International relocation including your dog

Published:  26 Feb at 6 PM
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Leaving your beloved dog behind when emigrating overseas simply isn’t an option for almost every would-be expat, but owners frequently worry their best friends will hate air travel.

Travelling internationally with your dog is far easier than it used to be, perhaps because far more pet owners are relocating overseas and wouldn’t think of leaving without them. Dogs in particular adapt well to the majority of expat destinations, but the point of concern for their owners is the flight itself. In the UK, most vets are familiar with international requirements for vaccinations and health checks and, at least for the next year, Britain’s pet passport scheme allows quarantine-free travel across all EU member states.

There’s a wide choice of pet transportation websites online, but it’s a good idea to choose one in your immediate area or, better still, have your vet recommend one, as they’ll be responsible for liaising with customs and the airport vet in your destination country and will know the exact procedure on landing. The pet transportation company should be able to provide the correct crate as required by the airline, and should monitor your pet’s journey from start to finish.

Familiarising your dog with its travel crate well before your departure date as well as adding a recently-worn t-shirt with your scent on it will help keep even the most nervous dog calm during the flight. Tranquillising your dog can be dangerous and should be avoided at all costs, and food shouldn’t be given within eight hours of the flight. Just like their owners, dogs need to be checked in three hours before the flight, and will be placed in a special dimly lit, climate controlled, air pressurised cabin in the hold of the plane. It’s quite normal for dogs to sleep through most flights.

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, your dog will need to be checked by the airport’s vet, who’ll examine the documentation provided by your home country vet. It’s quite possible your dog may experience jet-lag as do humans, but to a lesser extent. Getting used to a new time zone following a long flight may take a little time, as can adjustment to a new climate. Tropical heat can cause problems in the short term, especially for long-haired dogs, and a good, warm doggy coat gives protection in very cold climates.
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