Minimising Stress on Pets When Relocating Overseas

Moving abroad with pets can be an incredibly stressful and worrying time for many. Not only do you have to think about all of things you need to check off your list, but relocating your pet comes with so many additional tasks as well.

Yet, most of the emotions you are likely to experience are more to do with concern for your pet’s wellbeing. Clearly your pet will be subject to a significant amount of stress during this process and obviously you can’t explain to them what is going on!  

However, although you aren’t able to communicate and reassure your pet, there are some actions you can take to minimise their stress levels throughout the relocation process.

Country Regulations

It’s really important to know what regulations and restrictions are in place for the country you’re moving to. Each country has their own specific rules on the import of pets, so you’ll need to know what’s possible before you commit to a certain country. For example, some countries require your pet to stay in quarantine for a period of time, while others have certain breeds of animals that are simply not allowed to be imported under any circumstances.

Knowing this early on will avoid potential problems and unnecessary stress later on.  

Get Organised!

Be sure to do as much pre-planning and research as possible, from knowing when to schedule veterinary checks and vaccinations to completing paperwork for their pet passport or exportation certificate. Take a methodical approach and give yourself a realistic timescale for organising everything required for your move.

When we are disorganised and short for time, it can be easy to succumb to the overwhelmingness and miss important information and steps, all of which could be detrimental to achieving a smooth relocation abroad, for both you and your pets!

Manage Your Emotions

Dogs in particular are extremely sensitive to our emotions; they can easily pick up on changes to our body language which causes an emotional response in them – when you look happy and excited, they anticipate something fun is going to happen and match your emotion.

If you can keep on top of things in an organised fashion, your stress levels will naturally lower and, as a result, so too will your pet’s.

Pet Carrier Acclimatisation

It can be useful to purchase your airline-approved pet carrier as soon as possible. This will give you plenty of time to get your dog or cat used to it.

When introducing your pet to the carrier for the first time, first put their favourite blanket inside so that it smells familiar; encourage them inside with plenty of praise, treats, or toys. Once inside, leave the door to the carrier open and allow them to come and go. When your pet is showing signs of being relaxed in and around the carrier, you can shut them in for short periods of time, continuing to praise them and gradually increasing the length of time over a few weeks.

Ensuring it is a positive experience from the beginning will do wonders for how settled they are during the transportation stage. If this can be their new bed for the next few months, even better!   

Calming Pet Products

If your pet is especially anxious by nature, you’ll likely benefit from discussing this with your veterinarian so they can discuss some potentially suitable solutions.  

For example, there are certain products specifically designed to help calm your pet such as sprays that contain naturally calming pheromones and in some cases you may be able to use mild sedatives, but only on advice and prescription from your vet.

Moving Day

If you’ve undertaken the steps to acclimatising your pet with its carrier, moving day should already be less stressful for all involved.

Kit out the carrier with your pet’s favourite blanket, toys, and even an item of your clothing which has your smell on it. If you’ve decided to use any calming products, spray these around the carrier and bedding.

Give them plenty of treats today and keep yourself as calm as possible!

Arrival

Whilst the worst is definitely over, your pet still needs to settle into its new home. New environments can be scary for our pets – there are no familiar smells and everything is different.Consumer Resource Guide

The best way to settle your pet into a new home is to introduce them to one small room to begin with, rather than overwhelm them with the whole house. Put some of their toys, blankets, bedding, etc. together with some of your own belongings into a quiet room and spend some time in there with them.

Once they are displaying relaxed body language, you’ll want to get them settled back into their normal routine as soon as possible. This can obviously take longer for cats than dogs and you will need to ensure your cat is completely at ease before attempting to let them outside.

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