Thinking of relocating abroad with your pet? Here’s a handy to-do checklist, from our own experience:
1. Do your research. Beyond the costs of relocating your pet, look into the costs involved in keeping a pet at your destination of choice. Factor in vet costs, grooming, food/medicine costs, pet-sitting, permits, etc.
2. Health check no. 1. Do this at least three months before you leave, earlier if you can. We are very fortunate to have fairly affordable and excellent veterinary care in the Philippines.
Make sure your pet is clear of any conditions that could require expensive treatments. In my case, Hank had kidney stones surgically removed; he was neutered, and his teeth were cleaned six months before he flew out.
Ensure that your pet’s vaccinations are updated and make sure your vet knows your pet is relocating because they have to make sure certain vaccinations are administered within a certain period to meet export/import guidelines.
3. Microchip. While this wasn’t a requirement, being able to tag your pet with your information is good for your peace of mind. I had nightmares of a dog identical to Hank flying with him and getting switched à la “Mara Clara.”
4. Get your prescriptions ready. Another perk that we take for granted in Manila: easy access to prescription-only food/medicine. Hank is on prescription kibble to prevent kidney stones from reforming and I thought I just had to buy it from a vet’s clinic here like I would in Manila.
I was surprised to discover that I couldn’t buy his food or even his antitick chews without a prescription. Worse, Hank’s first vet, who had relocated to Los Angeles years ago, couldn’t even write me a prescription, not without me visiting his clinic and creating a record there.
Thankfully, a pet store I went to here accepted Hank’s prescriptions from his vet in Manila and issued me a refillable prescription card that I could use.
5. Get your pet crate-ready. If your pet will be flying on a plane as cargo, they will require a heavy-duty, aircraft-approved travel crate. Don’t expect to just stuff your pet in the crate when it’s time to leave and just hope for the best. Get them used to the crate as early as possible.
In Hank’s case, we made his crate as homey as possible and filled it with his favorite things: a snuggly bed, treats, and his favorite stuffed animal. Establishing the travel crate as a favorite spot for him ensured a smooth flight and, up to now, he crawls into the crate when he wants some me time.
6. Health check no. 2. This second health check is for the certificate required by both the Bureau of Animal Industry and US Customs to clear your pet for travel. The certificate shouldn’t be more than 10 days old. Look for a vet clinic well-versed in requirements for relocation to save you the hassle.
7. Pack light. Airlines have strict guidelines on what can’t go in the pet crate. Collars are taped to the top of the crate, and any choking hazards are not allowed inside. No thick beds or blankets are allowed, too.
Arianna recommended we send Hank with a thin but warm blanket, plus an old shirt that “smells like home,” but nothing with sentimental value in case anything gets lost or confiscated.
Because it was a long flight, they also asked that Hank not be fed anything six to eight hours before his flight to minimize in-crate accidents. They did give him a water bottle that lasted him the whole flight.
Whatever other stuff you need for your pet, make sure to pack in your own suitcase. —Tanya Ting