these steps, you may find that taking your pet with you is easier than you'd imagine.
Consult the Experts
Contact the destination country's consulate or embassy to ask about the country's rules when it comes to pets. Nearly all will require certain vaccines, which should be available at your vet's office. Some might even require a quarantine period, and some may not allow pets from overseas at all. PetRelocation.com can help you, with both information and with moving your pet, but the ultimate resource is the consulate or embassy.
How Pet-Friendly Is Your New Home?
Your destination country might be fine with your pet, but you also want to know how pet-friendly your new home is. Ask prospective landlords about their pet policy. Research pet-friendly areas and walking trails. Some countries even allow pets in restaurants. Others think pets should stay behind closed doors. Research local vets and pet care facilities.
Take Your Pet to the Vet
Your pet will need shots, and for some countries, a waiting period before moving. Start planning at least six months before the move. Many countries require blood tests in addition to the shots, to make sure your pet isn't carrying a parasite or an illness. The consulate or embassy can give you all the specifications, which you should share with your vet, or better yet, one that specializes in preparing pets for overseas moves.
Figure out how you'll move your pet
If your pet is small, you may be able to travel with her in a crate under your airplane seat. Most airlines will allow larger dogs and cats in the luggage compartment, which is usually pressurized and temperature controlled. There are some risks, though, especially if it's not a direct flight. There are plenty of stories online of airlines misplacing pets as they move them from plane to plane. Check with your vet, but it's generally not best to sedate your pet. You can give them natural calming medication, but sedation could cause them to get very sick.
Having your pet on the same flight might seem most comforting, but it's not always the best thing for your pet. Some transportation services specifically cater to pets. Pet Airways, for example, transports your pets in the cabin, instead of the luggage compartment. With them, your pet's safety is the top concern.
When you might not want to move your pet
If your move overseas is permanent, by all means, do everything you can to move your pet. If it's a temporary relocation, and your desination country isn't ideal, you might consider asking a friend or family member to take care of your pet while you're away. Always remember, though, that pets are resiliant and being with you is their number one priority.