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Relocating puppies to a new country: How old should they be and other questions answered

Relocating young puppies to a different country come with its own set of rules. Pet import rules for young puppies are slightly different from grown dogs. If you are planning to relocate your new puppy internationally, here are answers to some commonly asked questions.

How old should my puppy be before travelling internationally?

Most airlines around the world have rules in place while flying young puppies. The minimum age requirement is generally 15 weeks of age for international flights. Though different airlines have different minimum age rules, it is generally accepted that you cannot fly a pup that is younger than eight weeks. Many countries such as the UK and other countries in the EU do not permit unvaccinated puppies younger than the age of 12 weeks to enter the country.

Young puppies are vulnerable and have trouble eating and sleeping on their own. They crave the comforting presence of the mother and find it hard to be alone. Young puppies whine and cry, and are in distress when left alone for long periods of time, and hence it is advisable to wait for your puppy to become independent before taking him or her on an international trip.

Puppies younger than 15 weeks should not travel on international flights because they are not yet vaccinated, and their respiratory systems are not developed enough to handle a long haul flight in the cargo hold of the aeroplane. It is best to wait until your puppy turns at least 16 weeks old before travelling on an international flight.

What vaccinations does my puppy need before travelling?

If you are planning to relocate to a different country with a young puppy, you must bear in mind that most countries require your pup be vaccinated for rabies before travelling. Given that the rabies vaccine is administered to a dog at around 12 weeks, it is very likely that your puppy cannot travel before that.

Many countries require that the rabies vaccination be given 30 days before the date of travel. In such cases, your pup will be at least 16 weeks old before being eligible to travel overseas. In addition to the rabies vaccine, your puppy pal will need other mandatory vaccines such as the DHLPP vaccine, the parainfluenza vaccine, and the measles vaccines. Each country has a different set of mandatory vaccines; remember to check the regulations for the country you are travelling to before making travel plans.

What should I feed my puppy before and during his travel?

Puppies have sensitive stomachs, especially if they have just been weaned. They need to eat small amounts of food at short intervals, and hence, it is not advisable to travel with very young puppies on long-haul flights.

When you travel with your puppy, make sure he or she is fed not later than four hours before the flight. Remember not to change your puppy’s diet before or during the travel; you wouldn’t want a sick puppy on the plane. Make sure your puppy is well hydrated before the flight and leave water in the water bowls attached to the door.

How can I make the crate comfortable for my puppy?

Line the crate with absorbent puppy pads and place a soft blanket on the pads. You can keep an old t-shirt or a sock with your smell inside; this will make your pup feel secure and comfortable. Get the crate a few weeks before the date of travel and allow your puppy to get acclimatised to the crate. Crate training is crucial for young puppies because leaving familiar surroundings in an unfamiliar crate for a long duration could leave him or her traumatised.

Are there any flight risks that I should know about?

Most airlines refuse to board puppies that are less than 15 weeks old for international travel because young puppies do not have fully developed lungs and could suffer from respiratory distress during the flight.

Extreme temperatures can be a cause for concern while flying very young animals as they cannot regulate body temperature effectively. It is best to avoid relocating your puppy during peak summer and winter months when the temperatures are extreme.

Unvaccinated puppies can contract infectious diseases such as canine distemper, canine influenza, parvovirus, etc.

What else should I know?

Most countries require your pet be microchipped before import. Make sure you implant an ISO-compliant 15 digit microchip before travel. Most countries also need a clean bill of health before entering the country. Young puppies tend to fall ill for various reasons, and your pup will not be allowed entry if he or she is not completely healthy. Take your pup to the vet and ensure he or she is healthy enough to travel before making plans.

Should I enlist the services of a professional pet relocation company to relocate my puppy?

Yes. Different countries have different rules and regulations for pet import. It is crucial for your puppy to fulfil all the country’s veterinary and documentary requirements for entry into the country. A lapse in following the regulations accurately could lead to denial of entry or extended quarantine time. Given these complexities, it is advisable to take the services of a professional pet relocation company while relocating your pup from one country to another.

If you are planning to travel to another country with your puppy or kitten, contact us for a detailed travel itinerary.