Ask Dr Jane - Fly away with your beloved fur-kids

Dr Jane, we are moving to another country and of course will be taking Billy (our dog) and Leroy (our cat)! Is there any advice you can give us to ensure a smooth journey and pleasant start for them in our new home?

  1. Plan ahead: research well in advance on both the export and import requirements, and pay particular attention to the lead time.
  2. Check vaccination and microchip records: to make sure they meet the veterinary health requirements for export and import.
  3. Know your budget: I would recommend getting an agent to do the paperwork unless you are very confident and experienced – this is the more expensive option but definitely the better option to avoid unnecessary stress!
  4. Reduce stress: being organised and planning ahead reduces your stress but what about Billy and Leroy! Here are a few tips to reduce their stress during the whole process.
    • Get the transport crates well before time.
    • Let Billy and Leroy move freely in and out of their crates, even sleep in them, eventually try to place their food and water bowls inside too.
    • Place “smelly-used” clothing of yours or their bed in their crates.
    • Calming sprays can help such as Adaptil (dogs), Feliway (cats) or Pet Remedy (dogs and cats) – sprayed in their crates and bedding for several days in advance including the day of transit.
  5. On arrival: be very patient with transition times during migration as the stress involved can result in Billy or Leroy showing changes in behaviour, appetite or even becoming ill. Make sure bedding and familiar things are in their new environment –sprays (or a diffuser) are again good.
  6. Medical Records: ideally chose a veterinary clinic at your destination, and make sure all medical records have been transferred – just in case they become unwell.

 

Are there any types of dogs, cats or small animals that are not suitable to travel on a plane?

  1. As a sensible first step, if you have any doubt, I would strongly advise getting advice from your veterinary surgeon regarding your pet’s fitness to travel.
  2. The following are not hard and fast rules as some older animals are very fit, whereas, younger ones may not be, but in general the following pets may need special care or attention:
    • Geriatric animals – especially sick pets, as the stress of transport could make their diseases worse.
    • Physically compromised animals especially ones with breathing difficulties, particularly brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds and those suffering with tracheal (wind-pipe) collapse.
    • Severely overweight animals as obesity can predispose to other issues such as heat stress and breathing issues.
    • Mentally compromised animals e.g. animals prone to stress, anxiety or aggression.
    • Chronically ill animals e.g. those on life-long medication or immunocompromised animals. Due to a) the inability to give medications on a plane and b) the possibility of further immune compromise due to stress from travel.
    • Certain species e.g. birds and exotic species because they don't take stress well.

 

And just as a footnote:

Our pets are not our whole life but they make our lives whole. They are our best friends and family members who love us unconditionally. We understand the preparation time can be lengthy when it comes to moving to another country together with your pet. However, planning ahead and seeking professional advice will make this journey a whole lot easier!