Moving abroad can be a big step for many families and parents often pack items that will help their children feel at home in their new destination. When it comes to making sure that the family pet can come with you, then it can be more complicated.
With enough planning there is no reason why Fido can't be an expatriate just like the rest of you, but make sure you do your research first. Various locations across the world have different requirements so make sure you know what they are for your new country.
Also be prepared to put your pet through tests and inoculations to ensure that they are fit enough to travel. These measures are put in place to try and prevent the spread of diseases such as rabies.
The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS)
If you are relocating abroad from the UK then you have the benefit that your animal will be covered by the PETS scheme. This allows cats, dogs and ferrets to travel to and from European Union countries without the need for quarantine.
There are also a number of non-EU countries that are included in the programme, so the first thing to find out is whether your new expat home is one of them. Those destinations outside the scheme will usually require a period of quarantine, but its length will depend on the country.
Countries can refuse entry to pets if they are not in healthy condition or if the correct steps have not been taken. Before taking a pet abroad you should ensure that it is microchipped to conform to international standards.
This is also important for peace of mind, as it allows the dog, cat or ferret to be easily identified throughout the journey. If for any reason there is a question over ownership then this will also help.
All pets over the age of three months should be vaccinated against rabies and this should have been carried out at least 21 days before arrival in a new country. The injection must have been administered within a year, however, for it to remain valid.
Other vaccinations to consider for dogs include distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvo and DHLPP. Meanwhile cat owners may decide to have their animals immunised against viral rhinotracheitis, calcivirus and panleukopenia. Enquire with your vet about what they recommend.
Before taking your pet for a final examination at the vet's clinic prior to travel, make sure that you have obtained all the correct paperwork. This can usually be found on the custom agency websites and needs to be filled in by the practitioner. A certificate of good health will be required to get your animal into the country.
Choose an airline
Look into the policies surrounding pet transportation on offer from a variety of different airlines that fly to the destination you are moving to. Examples of those which are known to be pet-friendly include Virgin Atlantic, JetBlue, AirTran and Frontier Airlines.
Some small dogs and birds can be taken in the cabin of aircraft, but it is vital that you check with the airline prior to booking. They normally require you to have a pet cage that will fit under the seat in front.
Other pets will be required to fly in the cargo hold and may have restrictions placed on them. Some airlines will not allow animals to fly at specific times of the year when the outside temperature could have an adverse affect on them.
Prepare your pet for the journey
Find out about the specific requirements for pet cages on the airline with which you are flying, otherwise you could waste money buying one that is unsuitable. It must be big enough to comfortably accommodate the size and type of pet you have.
Introduce your animal to the carrier in the weeks leading up to the trip, so that they can get used to it. Put in a number of their favourite toys, something to sit on and chew, and even an item of clothing that smells of you. This sense of familiarity will help to reduce your pet's stress levels when travelling.