Moving abroad with pet in tow has become a common occurrence. Whether you’re relocating for your job or simply to get a new perspective on global living, it’s only natural to want your family with you. That includes your beloved four-legged family members. There is a lot to think about with any international move – even more when you add in pet-specific factors. For instance, how will you find a new vet?
First things first
Are you sure Rex the Wonder Dog or Fluffy the Persian Princess will be allowed to move with you? Most countries embargo certain dog breeds such as pit bulls. Many airlines have breed-specific restrictions when it comes to pet transport. These rules apply to snub-nosed dogs and cats. If your airline only allows these pets to fly in the cabin and Rex is a boxer, you could have a problem.
Even if you can take Rex and/or Fluffy, should you? If he or she is elderly or has a chronic health condition, talk to your current vet about the advisability of a long-distance move. It may be no problem, but you want to be sure. (Existing health issues may make finding a new vet before you depart even more important.)
Moving abroad with pet documentation in hand is critical. Depending on your destination country, you’ll need somewhere between a few documents and fistful of paperwork. All of it relates in some way to your pet’s health. No country wants to import pests or diseases that could harm existing household pets or wildlife. Rabies is the most prominent example, but there are several other issues countries guard against.
Your pet shipping professionals can help you sort this out. You may want them to handle acquiring all of your pet’s documentation, too. It can be extremely time-consuming and frustrating. While they’re doing that, you can concentrate on the personal side of moving abroad with your pet.
Finding your new vet
There are many resources you can use to learn about veterinarians in your new country or city. In some ways the process is no different than if you were moving from one town to the next. But it’s a bigger challenge because you are also dealing with potential language and cultural differences. As with everything else, which of these resources will work best for you depends on where you’re headed.
- Ask your current vet if they have a recommendation. This may sound silly, but you never know. Maybe your vet’s favorite classmate now practices overseas. Or suppose you’re moving from the U.S .to Canada. If your vet is associated with VCA animal hospitals, they also have multiple facilities in four of Canada’s provinces.
- Ask for suggestions from people who work for your same employer but who are already in place in your new country. There’s nothing like a personal referral to build trust and peace of mind.
- Research online, just the way you do for something more local. After all, it is literally the World Wide Web. Depending on the country you may not find online vet reviews. But it’s worth a try to learn names and locations of vets. Hong Kong even provides a list of registered veterinary surgeons right on their official government website.
- Look up online expat forums. If you’ve never lived abroad, you’ll be comforted to know that expats tend to congregate, both in person and online. You may find multiple groups in your new country, or even a specific city. Post questions to them, about where to find a vet. Like co-workers already in situ, these folks can be a gold mine when it comes to finding places to buy pet food and supplies, dog parks, and other four-legged necessities. They have insider tips you may not find elsewhere.
- Look to see if there is an organization equivalent to the American Veterinary Medical Association or the American Animal Hospital Association. Many countries have such professional groups. Do they post a membership directory on their website? If not, contact them to ask for help finding a vet in your new city.
Learn as much as you can
There is only so much you can do from here before you arrive there. Nonetheless, making a list of questions will help you find a vet you like and trust. Ask about:
- The number of vets and technicians, and their qualifications – do they speak English?
- Clinic location and hours
- Whether they handle emergencies – if not, who does?
- How well-equipped the clinic is when it comes to diagnostic testing
- Their fees
Moving abroad with your pet is stressful and distracting. So don’t make a final decision just yet. Wait till you can visit in person and meet your prospective vet. Skills and facilities are important, but their pet-side manner counts, too.