There’s no question an international move can be stressful – for every member of your family, including your dog or cat. Here are some tips to help your pet weather the experience with a wagging tail or a nice, loud purr.
Give them plenty of love and affection before the move.
Before you move your pet, don’t let them feel left out. Even though you’re busy, make sure feeding stays on schedule and any other pet routines stay on track. Mark off time to have some fun – petting or playing where they can be the center of attention.
Keep them away from the hubbub.
The less disruption, the better. On the most chaotic days, when you’re expecting unfamiliar people or activities pursuant to your move, arrange for your pet to go to day care or visit a neighbor, or take them for a long walk or a little road trip if you can be away yourself – anything so they aren’t in the middle of all that stressful coming and going
Help them get used to their travel carrier.
A kennel they can identify with as “theirs” will really help. Since you’re required to use an extra heavy-duty IATA-approved kennel to ship any dog or cat as cargo or baggage, research what you need and acquire the kennel at least a month before you plan to depart. Let your pet sit in it, sleep in it, etc. so it picks up his scent and yours. You can put some newspaper or a lightweight blanket of theirs in the bottom so it’s more comfortable.
Special considerations for snub-nosed dogs and cats
Bulldogs, pugs and the many other breeds of short-nosed dogs (cats, too) can experience respiratory difficulties in any situation, due to the physical structure of their noses. The added stress and flying conditions can exacerbate those problems.
Stress causes airways to collapse to some extent, similar to what happens when you suck too hard on a straw. That can cause dogs to collapse or overheat. Snub-nose animals are often more sensitive to changes in air quality or temperature, which can be common on airplanes in the cabin as well as in the hold, even though these areas are pressurized and temperature-controlled.
For this reason, it’s important that any padding you add to the floor of your pet’s travel kennel not be so fluffy your guy can shove his nose under it, increasing risk of breathing problems. Learn more about how safe air travel is for snub-nosed dogs.
Consider bringing your pet onboard with you.
If your pet is small enough, they can probably travel right with you in the main cabin. Some airlines will not allow short-nosed animals to travel as excess baggage or cargo, but usually those restrictions don’t apply to in-cabin travel.
This option can significantly reduce your stress level, too, because instead of wondering how your pet is doing, you can talk to them and even pet them (no removing them from their carrier, though). You’ll need a leash – you can let your dog walk alongside you through terminals and take your dog or cat to the pet relief area to get some exercise when you have a layover.
Get with your vet early.
You have to follow specific timelines when completing official international pet health paperwork, but anything you can get out of the way early will lighten the last-minute load. Ensure your pet is in the best possible health to fly, because age and obesity can contribute to stress. And give them a fresh nail trim for safety and better footing in their carrier.
Try to relax yourself
Dogs and cats key in on your demeanor and emotions, and they take direction from you. If you’re freaking out about your move, they are more likely to do so, too. Following these tips will give both of you more confidence about the move and help you travel less stressfully.