The decision to ship your animal thousands of miles from their home to a new, foreign country should never be taken lightly. You are dealing with a living creature that has just as much right to a healthy and happy life that you have and, no matter how much you love your pampered pooch, if relocating him or her may in some way threaten their quality of life then you should think twice before you put them in that shipping crate. In some cases a few hours on a flight will be much kinder than re-homing a family member, but in others that few hours may actually damage your dog’s health for good.
This article contains 7 questions that you should ask in order to make an objective decision as to whether the new location will be comfortable and safe for your beloved Fido.
How old is your dog?
One of the biggest determining factors concerning whether or not it is safe to transport your dog on a long flight or completely change their living conditions, has to be their age. The older the dog, the more risky to their health that a move may be and you need to seriously consider what impact your actions may have.
If your pet is over the age of ten you may be required to provide a confirmation of health and a letter of indemnity to the quarantine provider (where applicable), as there are serious risks associated with transporting a dog of this age.
How healthy is your dog?
Regardless of your dog’s age, you should always ensure that your vet is healthy enough to travel, especially if the move involves a very long flight. Prior to departure you will need to produce a health certificate that confirms your dog is fit to fly and you will also require it to clear your animal of immigration when you arrive in your host country.
If your dog has an existing health problem that needs a certain level of care and attention you will need to check that such care will be available in the event the dog needs to be held in quarantine. There is a real risk that the stress of moving may aggravate a problem that is under control when your dog is under your own care.
If your dog requires regular medication you should also check whether this would be available in your host country and how you can access it. If not, you may need to arrange to take the medication with you. If this is the case you will need to contact customs and immigration in the host country in order to confirm the procedure for bringing such drugs into the country.
What is the weather like?
Take time to consider what the weather is like in your home country and how this compares to the weather in the host country. If there are marked differences in the climate you need to assess how this will impact your dog. For example, if you are relocating your dog from a moderate climate, such as the UK, to a tropical climate like Singapore you need to fully understand the impact that such a change may have on the health of your pet. In some cases extreme changes of temperature can cause your animal to feel permanently lethargic and ill.
You also need to objectively assess whether the breed of your dog is suitable for the climate in your host country. A husky, for example, that is bred for survival in subzero temperatures is never, ever going to be suitable for a happy life in a tropical climate, no matter how much you may wish that was the case.
If your move involves extreme climate changes that may in some shape or form cause your dog to suffer, then you should question whether the move is a good idea.
Is your dog’s breed suitable for travel?
There are many extremely sad stories on the Internet from dog owners whose pets have sadly died during transportation abroad. In many cases the causes of the deaths concerned the fact that the dog’s breed engendered physical characteristics that entailed the animal was not safe to fly. For example, pug-nose dogs can experience respiratory and cardiovascular problems when flying and to put such a dog on a flight can be extremely risky.
Thoroughly research your dog’s breed in order to ensure that there will be no complications and speak to your vet and ask his or her advice on the potential issues with shipping your pet.
How dog friendly is the host country?
In some countries dogs are just not as welcome as they may be in others. This may be due to cultural beliefs about the cleanliness of dogs or as a result of past problems. Check how welcome your dog will be and what facilities are available for pet owners.
What are the living conditions in the host country like?
Westerners are used to living in large houses or apartments and can be shocked when they relocate to cities in Asia where the living spaces are much, much smaller. This could potentially be equally shocking to your dog. If your dog is accustomed to a large living area with a garden to run around in, it may not be a smart move to relocate them to a tiny, confined apartment where they will be left to languish.
The environment in the country itself may also impact the suitability of the host country as a potential home for your dog. For example, the existence of dangerous animals (such as snakes, spiders and insects) may severely restrict the quality of life and freedom that you can offer your pet and should be seriously considered as you weigh up whether a move overseas is the right thing for Fido.
How do vet’s fees in your host country compare to your home country?
Another key consideration should be the cost of providing care to your dog in your host country. What type of vet’s fees can you expect? How do they compare with your home country? Will you be able to afford to provide adequate care for your animal? All of these aspects need to be carefully considered when weighing up whether relocation your dog is the right thing to do.
For details about what it is like to own an animal in your chosen destination please see our international relocationguides. They contain everything you need to know about the attitudes towards pets in expatriate destinations throughout the world and give you valuable insights into the types of conditions you can expect, the cost of keeping and looking after an animal and what type of life in general you can expect for your dog and how they may impact your animal.