Moving pets overseas: a stress-free guide

By Rebecca Arnold – Pet Express Customer and Fur mom to Diego

Moving overseas is stressful. There’s packing, selling things, organising visas, finding somewhere to live… the list is endless. Throw a pet into the mix and you’ve got the perfect recipe for elevated blood pressure.

After moving internationally with our globe-trotting pup, Diego, a few times, I’ve collected some experience, so here are my tips for reducing the stress of moving pets overseas!

Use a pet transport company for peace of mind

For our most recent move, there was no question in our mind: we needed help from experts with plenty of experience moving pets overseas. After extensive research and asking around in some online communities, we landed on Pet-Express.

They’re handling all the paperwork and helping walk us through the lengthy checklist of vaccinations, vet appointments and treatments that come with pet transportation. We also know that they have excellent relationships with the airlines so our fur baby is well looked after from start to finish.

While it’s still worrying putting a dog on a long plane ride, having Pet-Express handle Diego’s overseas move gives us peace of mind.

Get your pet used to the carrier or crate early on

Whether you’re flying overseas or driving to your new country, there’s no doubt that your dog or cat will be spending a lot of time in a confined space. Get them used to their crate or carrier well in advance of the move date so that it becomes a comfortable space.

We’ve been enticing Diego into his crate with treats and toys, and have a familiar blanket and dog bed in there so he knows that it’s a safe space. When it comes time to put him on the plane, we know that he’ll at least know this space.

Keep your pet’s schedule

I know you’re busy with the move and that events can become overwhelming, but it’s important to keep your pet’s schedule as much as possible. Maintain their normal meal times and take them for their daily walks.

In amongst the boxes that are no doubt filling your house, set aside some time to play with your dog or cat – don’t ignore them or treat them like a nuisance, as that will just increase their stress level, something you definitely don’t need as you’re moving pets.

Put aside their favourite things

Packing can become crazy – who hasn’t put aside things that must not be packed only to realise they’re now at the bottom of a box somewhere? (Ahem… happened to me when I accidentally packed the title documents for the car I needed to sell the next day!)

Make sure you put aside your pet’s favourite blanket and toys so that they have some familiar items.

And remember not to pack their vaccination records and other important documents – you’re going to need those!

For those pet items that you are packing, clearly mark those boxes so that you can easily find their special things when your boxes arrive in your new home.

Get your pets out of the house on packing day

Consider finding someone to pet sit on the day or two that it takes to pack up your house.

Number 1, it means you don’t have a dog or cat running under your feet and getting into things (Diego particularly loves to chase rolls of packing tape, something we quickly discovered on our first move!).

Number 2, it reduces the stress on them. Remember, your pet has no idea what’s going on, and seeing everything in your house get packed into boxes for your big move overseas only increases their confusion.

Send them to daycare or find a pet sitter through Rover.com who will care for your baby for the day.

Get them used to their new home

Moving pets overseas doesn’t end on moving day! What about when you arrive in your new home? Before you unpack anything else, get their toys out and put them in a special area of the house. Let them spend time sniffing around every inch of the house. Find a dog park nearby or go for a walk around your new home so that they can get to know the neighbourhood.

If you’re moving your pet overseas, these tips will help to make the process just that little bit smoother for Fido or Fluffy.


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