Moving is one of the most stressful events in a person’s life and adding pets, and a new country can only increase that stress. Relocating your pet internationally is a complex undertaking that requires careful planning and organization and strict adherence to even stricter deadlines. The process can take anywhere from three months to a year, depending on the origin and destination countries. Your pet’s admission could be rejected, quarantine could be extended, or your pet could be sent back to its home country at your expense if you don’t follow specific rules. But there are ways to organize a smooth and as stress-free experience as possible for you and your furry friend. To help you, we’ve consulted dog training experts, and here’s how to prepare your pet for an international move.
Tips to help you prepare your pet for an international move
In most households, pets are treated like furry family members, complete with a birthday party and a rawhide-filled stocking on the mantel at Christmas. After all, pets are more than just animals; they are members of the family, valuable assets to the home, and devoted companions.
So, it’s no wonder that taking care of the family pets is typically the most stressful part of the long list of preparations expats have to make before beginning their lives in foreign countries. Moving, quarantining, and registering a pet in a new nation may be a lot of work, causing many worries for pet owners.
And, even though you can rest assured that experienced moving counselors are supervising the relocation of your furry friend, things are not as simple as simply handing your pet over to them. First, you must prepare your pet for an international move, as that’s the only way you can ensure everyone has as stress-free an experience as possible. Here’s how to do it!
#1 Consult your vet
When planning an international move with your pet, the first and most important thing to do is to consult your pet’s vet. They can assist you in getting your pet ready for the lengthy flight and let you know if they have any concerns about your pet making the journey. For example, vets usually advise that young, senior, anxious, and sick animals should not ride in cargo. You may need to try administering an anti-anxiety drug to your pet.
You also want to ensure they have all their shots up-to-date. To top it all off, your vet may assist you in fulfilling any health-related immigration criteria your destination country may have. Also, don’t forget to get a copy of your veterinarian’s complete medical history when you visit and stock up on any drugs you need for the next few months. It is also a good idea to research local vets in your new country before moving there. That way, in case of an emergency, you’ll at least know your options.
#2 Consider hiring pet relocation services
Planning an international move can be an overwhelming experience. Let’s say you’re moving from the US to Belgium. First, you’ll need to deal with hiring international movers, and because you want to rely on an expert team, it might take you a while to find the right company for the job. Then, you declutter, pack, and organize all of your belongings. And let’s not mention dealing with all the paperwork and bureaucracy simultaneously.
Now adding moving your pet to the equation – things suddenly tend to get much more stressful as your list of moving tasks will significantly increase. From researching pet regulations in Belgium to boarding your pet on a plane, there are many things to do.
Luckily, there are professional pet shipping and moving services you can rely on to make things easier for you. They’ll handle every aspect of transporting your pet, from researching and advising on the pet import regulations to arranging the transportation itself. On top of that, they will even handle the paperwork and customs clearance for you and your pet.
Do be careful as there are plenty of scams out there. If you decide to hire pet relocation services, make sure they have the proper USDA certification. You should stay away from any businesses that promote themselves on online classifieds like Craigslist or demand money through services like Western Union. Make sure you choose a business to deal with that is easily accessible through phone and text messages.
#3 Make sure you have enough time
Preparing for an international move with your pet might take as long as six months, depending on the country you’re moving to. This depends on different factors, but it’s mostly due to a lengthy visa process. So if you don’t start preparing well in advance, you’ll have to figure out a way to get your pet to you later, which isn’t ideal for either of you.
In addition to familiarizing yourself with the prerequisites, you should also pay special attention to the required actions and the timeframes involved, as different tasks may need to be completed in various phases. After completing these procedures, you may relocate overseas with your pet without subjecting them to quarantine.
Starting your preparations on time will allow you to arrange everything properly. Let’s take your moving day as an example. With all the boxes and bags lying around and different people going in and out of your home, your pet can get stressed quickly. If you start planning on time, you’ll have plenty of chances to find the perfect pet sitter that will keep an eye on them while ensuring your move is going according to plan.
#4 Start adjusting your pet to the travel crate as soon as possible
If you don’t already own an airline travel crate for your pet, get one that satisfies the specifications of the airline you’ll be flying with to your new nation. It would help if you started acclimating your pet to it as soon as you get it. Even though they may feel confined, they provide a lot of comfort for pets, and your pet might get used to being in the crate by spending more time there regularly.
Crate training may take some time for some pets. In order to have a good experience with it, you should try your best to frame it in a positive light. Building a solid association between the crate and security for your pet is essential. You can get your pet accustomed to spending time in its crate by feeding it meals and treats there, for instance. But you can always reach out to experts if you need additional help with this part of the training.
#5 Prepare all necessary documents
Preparing your pet for an international move also means making sure you have all the necessary paperwork. For instance, your pet’s immunization records (including rabies and other vaccines), a note from your veterinarian approving the trip, and any other paperwork required by the airline and the country you’re transferring to. Make sure everything is signed where it needs to be and that you have numerous copies on hand.
Keep in mind that it can be quite costly to experience delays due to paperwork that is either missing or incomplete. If this happens, the customs in your new country can easily turn away your pet, and that’s the last thing you want to happen. That’s why a pet relocation service may be worth the cost if it ensures a safe and stress-free abroad trip for your pet.
#6 In case you’re flying with a pet other than a dog or a cat
Although the aforementioned tips mostly address cats and dogs, they are universally applicable. If you’re taking a less typical pet with you, though, such as a bird, reptile, or small rodent, be sure to check up on the specific rules pertaining to that animal before you pack up and move. If you don’t do it, you might miss something important.
Your first order of business should be to confirm if your pet is welcome in your destination country. Also, make sure to check if there is a mandatory quarantine time, health requirements for travel, and other specifics you should know about. Here’s another situation where pet relocation services can really come in handy!
We won’t lie – planning an international move won’t be easy, and, at times, it might even feel overwhelming. However, if you take your time to organize everything and prepare your pet for an international move, the whole experience will be that much simpler and easier for everyone. We wish you and your furry friend the best of luck in your new country!