Planning a Pet Move – Common Challenges and How to Deal with Them

IMG_0590bArranging to move a transferee’s pet requires careful planning no matter what, but certain factors can make this an especially complicated endeavor. Before you get too far, be sure you “know what you don’t know” in order to avoid pet travel delays and plan a smooth experience overall.

Considerations for a ‘Normal’ Pet Move

Any pet move requires attending to basic details like helping the pet acclimate to the travel crate, understanding and fulfilling the destination country’s import requirements, and arranging move day logistics. The rules for each country are different, but often with a little research it’s possible to get started on solid move plan even if you don’t have much experience relocating pets.

When Specialized Planning is Needed

Certain factors can quickly push a pet move into uncharted territory, making it more likely to need the help of a pet transportation professional. Special components that might come into play include quarantine, breed, pet size, and the age of the pet. Here’s a quick look at why these details pose particular challenges.

  • Destination Quarantine: Not all countries require quarantine for pets on arrival, but many do, including Australia, Malaysia and New Zealand. This means that extra pre-export paperwork, vet visits and vaccines are in order, and the process generally takes much longer to plan – usually at least 6 months (so rush moves to these locations likely aren’t possible).
  • Breed: Snub-nosed breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs often face airline restrictions, so creative planning is needed when moving them by air. Large pets may need custom travel crates and booking their flights may be trickier due to airline space limitations. Certain traditionally labeled “aggressive” breeds like Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Terriers often face restrictions and/or need extra preparation in the form of a reinforced crate in order to meet airline rules. Either way, research with plenty of time to spare in order to pull off a more creative plan.
  • Exotic Pets: Birds, snakes and other less common pets often need to complete additional import paperwork and certainly require specialized crates for air travel. Again, finding the right information can be a challenge and it’s often much easier to leave this to a professional who has handled similar moves before.
  • Older Pets: Pets of an advanced will need a little more love and care before, during and after a move. Before relocating with an older pet, consult with a vet, allow for a slightly larger travel crate (to promote adequate air flow) and attend to dietary considerations to help pets in their golden years make the trip as safely and as comfortably as possible.

Alex_Thailand_USAn important note: whether a pet move is pretty standard or extremely complex, crate-training is key to minimizing a pet’s stress level during travel. As soon as you know the move is happening, start helping the pet learn to see the travel crate as a safe and comfortable place to spend time by placing it in a common area and using toys and treats as  training tools. Remember also that airlines are strict about kennel size and style, so double check to make sure you have one that will be accepted.

It’s not impossible to travel internationally with a pet, but it does require plenty of careful planning and attention to detail. Particularly when a pet move to starts getting extra complicated, knowing where to look for resources and when to ask for help can make all the difference in keeping clients’ moves heading in the right direction.

Caitlin Moore works for PetRelocation, a pet travel company that provides door-to-door pet transportation services to countries around the world.