Moving Abroad with the Family Pet

October 19th, 2007 Posted in resources, travel

Written by Shanie

What do you do if you want to live abroad but have a pet?

Well, obviously, the two options of leaving the pet behind or not living out your dreams are not choices.

So what do you do? How does the family pet(s) become an ex-pat too?

It depends on the pet.

We moved here with our dog, as is obvious from other posts. It was vital to me that my canine son was able to make it to Argentina safely, with no quarantine and little emotional stress. He was ten at the time, so not a young pup.

Argentina does not quarantine. This fact definitely made me feel better when we were deciding to move or not. Click here for a great site that details foreign countries and their protocols for importing an animal.

When I was researching the different requirements for Bergen, I was initially told the wrong information by the Argentine consulate. According to them, I needed to make sure that Bergen had his current rabies shots. In the states, at his age, he needed that particular vaccine every three years. I thought that I was fine. But what they forgot to add was that the shot had to be at least a month and no more than one year old upon entering the country.

We had been canceled by our small town vet in Truckee right before we were to go in to get Bergen’s certificate of health. This turned out to be a blessing. We decided to use a vet in Los Angeles, where we were flying out from, due to the last minute urgency. The vet that our friend recommended happened to be a specialist in flying large animals internationally. He informed us that we needed to have the rabies shot immediately and that we would have to wait thirty days before we could enter Argentina.

To say the least, the stress level became heightened. That we were not all going to be able to travel together, that I would have to stay back in the states with no place to live for a month and Jamie would have to start our new life in Argentina on his own was not how we wanted our new lives to begin.

Thankfully, with a little Starbucks Gift Certificate persuasion, we convinced the vet to back date the shot for us.

So to make a long story short. Make sure you really research the requirements for the particular country of choice.

With the actual flight there are three options.

  1. the animal can be flown underneath with the luggage in a crate
  2. the animal can be transfered by a company specializing in such matters. They will usually pick the animal up, deal with all of the paperwork and deliver the pet to its destination.
  3. fly with the animal at your feet as a search and rescue dog if your pet is certified. Bergen flew as an avalanche rescue dog for one of our local ski areas. Planes, by law, are required to allow service animals in the cabin. Bergen sat at our feet and slept the entire flight. The flight attendants were very impressed, as was I.
  4. if you own a small animal (I believe under 10 pounds, but, of course, check with your chosen airline) it is possible for it to fly with you in the cabin, under the seat.

For us, Bergen traveling as a search and rescue dog was extremely important. For his well-being the option of being in a crate with luggage wasn’t worth it and Mom (me) was having a hard time with the other choice of him flying with someone else.

Traveling to live in a foreign country with the family pet is definitely do-able. We are friends with a couple that lives in San Rafael full time. They brought their four dogs, two cats and two horses with them. They flew together as a family and all crossed customs together (though the horses had quarantine in Buenos Aires for a month).

The animal family members are an important component to the happiness of living abroad. We call Bergen “The Glue” because of his amazing ability to put a smile on our face in times of strife.

So, if you are thinking of living internationally, don’t be afraid of bringing the furry family members. With a little homework and preparation, you’ll be glad your “Glue” is there too.

Bergen hanging with his brothers and sister on the farm (he is the handsome doggy in the foreground)

  1. 52 Responses to “Moving Abroad with the Family Pet”

  2. By Kathie Coull on Oct 7, 2008

    Love your story about your dog(s). How nice to know that you can take it with you!
    We brought all our critters (no horses, though) when we moved to Mexico ten years ago.
    Now I know who you are, SoulSkier! After all those posts on TA, I’ve put a name with a personality.
    I look forward to meeting you when he and I are down in December. I’ve already made reservations for 31 December at the LlaoLlao.
    I just got the confirmation today.
    Thanks for your post & the wonderful pictures.
    Kathie Coull

  3. By Patagonia on Oct 7, 2008

    Thanks for the note see you in 2009, Jamie

  4. By leelou on Dec 2, 2008

    In your list of travel options, you forgot to mention that if you dog is under a certain weight they can travel with you in the cabin in a airline certified travel bag.
    Also, I think your third option is misleading. It is VERY unusual that large dogs are allowed to travel with the passenger as “search and rescue” dogs. It would be helpful if you write more about that.

  5. By Patagonia on Dec 2, 2008

    Hi leelou,

    Thanks so much for your comment. You are completely right — I did forget to include information on a small animal fitting under the seat. That is an important point.

    As far as a large dog flying as search and rescue animal, we had a friend that traveled throughout the world with his domesticated wolf.

    Our dog Bergen isn’t particularly small (he weighs 45 pounds and is stocky) and there were no issues in our experience.

  6. By Mysharonany on Dec 2, 2008

    Great story and I love your site. Very psyched to see that your dog at 45 lbs (maybe a pound or two larger than my own) was able to be in the cabin with you. What airline did you fly? As some have different rules regarding pets in the cabin.

    I am looking forward to reading more of your posts (also loved the post about dialing cell phones. . .what a nightmare that was when we were in BA this past October).

    Anyway .. looking to make the move from Costa Rica to BA in May and it looks like you have a lot of great information for us to look through. Thanks!!

  7. By Patagonia on Dec 3, 2008


    Thanks for the nice comments.

    We flew on Delta airlines, they were really cool about the whole experience.

    Best of luck on your move, Jamie

  8. By Maggie on Dec 17, 2008

    Hi, I have a question about your dogs…when you leave bariloche, say for a day trip to el bolson or something, do you take them all with you? Are there places that watch dogs overnight there? Do you take them most places you go or leave them at home? We have 3 dogs that would be moving with us and we just want to work out everything before moving. Thanks!

  9. By Patagonia on Dec 17, 2008

    Hi Maggie,

    We usually take the doggies with us. I believe there is a kennel of some sort in Bariloche, though we have never used it.

    Suerte, Jamie

  10. By Maggie on Dec 18, 2008

    do you ever worry about them mixing with the stray dogs? do you let them walk freely or on leashes? Thanks so much for your help!

  11. By Patagonia on Dec 18, 2008

    Hi Maggie,

    The stray dogs in Argentina are amazingly kind. The strays and owned dogs get along and there is not much of the alpha dog fight syndrome, maybe because the thought of a leash for most Argentines doesn’t even come up. We walk with our guys on leash like we did in the States; on leash in the city and at trail heads but off leash once deeper in the forest.


  12. By Jim Anderson on Mar 13, 2009

    It is great finding that you made it safe with your pets into Argentina. I like to share with your reader that we also come here years ago from Canada and Brazil to make it our home.

    To share our love and expertise with pets PETSVENTURA company was established in 2003 to provide pet relocation and other pets’ services.

    Jim Anderson

  13. By Patagonia on Mar 13, 2009

    Thanks for the information Jim. Hopefully Pets Ventura can assist those interested in relocating with their kids. Suerte, Jamie

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  18. By Lilly Lorens on May 22, 2015

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  20. By Angela on Jul 7, 2015

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  2. Oct 19, 2007: Pet Dog » Moving Abroad with the Family Pet
  3. Oct 19, 2007: Pet Health » Moving Abroad with the Family Pet
  4. Mar 15, 2008: » Blog Archive » Bergen’s 13th Birthday

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