Moving Your Pets Abroad
Sep 23, 2013
We talk a lot about how you can make money or protect your health abroad, and of course, about some of the best, most affordable places in Latin America to purchase property abroad! But does any of that matter if you can’t have your entire immediate family there with you? And we don’t mean your parents or grown children either… today we’re talking about how you can move your life abroad with your ‘fur family’ in tow.
If you’re a pet owner, you already know that your cat(s) and/or dog(s) are essentially members of your family, and including them when you move your life to a foreign country can become complicated… should they go with you, should you leave them behind with friends or family or should you give them up for adoption?
Choosing to take your pet with you abroad can be a complex, expensive and time-consuming process… and one that should be thoroughly researched before deciding 100%. One factor to consider is the length of time you plan to be gone. If you aim to live in another country full-time, it’s definitely worth considering bringing your pet(s). But if you will only be gone for months at a time, leaving your ‘fur babies’ with friends or family may be the better bet. It really comes down to your pet’s wellbeing; will they have to travel in the cargo bay of the plane? Will they respond well to being sedated? How will they deal with being quarantined, if necessary?
Before You Take Your Pet Abroad
The number one concern to countries when you introduce an animal is the transmission of disease, with rabies and Avian Flu being at the top of the list, because of their ease of transfer to humans. You will require certified rabies vaccinations and sometimes even a blood titre test, ensuring your pet is free and clear of the disease.
You’ll also want to confirm whether or not your new country of residence requires a quarantine period, and how long it can be expected to be. It’s not uncommon for a pet to be held for up to six months; an extremely expensive and stressful period for not only your pet, but you as well.
It’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your vet a year before you make your move. Some vaccines, if you haven’t been diligent in keeping them up, require boosters and can take some time to work through your pet’s system. You will also want to start compiling vaccine certificates or any other paperwork your vet recommends, as your new country of residence will require proof that your pet is up-to-date on vaccines, in good health and clear of parasites. It’s not a bad idea to visit the embassy or consulate of your new country as well, in case there are additional papers that need to be filled out by you and/or your vet.
Transporting Your Pet
Ensuring your pet makes it to your new destination with as little stress as possible is likely your top priority. Consider these points to make the flight as comfortable as possible for your companion:
- If you don’t normally take a direct flight, change your plans to fly direct. It may be a bit pricier, but it’s for the well being of your pet. Remember, they can’t get out of their crate and have a beer with you while you wait for your connecting flight…
- Most airlines will allow small pets (although not usually birds) to travel in the cabin with you, so long as their kennel will fit under your seat.
- If your pet is too large for the cabin, remember that the weather will have a huge impact on the temperature in the cargo bay. Not so much the in-flight weather, but the outside weather while sitting on the tarmac (both during departure and arrival). Consider the cargo bay of the plane to be like the inside of your car… and you wouldn’t leave your pet sitting in hot, humid car, right? Most airlines will refrain from flying your pet when the temperature reaches a certain level. Consider flying your pet during your destination’s ‘winter’ or rainy season, when temperatures are a bit cooler.
- Although an expensive option, there are pet relocation businesses that will take care of everything, beginning with pick-up at your home or a kennel to drop-off at your destination hotel or new home, and everything in between.
- Most airlines have specific requirements for what you transport your pet in during a flight. Before you head out to buy the nicest, most comfortable kennel you can find, check with the airline… heavy-duty kennels aren’t cheap, and it’s worth having exactly what is recommended to avoid airport hold-ups or having your kennel rejected altogether.
- If your pet has trouble travelling, even in a car, talk to your vet about sedation options. Although this should be a last resort (especially for older animals), there are natural and herbal options available as alternatives.
Moving abroad with a pet or multiple pets can help with homesickness and ease the integration into your new neighborhood. That being said, it can also cause additional stress and anxiety. If your pet is a senior or has an on-going health issue, you may want to rethink moving them with you… as difficult a decision that may be, you need to think of their welfare in this instance.
In addition, consider your new surroundings… will your typically outdoor cat be ok to stay in your home now that you’re living in an exotic location? How will your dog react to living in a condo with no backyard? Just like you need to get used to your new surroundings, so will your pets.
There are plenty of expats living in Latin America with their furry, feathered and scaled companions, so don’t let them be your excuse of not fulfilling your dreams of living in paradise! Visit our developers on a Discovery Weekend (some that have pets of their own!), and ask questions… this is the perfect time to not only scope out affordable property for yourself, but also assess the living situation, should you choose to make the move with your pet.