Taking Your Pet to a Developing Nation

We all love and want the very best for our pets. However, bringing a beloved canine/feline friend to your next International Teaching assignment could prove to be a bad idea, unless of course, you come prepared.

If your plans include relocating to a fully developed nation where pets are cherished and support services abound, you have little to worry about. If you’re headed to a developing nation, Read On! Inadvertently subjecting your pet to a situation that could jeopardize its health and safety CAN be avoided.

The Big 3
Nutrition, Veterinary Services & Pet Daycare

Nutrition is a major concern when you move with a pet to a developing nation. High-quality pet foods we take for granted in the West are not generally available in places where the majority of the populace may not be able to afford quality nutrition for themselves. What will your pet eat on a daily basis? Can it live on leftovers? It may be wise to start now introducing your pet to meals that you concoct. Acclimating your pet to a new diet well before the move will make mealtime a familiar event and help ease the transition into a new environment.

Veterinarian Care is equally as important as meeting your pet’s nutritional needs. Be aware that veterinarians at your overseas destination may be well experienced treating goats, sheep, cattle or even elephants, but have limited experience with canines or felines. If your pet falls sick or hurt, you’ll want to be prepared. Bring basic pet meds with you such as flea and tick medication, antibiotics and worming medicine. Entire lists can be found online.

Pet Daycare should be well thought out. What will your pet be doing while you’re teaching during the day? You could leave your dog alone in the house or backyard (weather permitting) or under the care of a housekeeper or nanny, but chances are your household help has never had a pet dog, may not even like cats, and is not attuned to how to care for a pet who’s a member of your family. Finding help that reacts positively to your pet on introduction may be the best way to go. A maid who hides behind you when your dog approaches is a poor choice.

Other Considerations

Beyond the BIG 3 — nutritional needs, Veterinary Services and daycare requirements — it’s important to carefully research the country/city of proposed destination. Familiarize yourself with local customs and idiosyncrasies that could cause you to decide it’s not the right place for a pet.

Take for example Cambodia. Over 100 dog-meat restaurants have been identified in Phnom Penh, the capital. How safe would your dog be if it got out on its own?

In Ecuador, Thailand and other developing nations, street dogs abound. Would you fear for your dog’s safety while out on a leash?

In certain parts of the world, dogs and cats are seen as “dirty” beasts and to be avoided. Your pet may not do well with constant rejection, not to mention the displeasure of your neighbors.

Quarantines should certainly not be overlooked. Up to 30 days or more of confinement upon entry into many countries is common. Pets have died in quarantine from neglect, and not just in developing nations. Find out about the requirements for bringing your pet back into your home country. Careful research can prevent tragedy.

   A Recipe for Success 

♦ Up-to-date, first-hand information is the best way to assure a good experience for both you and your pet. Contact teachers with pets who are currently at the school you are considering for your next career move. Ask for some names and contact information at your interview. Have a prepared list of questions and concerns.

♦ The interviewer at a Recruiting Fair may well have brought a family dog or cat with them to the school and can be a wealth of information.

♦ Don’t be shy! Post questions on this Discussion Board and to the ISR Open Forum. Other teachers who have moved overseas with pets are sure to respond with insightful advice.

  Have something to add to this Discussion? Please scroll down to comment, pose questions &/or reply to teachers seeking information.

13 thoughts on “Taking Your Pet to a Developing Nation

  1. My pup, adopted in the US, has now traveled through Nepal, Poland, Spain, and Italy.

    Probably the most challenging move was out of the US. Nepal’s government, which is relatively young, did not clearly communicate what papers my dog would need. Result: two hours at the airport, waiting for a government vet to show up. All that noise I’ve written about in my blog (linked).

    Though Nepal was challenging, with its packs of feral dogs, splintery chicken bones littering the street, and general hygiene issues, both me and my buddy came out stronger from the experience. She learned to be cool around other dogs and people (her shelter trauma was pretty intense before). Plus the country had lots of wide open spaces for off-leash hikes (just be careful of the wildcats). She loved the HHH runs and she was well pampered by our dog walker.

    Good news, once your pet is in the EU with their up-to-date pet passport (yes it’s a thing), travel options are wide open. She can freely travel to any EU country, and most planes and trains are happy to accommodate. Italy has proven to be especially welcoming – dogs are allowed in nearly all bars and restaurants, even grocery stores!


  2. I have traveled with pets extensively. I had one dog that traveled to 5 countries (“rescued” in Belize, lived in US, Germany, Thailand, and Costa Rica). He lived to be 14 1/2. He lead a greater life overseas in the developing countries in terms of pet care (my maid was in tears when I left wit her babies), better opportunities for exercise, and good vet care. He encountered mean street dogs in Thailand, but I would carry small amounts of dog food with me that I would give to these dogs until we were all accepted into the pack. Many street dogs would play with him and my other dog (4 countries), and follow us home just to hang out; then they would leave.

    My cat came to all 5 countries and then had his final resting place in Ghana (age 14).

    I’ve had other pets that have not lived as long, but not necessarily due to the country we were living in. In fact one dog was able to live longer because I could afford surgery for her cancer in a LEDC as opposed to being in the US.

    Challenges have been transit with the airlines (that always stresses me most), ticks, fleas and mosquitoes in the tropics, places for the pets to wander fee for great exercise.

    I would suggest trying Facebook for pet owner groups in the country you will move to. The advice and friendships can be highly important.

    It’s also a great way to connect with the locals. I walk my dogs every day at least 3 times. It means I get out into my neighborhood and have made friends. It’s a great way to connect to local children and demonstrate loving ways to treat animals. It gives you a starting point to have cultural discussions around animals with adults. There are people I met, especially disadvantaged people, that I probably would not have connected with if it weren’t for my dogs. I’ve learned so much from them and it’s given me opportunities to help these communities as a friend instead of as a “foreign white stranger”.

    It can be a real blessing living overseas in LEDCs with your pets. Research and prepare for challenges, but anticipate the good.


  3. I got my dog Jingles from an animal shelter in Tunisia. He has travelled with me back and forth to Canada, then to Indonesia and now China. We actually drove from one location in southern China to our current home in Shanghai (18 hours!) because it was the summer and the domestic airlines didn’t want to take him. As another has already said, with enough money and willingness to jump through hoops, it is possible to have your pet with you no matter where you teach. And he is my baby so I would never leave him behind!


  4. We have had dogs in Paraguay, Ecuador, China, Kazakhstan and Korea. They have all received excellent vet care and had access to quality food. Generally the vet care is cheaper than in N. America, while quality food is more expensive. Moving between countries can be a pain with all the bureaucracy, but as long as you keep your dog’s veterinary records unto date, there is usually no problem. Our dogs were always a major part of our family and, while moving them could be challenging at times, we also learned that there is no problem that cannot be solved if you are willing to throw some money at it.


  5. I’ve had animals in Turkey, Egypt, Mongolia and China, and always found excellent vet care and good-quality pet food. In fact, my vet in Turkey was probably the best vet I’ve ever had, and saved my cat’s life when he had kidney issues.


  6. Developing Nation is a rather archaic term to use for a group of educators. And not terribly useful. We work in cities, not labeled countries. And cities may not be representative of the DC label.


    1. Cities do not make the rules regarding pets, countries and Governments do. Regardless of how developed or progressive a city may be it all boils down to the government and how it chooses to enforce social norms.
      Bangkok is a good example. While very modern, once you leave the city much of Thailand is plagued by stray dogs and endemic rabies.


    2. This is usually the case, but I have seen exceptions where a city might have regulations in addition to those of the country. For example in Beijing, people within the 4th Ring Road are not supposed to have larger sized dogs. (They do anyway…)


  7. Over the span of 25 years abroad, our family have had four different dogs – usually Labradors. All our dogs were acquired while living overseas and moved with us from Kenya to Morocco to Pakistan to Saudi Arabia and back to Morocco. We always found adequate to excellent veterinary care and our dogs traveled (flew) from country to country without incident. The most important thing is how much our dogs were part of our family and how important they were to our children, growing up. The kids may have changed countries and languages and homes many times, but the family unit always included our pups, and this made the many moves much easier.


  8. Anyone ever owned a dog in Peru? I’m moving there in the fall with my doggo and just want to know more about the dog culture there.


    1. Where in Peru? We live in Lima and our Vet is excellent, you can get premium dog food but it is true that there are a lot of stray dogs, especially in some areas of the city. Most people buy their dogs, but slowly this changing and adoption is getting more common. As is all places with hotter climate there are more fleas and ticks all year am round that in coldest climates.


    2. Hello, Pamela! I am relocating to Lima in June. Maybe our dogs can be friends! And I would very much appreciate a recommendation for a good vet.


  9. Interesting article. I took my cat to Romania and then to Pakistan. He had a good life. The paper work to get the cat in and out of Romania and into Pakistan was a nightmare. Also, the trip was hard on the cat. He loved Pakistan. He would roam the neighborhood and no one or animal bothered him. A dog would be a bigger responsibility for sure.


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