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Tips for dog travelling long-haul as we move back to the U.K.

(33 Posts)
Fluffylaflooff Sat 08-Jun-19 23:31:03

We’re about to relocate back to the U.K. from Asia and DH is taking our dog over by plane next week.

Quick background: we’ve know the dog for 2 years and love her v much but have only in the past couple of months got the OK to adopt her and bring her back to the UK. Her original owner lives elsewhere and the person who has been looking after her won’t be able to do so for much longer.

So, there’s been a flurry of activity getting ownership paperwork done and now in process of getting all the last-min pre-flight health certificates done. But, it’s the journey itself that’s bothering me. We have to take her to the airport and check her in almost 6 hours before the flight. After that, she won’t be able to get out and the flight itself is 12 hours. Then she has to be transported to the customs pick-up place the other end which takes another couple of hours. It sounds like she’s going to be in her crate for 20-22 hours, which seems a bit barbaric to me! She’s not allowed food but has a water bottle attached to the outside of the mesh door that she can drink from.

Has anyone done this with their dog? Can you advise me about anything that will make this less traumatic for her?

Thank you in advance, much appreciated

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AvocadosBeforeMortgages Sun 09-Jun-19 07:36:13

Have you started getting her used to the crate itself at all? You don't say if she's been previously crate trained or not. That would be my first priority.

Fluffylaflooff Sun 09-Jun-19 08:46:32

We were only able to pick up the crate last week but we've been getting her used to it. She's been in for a few periods at a couple of hours at a time. Goes in happily enough but gets distressed when she sees me leaving.

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Kernobhead Sun 09-Jun-19 08:50:46

My friend emigrated to South East Asia from the UK, and was able to take her dog in the plane with her. She flew business class and her dog was a small one. Not sure what airline, sorry. Could this be an option?

dudsville Sun 09-Jun-19 08:53:38

I would be grateful if you would keep this thread going through to the end. This kind of thing worries me so much that I think I would either have to wait to see through the dog's days or travel by boat so they could be with me and move about. I know someone who managed well but I do fear what I would do in similar circs. I think vets aren't allowed to prescribe any relaxants or sleeping tablets.

Fluffylaflooff Sun 09-Jun-19 09:17:40

DH is flying BA and their policy is that all dogs (even 'emotional support' pets go in the hold). Only exception is assistance dogs:

www.britishairways.com/en-hk/information/travel-assistance/travelling-with-pets

@dudsville - she's travelling overnight on Tuesday so I'll post afterwards and let you know how she gets on. I'm quite anxious about the whole thing but I keep reminding myself we'll be able to offer her a great life over there and life here for her over the summer and beyond wouldn't be ideal if she were to stay.

Any tips from anyone who has done this would be much appreciated!!

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OrchidInTheSun Sun 09-Jun-19 09:38:58

My friend's cat was sedated. I would do that. At least the poor dog will sleep then.

Fluffylaflooff Sun 09-Jun-19 09:41:39

@orchidinTheSun all the vets and airlines seem to advise against sedation because they say it can affect their breathing in the hold. Thanks for the suggestion though

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Booboostwo Sun 09-Jun-19 10:28:49

Try Zylkene for a few weeks before the flight. Put puppy pads in the crate as she may well pee in there. Write a note saying there is a dog in the hold (add photo for cuteness points) and ask a member of cabin crew if they can give it to the pilot - when I flew with my dog the lovely pilot came out of the cockpit pre flight to let me knowledge was aware of the extra passenger, had confirmed the dog was on board, and that it was a super cute puppy!

Fluffylaflooff Sun 09-Jun-19 10:34:17

@booboostwo appreciate you taking the time to post! That’s really helpful.

Unfortunately we don’t have a few weeks. It’s all had to happen quite last minute for one reason or another. She is flying overnight on Tuesday with DH. I did find a calming spray thing that sounds similar to what you suggest but in spray form. I thought we would try that.

That is a v cool suggestion re the post it note to the captain. To be honest, I’d assumed there would be other dogs travelling on the flight but perhaps not!

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GemmeFatale Sun 09-Jun-19 11:15:32

Our dog did a shorter flight (East coast USA to UK). We flew him with virgin so I don’t know about BA specifically, but he was fine. No sedation. He held his bladder the full time but had years of crate training pre flight.

You can find on YouTube hold noise videos. We played them quite loudly to him before the flight so he had a chance to get used to the noise of the aircraft.

At the uk end once they are brought into customs for checking they are (usually) released into (individual, indoor) runs so pup will have the chance to stretch his legs once he lands.

Pup will be fine. Give him a good set of exercise each day on he run up to the flight including the day of so he’s had the chance to get his energy out and feel tired. Make sure you have food when you collect him so he can eat. He will probably sleep (tired plus dark crate).

Don’t feel guilty. It’s short term discomfort at most for a good life with your family.

FiveShelties Sun 09-Jun-19 11:24:41

We have shipped dogs three times long haul. One had epilepsy and did UK to NZ without a fit. He was fine on collection, very tired and hungry. My other dog has done NZ to UK and back to NZ, each time she was fine. Just tired and hungry of course. All three times we were told that they are not to be sedated in any wsy. They were vet checked at the airport both on departure and arrival.

I think they all coped really well, my bank balance took a huge hit, it is very expensive! I hope your dog travels well☺

OrchidInTheSun Sun 09-Jun-19 12:23:39

Sorry that was a long time ago. I didn't know the advice had changed.

Fluffylaflooff Sun 09-Jun-19 12:45:38

@GemmeFatale & @FiveShelties - thanks so much, your posts have really helped me to stop freaking out. She does tend to flake out if we walk her a long way and I've got the afternoon off so should be able to take her for a good long hike so she's pretty wiped by the time we travel. And @FiveShelties - it costs a bloomin' fortune doesn't it?! I can't believe the number of additional charges that we keep finding out about.

@orchidinthesun - yes, I'd heard of people doing that and I didn't know until I checked that it wasn't advised any more.

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mrsjoyfulprizeforraffiawork Sun 09-Jun-19 14:51:10

I flew my Greek dog to UK with BA from Athens so I know what they are like (expensive, intransigent). I had to drop her off at Cargo at 12.00 midday for a 7.00 pm flight. Make sure you have enough water for her when you drop her off - my dog had finished her water supply as we'd had to journey 5 hours in 40 degrees heat to get to the airport and I had to make a fuss to get the airline to refill her water before she travelled. You have to take the collar off them and any bedding you put in the travel box is weighed with box and dog and charged accordingly (however, I did not consider it fair to leave her without padding). Be warned that, when you get to Heathrow, you will have a long wait for your dog at the Animal Centre. They are collecting lots of animals from various flights, they then unload them in the Centre, check them and their paperwork and wash out their travel crates (apparently they ALL, regardless of how short the journey, pee etc in their crates). When we arrived at the Animal Centre, I was the first owner to show up - even so, we had to wait ages and when eventually she came out (first one out), I had not seen her for about 22 hours (apart from her large white bottom visible in the box as it was unloaded from plane onto conveyor belt when I was looking back out of the terminal window as I went to passport control - at least I knew she was still alive!). I'm pretty sure my dog had a very scary time (she was always terrified by loud noises) but she made it and I never had to take her anywhere by plane again. Someone mentioned airlines that allow your dog in the cabin - there are a few but usually the dog has to be very small and they and their box have to be able to fit under a seat, so this rules out most dogs. BA never allow them in the cabin.

mrsjoyfulprizeforraffiawork Sun 09-Jun-19 14:55:24

Also, unless things have changed there is very unlikely to be any other animal travelling on that flight - BA informed me that they only take one animal on one flight per day (specific time so we could not go earlier in the day) and if another animal was already booked on that flight, I would have to wait until the following day's flight (if it was free) to book us on. I'm pretty sure the captain will definitely know he has an animal in the hold! I can remember having a flight delay once in London when someone's boxer was going bananas in the hold and the owners were being asked to go and help sort it out, but in loads of flights in my lifetime (I'm fairly old), I only had this once so take heart.

FortunaMajor Sun 09-Jun-19 15:27:35

I used to work for a handling agent, so the people who did the loading/unloading for animals if they were travelling.

The staff are very aware of ensuring correct loading and informing the captain and making sure it is in the flight paperwork.

Have a look at crate funnels as if there was one available we would use it to give water and if we could access refillable bottles then would always refill/top up.

If we knew there was a delay from unloading to getting transported to the animal hub then we would bring the crate into the staff room so they had company and were out of the weather especially if it was really hot/cold/wet.

The gate staff who scan your boarding passes liaise very closely with the person who is responsible for the flight paperwork/loading and they will often be at the gate ahead of boarding so should be able to confirm that your dog is loaded/ok. Get to the gate early and speak to them if you are very concerned.

HollyBollyBooBoo Sun 09-Jun-19 15:42:00

Our lab has been to Canada and back and to the USA.

Definitely do not sedate. BA said they wouldn't even accept him if they suspected this.

There is very little you can do to prep them really other than get them used to the crate. It's not great for them to be cooped up for so long but it's a one off. Lots of calmness and hugs at the other end x

FiveShelties Sun 09-Jun-19 15:59:33

We collected our dog from Heathrow and drove back to Manchester, stopping regularly to do a little walk and wee. We got back to our brand new house and she ran upstairs and went to wee on the carpet! Well she christened the new carpet, but she was safe and well and really that was all that mattered.grin

TropicPlunder Mon 10-Jun-19 00:35:31

We brought our dog from east Africa to the UK last year. All went well, and very glad we did it!
A night flight is good, ours was too. I made the crate into our dog's bed, and she was sleeping in it with the door open every night, and using it to travel in the car with door shut. I used adaptil spray on her bedding, and put some of our clothing in with her.
I was able to get a security pass at the airport when I dropped her off at cargo, so I could stay with her. Very relaxed country, and they let me walk her all around the airport grounds before I left to get my flight... so managed to leave her just 2-3 hours before flight. Might be worth asking if you can do this?
I know you don't have much time, but I tried to get my dog used to a 'uk' way of life in advance.....going to cafes, on walks, car journeys etc... I wish I had let her meet more dogs before arriving here, as she's still a frustrated greeter of other dogs.
I really hope all goes ok. My dog adapted really quickly and well and I'm so glad we brought her. It was one night in a box, traded against the rest of her life safe and happy with us

Fluffylaflooff Tue 11-Jun-19 03:15:48

Apologies for the radio silence. Have had a manic couple of days trying to get everything sorted for the journey (few last-min paperwork issues, v bureaucratic where we are!) and a lot of work on.

Your responses were really helpful. Thank you so much, reading about all your experiences has made me significantly less anxious about the whole thing. The dog knows something is up, she's been seriously clingy these last couple of days but I've done the following:
- given her some crate time
- got her a different kind of water bowl (she seemed to be struggling with the rabbit style one)
- made the crate cosy and shoved in a tshirt that I slept in last night!
- brought some kind of doggy aromatherapy spray that's meant to calm them
- carved out time for a long walk this afternoon so that she's super tired tonight.

I think she'll absolutely loathe the whole thing but will probably be ok. I'll post tomorrow when (hopefully!) she has landed safely.

Thanks again mumsnetters!

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SquashedToes Tue 11-Jun-19 03:40:54

Try not to worry too much, from what I understand it's worse for us than it is for them! We flew our dog from UK to Australia which was much longer (I think the flying time was 26 hours, so with loading and collection he would have been in the crate for much longer). He had to stay secured in the crate the whole time even during the stop in Dubai, and he was ok. The shipping company said that most dogs settle well and sleep it out.

I definitely don't think he particularly enjoyed it but he was fine. Pretty relived to see us, but that was after a 10 day stay in quarantine and an onward flight too. I expect your dog will sleep it out after a nice walk.

spellingtest Tue 11-Jun-19 09:10:06

Good luck. Bet you can't wait until it's all over.

stucknoue Tue 11-Jun-19 09:41:23

They are pretty resilient - there's been a long running documentary on Heathrow's animal reception centre and they are super caring and take the dogs out of the crate straight away into kennels. Just triple check all your paperwork and that the chip is reading before you fly because that's how serious delays occur. My uncle relocated 2 dogs from Europe to the USA and they were fine

Fluffylaflooff Wed 12-Jun-19 15:45:18

For those who have been following this thread, just a quick update to say that she landed safely in London this morning. DH had long wait at customs and she was v happy to see him eventually but had obviously been well looked after in the interim! Thank you again to everyone who took the time to post with advice and reassurance- Mumsnet at its very best smile

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