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Is My Pet Healthy Enough For An International Move?

Published on: April 14, 2022  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

dog-wearing-maskRealistically, making an international move will require your pet to fly. Are they healthy enough for that experience? How can you tell? Like people, dogs and cats are individuals. Many of the factors that dictate whether your pet is healthy enough to fly are the same as factors we would apply to people, such as age and general health. But your pet’s specific breed and response to stress may play a role, too.

Short-term Health Conditions

Your pet could have a temporary condition, like an injury or illness, that makes travel inappropriate right now but would not preclude air travel once the problem has been cleared up. Fortunately, most country-to-country moves are not last-minute, so if your pet needs any elective medical procedures, you should have plenty of time to schedule those well in advance of departure.

In the case of unforeseen injury or illness, you may have to adjust your pet’s travel plans. This is one reason working with a professional animal transport company can provide precious peace of mind. They are there for you and your pet throughout the moving process, so they can step in to help when needed.

Pre-existing Health Conditions

If your pet has a more serious pre-existing health condition like diabetes, a heart murmur or something requiring daily medication, you should have a serious conversation with your vet. While many pets with pre-existing conditions travel safely, it's still a big decision that should not be taken lightly since there are inherent risks.

Vaccination Status

Immunizations such as rabies and other routine vaccines given to cats and dogs not only keep pets healthy by protecting them from contagious diseases, they help prove to airline and customs authorities that your pet is healthy enough for an international move. No one will accept unhealthy animals into their care, for obvious reasons.

Depending on your destination country, your pet may need additional vaccines or treatments prior to travel, which you can schedule with your vet as part of your moving preparations. Learn about the vaccinations your pet needs before an international move. Along with proof of vaccinations, your pet will need a USDA-endorsed international health certificate, which is designed to provide additional assurance of your pet’s overall good health (and compliance with your destination country's import regulations).

Other Pet Considerations

Aside from country or airline-specific regulations and requirements, there are pet-specific considerations you should discuss with your vet, because the implications differ for every animal. 

  • Age - Cats and dogs who are considered elderly or geriatric are riskier to consider traveling. While plenty of older pets travel perfectly fine - sometimes multiple times throughout their life - it's still something to discuss with your vet.
  • Breed - Brachycephalic or snub-nosed dogs and cats are always at an elevated risk because breathing is more difficult for them. They can also be more sensitive to heat and the stress of travel can greatly impact them. Do keep in mind that some airlines will not allow any or some brachycephalic breeds to travel either at all, during certain times of year or above certain temperatures. Snub-nosed dogs and cats do travel safely as cargo frequently, but you should still be aware of the risks. An experienced international pet shipper can help you make flight arrangements that work for your pet.


Even pets in their prime can suffer when it is very hot or cold. Quality, pet-friendly airlines are quite attentive to animals in their care, but sometimes delays occur over which no one has control. For that reason, some airlines will not allow animals to travel as cargo or accompanied baggage when temperatures are too extreme – typically above 85o or below 45o. This weather restriction applies to every airport location along your pet’s itinerary, so this can become an issue at virtually any time of year, depending on where you’re headed.


While dogs tend to be easier-going than cats, pets don’t love the idea of change, and a family move constitutes major change. You can prepare your pet for their trip by maintaining their daily routine as much as possible up until it’s time to leave, by giving her them of time to get acquainted with their travel kennel and by trying not to pass on your own pre-move jitters to your beloved furry companion.

The key to a healthy international move for your pet is to get with your vet as soon as you know you’ll be relocating. That way, you can understand your options and calmly make plans that will ensure maximum safety and comfort.

Starwood Animal Transport has rebranded to Starwood Pet Travel. We are still the same great company with the best team, just now with a slightly different name.