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Top tips for travelling with a senior dog

Senior dogs hold a special place in our hearts. They’ve been with the family for so many years, and it is difficult to imagine relocating to a different country without them. Senior dogs are set in their ways and may not be the best travel companions, but with planning and the right preparation, your older dog can take to the skies like a pro.

Travelling long haul on a flight across the world can be stressful for dogs of all ages, and it could be especially stressful for senior and geriatric dogs. If you are relocating to a different country and want to take your senior pooch along, there are certain things you can do to make your doggy’s trip extremely comfortable and stress-free.

How old is too old?

Dogs age much faster than humans and the general rule is that the larger the breed, the shorter its lifespan. Depending on the breed, dogs are considered senior generally around the time they turn seven. They become slower, paunchier and their muzzles start greying noticeably.

It is commonly thought that older pets cannot withstand the stress of long flight, but if your senior dog is in good health, there’s no reason why he or she cannot relocate to your new home with you. Every dog ages differently; the decision to relocate your dog must be based on his or her health and stamina.

Talk to the vet

Make your pet’s vet a partner in your relocation process. Get a complete veterinary check-up, including a geriatric exam that will assess your pet’s health and vitality. Age is just a number and some dogs age better than others. A detailed veterinary examination will give your vet an exact picture of your doggie’s health and whether he or she is okay to travel.

Older dogs tend to develop kidney disease and diabetes, and such dogs need special care while travelling. If your senior pet is suffering from chronic conditions such as arthritis and heart disease, speak to your vet about how to manage it during travel.

Start planning early

Moving a pet overseas, whatever the age, is a lengthy process that involves paperwork, health tests, vaccinations and a plethora of other details. If you have to relocate a senior dog, it is recommended to start the process earlier than usual.

Start with the health assessment and get the vet’s go ahead first. Make sure the health assessment also includes a test of your pet’s cognitive functions to assess his or her mental health better. Check for typical age-related issues such as obesity, hypothyroidism, endocrine problems, dental issues, etc.

Obesity is a common condition in senior dogs. If your older pet falls in the obesity bracket, speak to the vet about healthy methods of losing weight. Obese dogs are at higher risk while travelling; it is important to help your pooch reach a healthy weight before you are due to fly.

Next, start crate training your pet so he or she will be comfortable in the crate and be able to spend the duration of the flight in the crate without distress. Make sure the crate is IATA approved and more importantly, the right size. Use positive reinforcement while crate training and make sure your pet associates the crate with happy memories.

Keep your senior pet’s vaccinations up to date. Most countries require a record of vaccinations and other health treatments before your pet can enter the country. Your pet will also need a microchip if he or she doesn’t already have one.

Plan the flight right

Your senior dog will have set patterns and may not respond well to change. Try taking a flight that will work best with his or her schedule. Avoid flights during extreme weather conditions – hot summer afternoons and cold winter mornings. Choose a flight that is direct, if possible, to avoid delays and long layovers. If you have to travel with your senior dog, it is best to avoid holidays and busy weekends for a stress-free experience.

Your senior dog might suffer from incontinence during the flight, especially if it is a long flight. Line the crate with absorbent puppy pads to make it comfortable for him or her. If you think your doggy is likely to be anxious on the flight, leave a familiar blanket or your t-shirt in the crate to comfort him or her.

If your older doggy is on medication for chronic issues, make sure you inform your pet travel specialist so that the medicine travels with the crate with clear instructions of dosage and when it has to be given.

Hire a pet relocation service

Transporting a senior dog successfully requires careful and precise planning. There are many regulations and little details that you need to comply with, and a competent pet relocation service can help you every step of the way, right from vaccinations to microchipping, from booking the most suitable flight on the best pet-friendly airline, and much more. If you are planning to travel with your senior dog, get in touch with Petraveller for the best possible travel plan.