Ask Dr Jane

Question:

I am relocating country with my job and of course, I will be taking my dog "Karen" with me. What do I need to do to ensure she arrives safe and sound?

 

1

The FIRST and most important step… PLAN AHEAD… ideally at least 6 months in advance, and even longer for some countries.

2

SECONDLY… get advice from your veterinary surgeon regarding "Karen’s" fitness to travel…

as some pets may need special care or attention. The following are not hard and fast rules as some older animals can be very fit, whereas, younger ones may not be, but in general extra precautions may be necessary for:

Geriatric animals especially sick pets e.g. heart disease, as the stress of transport could make their condition worse.

Physically compromised animals especially ones with breathing difficulties e.g. brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds and those suffering with tracheal (wind-pipe) collapse. In fact, certain airlines will not take short-nosed dogs and cats – so definitely best to check.

Severely overweight animals as obesity can predispose to 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 the inability to give medications on a plane and the possibility of further immune compromise due to stress from travel.

Not relevant to "Karen" but certain species e.g. birds because they don't take stress well.

3

The THIRD step in the process is to ideally seek the services of a professional pet export company.

While they may not be cheap they take the stress out of what can be a very tricky procedure and help ensure no last-minute glitches.

There are several agencies in Hong Kong, but your veterinary surgeon should be able to recommend one or two. The paperwork involved is a minefield but these agencies will take care of all aspects of export and have up-to-date information on the regulations pertaining to each destination country.

Each country has its own rules and regulations.

There is no one size fits all – the bottom line is that some are far more difficult to export animals to than others. Some require blood testing for rabies antibodies, others require additional blood testing for diseases such as Babesia, Ehrlichia, Brucellosis or Leptospirosis. Australia and New Zealand tend to have the most rigorous requirements, whereas others such as the USA has relatively lax rules, where no rabies blood test is required, only up-to-date vaccinations. The requirements can also change from time to time so it is best to keep up to date with this (or your pet export agency will).

It is possible to export "Karen" yourself, and a good place to seek information on requirements for animal import is the relevant consulate (or its website).

In addition you will need to find out about Hong Kong’s export requirements plus liaise with your chosen airline. Please do not under estimate the amount of work (and stress) involved…!!!

4

The final FOURTH step, "Karen" will need to undergo an examination for fitness to fly by a registered veterinary surgeon,

which may involve administering worm, tick and flea treatments depending on the country of export. An official health certificate will be issued which needs to be presented to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) for endorsement prior to travel.

FINAL NOTE:

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 process of relocation can be complex, however, planning and seeking professional advice will always make this journey easier.