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This is a guest post by a fellow animal lover, Maggie. I wouldn’t consider leaving for a week or longer without my dog. He is my companion and I am part of his pack. It takes preparation, planning and research to take along a beloved family member. If you are traveling abroad with your dog, it takes even more preparation. Keep reading for what to consider before traveling with your dog and moving abroad with your dog.
Note: this article about traveling with dogs is a personal opinion piece with no intended medical advice. For information specific to your pet and your travels, it’s best to check with your vet as they will know your pet best. Planning ahead is essential when it comes to traveling abroad with your dog as the paperwork can take a wine.
Are your dog’s shots up to date? How much time do you have to bring them up to date? Have you treated heartworm, fleas, and ticks recently? Have you filled out the necessary paperwork for your travel and destination?
It’s good to remember that in order to cross borders with your dog, your dog’s shots probably need to be up to date. Your vet should be able to check the requirements for your destination and you may require multiple signed forms.
If you’re moving abroad with your dog, your country of destination is likely to require a clean bill of health, so be sure to get everything you need. Don’t assume anything. Upon entering the country you will have to present the required forms for your dog to customs. Make sure you have copies of all paperwork to make the process as simple as possible.
A word of caution if your dog is traveling with you in a crate: They may need to remain in the crate until after the individual custom procedure for pets. It make take a few minutes or up to 2 hours. Have some calming treats or something with you to calm your dog.
You need to check the guidelines for the mode of travel you will be taking your dog on. Many airlines are very particular about the sizes of the dogs allowed on board, if they are allowed, so you will need to verify this carefully ahead with your airline. Once you know if you can take them on board with you or they need to be in cargo, start training them in the appropriate crate.
I had my dog practice everyday being in a smaller crate and then with me carrying the crate. Reassure them in a calm but stern voice. They need to know what is appropriate behavior in the crate. They need to learn to love the crate and feel safe there. The crate training will seem like a task and you will want to skip days, but it will make the trip easier for your pet.
Your dog’s health
Is your dog healthy and has he been fairly healthy over the past year? I would start by your own self evaluation on your pets health prior to consulting your vet. Please take the veterinarian’s concerns into account when scheduling your trip .
Do not count on the same health care abroad that you may have had at home as it may take awhile to find a good veterinarian. If your dog requires routine medicine, prepare to bring at least 2 months worth along on the trip.
Your dog’s temperament
It is important to be realistic about your dog’s temperament and travel. How well does your dog fit in with other humans and other animals? When you are traveling to another country, your dog needs to be able to be calm in a travel situation, including semi-calm in the airport. If your dog is not capable of these things, it might be good to further discuss this with your vet. A good resource to assess temperament is American Temperament Test Society.
Anxiety and traveling
It will take a period of time to prepare your dog to travel in a crate. (I use the Sherpa carrier, which comes in different sizes with a good padded strap and a top zipper to help with comforting your dog.)
No matter the form of transportation, you need to know what triggers your dog’s anxiety and their anxiety level while traveling. Given that they will need to travel for a crate for some period, it’s good to ensure that you’ve done crate training.
It’s good to remember that medication for travel anxiety can cause some dogs to be anxious and confused as they are confused what is happening. I usually use calming wipes on the pad of the crate or a blanket in the craft.
It’s best to discuss your dog’s anxiety in depth with your vet. It might be best to do trial dosing in case you’re not sure how your dog will react and what dose is required.
If you dog has allergies where you currently reside, read up about common allergens in your new location as there may be new triggers. If the allergies are predicted to be worse, be sure to ask your vet for medications to hold your dog until you have the chance to find a new vet.
It’s good to ask those around you when you’re traveling and/or in a public space if they are allergic to dogs. This is a requirement of some airlines and trains that allow you to bring your dog with you!
Travel with your dog on the day of your travels
As recommended by your veterinarian, do not feed your dog for 6 hours before travel. Please take them for a walk and a little exercise before travel. Have your dog in the crate before going into the airport or entering a boat. The sooner your dog is settled and comfortable, the better it is for everyone involved.
The idea of a small dog park at the airport seems like a great idea, but I advise not to do it. The other dogs are hyper from traveling and your dog will pick up on the stress quickly. Attempting to go back in the crate when walking away from playing with other stressed dogs is incredibly difficult.
Please make sure you carry a baggie with at least 2 days worth of food in your carry-on. You never know if there will be a delay or you definitely will arrive as scheduled. Pick up bottled water upon leaving for your housing destination. Until you know if the water in destined country is safe for drinking, you must should bottled water.
Hotel/Housing issues when traveling with your dog
It is necessary to plan housing before you arrive at your destination. We may believe our dog is part of our immediate family, but many other cultures do not treat their animals like we do from the USA. Even within the US, it’s best to ensure that your dog is welcome. When setting up your first stop after the trip, make sure your pet can be with you and cared for by you.
If you arrive and your dog is already anxious from the trip, you do not want to keep them in the crate any longer than you have to. They need to get out, explore their new environment, get some exercise, have time with you, eat, and drink lots of water.
I always check ahead with hotels, apartments, and Airbnb that my dog is welcome. I ask for the final agreement in writing to verify that my dog is accepted with me. Please keep a copy of that agreement on hand when checking in.
Moving abroad with your dog
Changes that occur when you move abroad with your dog
Remember the temperature and environment is going to be much different for you and your dog after moving abroad. I moved to a tropical climate which was much hotter for my dog. I needed to review my grooming regime, so he was cooler. Provide an area that he could easily get cooler and provide lots of water. I’ve had to change the water more regularly after moving from the US to Mexico as I find that the water becomes slimy more rapidly.
Allow your dog to adjust slowly to his inside environment before overwhelming him with the outdoor environment. I would advise putting him on a leash for the first trip outside in a yard. Make sure you inspect the yard for safety before taking the dog out. What may be safe for us is not always safe for our animals. Examples: hot chiles that are poisonous to dogs were growing in the yard.
It’s good to look up venomous animals and plants when moving abroad as there may be new plants that you’re unfamiliar with.
You will have to do some research on dog food to accommodate your dog’s diet if they have a sensitive stomach. The brands are not always the same in a different country so be prepared to do some research.
Finding a new vet
Find a veterinarian as soon as possible and figure out where they are located to your new living arrangement. If possible, make a post to your phone with times they are open, address and phone number.
Finding a vet in a foreign country
Consider the language barrier in finding a veterinarian. If you don’t speak the same language, it is usually pretty easy to find an bilingual veterinarian. I find that the local expat groups are a great source of vet recommendations.
One final note is to get to know your community well before taking your dog on neighborhood walks. In an area with feral dogs and cats, some countries have an unknown origin of people putting our food with poison to kill off the feral animals. You do not want to take a chance of your dog eating something poisonous or getting in a fight with a stray animal.
It is very possible to move abroad with your dog and have them lead a healthy and happy life. However, quite a bit of forethought and planning goes into this process, so it’s best to think ahead–and plan ahead. Do your homework. Hopefully your dog loves traveling or moving abroad