Before we even visited Scotland in 2017, I was researching the process of bringing dogs over, trying to determine if moving to Scotland was even an option, just in case we loved it. No matter how much we loved Scotland we knew if the dogs couldn’t make it, or if they had to be quarantined, then the move wouldn’t be an option for us. Our dogs aren’t expendable members of our family, they stay with us. This post isn’t to tell you how to get your dogs over, though on my links page I do provide a link to a post that gives you links to start your research. The purpose of this post is to share an overview of our experience bringing our dogs to, and having them in, Scotland.
I spent countless hours researching the process of bringing dogs into the UK. I looked at pet travel websites, the UK government website (of course), other blogs, youtube videos, news articles, statistical information regarding animal travel, expat forums, airline websites, anything I could find. I knew that if we flew them into the UK they had to go as cargo and initially I hated that idea and it wasn’t an option; however, after all of the research I did I determined it was the safest and least traumatic option for our dogs. I also didn’t previously realise that there is a separate live animal area in the plane that is pressurized and temperature controlled to match the main cabin. The other options were to fly them in cabin into Paris and travel via ground from there to Scotland or to take them on a cruise ship over. Those options are really good for some people, but knowing my dogs’ needs they weren’t the right options for them, so flying the dogs it was.
I had a peace about the dogs getting to us safely, I knew they’d be ok, I trust that feeling when I have it but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t horribly anxious about them being in the care of strangers for two days (they had a 24 hour layover in Frankfurt). I should mention here that we had arranged for our dogs to arrive in Scotland three days after us, there’s several reasons why but I won’t go into all that now. They did make it to us perfectly fine but I know it was a stressful journey and I would never put them through that again. Fortunately, if we ever had to move back to the US I could keep them in cabin with me at least, they’d remain in my care.
I loved our pet travel agent, that company really did an amazing job. What I didn’t love is that the company that they had contracted to bring the dogs to SeaTac Airport was not so great (Dog Gone Taxi). The owner wasn’t friendly, which if I didn’t have that peace I mentioned earlier I would have insisted on another company. The guy who picked them up said he wouldn’t have time to walk them before their flight… Are you kidding?! They had to be at the airport four hours before their flight and you’re not walking them?! The positive is that they were responsible for attaching the paperwork to the crate, being accountable for the dogs’ tickets, etc. and they didn’t mess anything up there. Again, this was just the people bringing the dogs from my mom’s place to the airport, our actual pet travel company (Airpets America) was great. ******Hi guys – This is future Lindsey, from 2021. The travel agent we used no longer works for Airpets America. I was preparing to hire this company to get the dogs back to the US and the communication with the owner was awful (looking at reviews this is apparently not a one-off and not because of the pandemic). I can’t in good concience recommend them at this point. Pets on the Move Glasgow was AMAZING in helping get my dogs back in the middle of a pandemic and I HIGHLY recommend them. I mean they stopped at nothing to get my dogs back.****** Anyways, as mentioned, Yoda and Chewie had a 24 hour layover in Frankfurt at the pet reception center and they kindly sent us some pictures and the dogs looked exhausted. When the dogs finally got to us in Edinburgh I realised that out of the four meals that I provided for each dog they only fed them one… ugh. Ok, let’s wrap this part up by getting to the important part, the dogs made it to our flat in Edinburgh safely and there were absolutely no issues whatsoever with their travel. All of Yoda’s travel was weather dependent since he’s a pug, he wouldn’t be allowed to fly if the temperature reached a certain point before takeoff. There were so many things that could’ve gone wrong and delayed them but nothing did. So, all that said, they got to us safely, I have zero regrets about my decision to send them here via plane; however, I will never put them through that journey again.
After arriving in Scotland, I realised there was nothing comparable to what Yoda was eating back in the US. He has a seriously sensitive stomach and was on the only food that didn’t cause him grief. Basically, I was taking a guess at what might work foodwise and I failed because he had serious diarrhea for days after arriving (or once I ran out of the little bit of food we sent over with him). I got him into a vet in Edinburgh and she got us sorted with some medicine and special dog food and things improved quickly. This special dog food wasn’t something he was intended to stay on forever so I still had to figure out his diet. Chewbacca of course was just fine all the while, he can eat anything. It took roughly two months to get Yoda on a diet that worked for him and he’s now doing great on his new diet. We now have a wonderful local pet store that keeps the food he likes in stock specifically for him and we give him prebiotics that I purchase from there as well. I’ve found a good dry raw food (different store) that I’m getting Chewie onto and am still giving him some of the same wet food Yoda gets (Rockster). I can’t tell you how happy I am to have this all sorted out.
Life for the dogs is back to normal now. They both handled moving around from flat to flat really well, and they seemed to forget about their flight pretty quickly. Chewbacca is back to doing dog agility and Yoda… well, he’s an old man and is back to his usual old man stuff. Dogs are allowed in many pubs and restaurants, which I love, even though I don’t tend to bring them with us very much. There are so many parks around here that I can bring the dogs to. It’s just a very dog friendly place to live, with the exception of finding dog friendly rentals to actually live in… yeah, that was a nightmare. I’ll never take for granted that our dogs are here with us, in Scotland, thousands of miles from where we started out. I’m so so so incredibly grateful.
I know this post is supposed to be about my experience in bringing our pups over but I’m realising I should provide just a little bit of advice as it’s coming into my mind right now. If moving to the UK is on the horizon for you and you have pets to transport, start researching your options immediately. There are strict deadlines for getting certain things done in order for your animal to travel to the UK. My other advice is realise that there isn’t a one size fits all option for moving your dogs. For some people it is best for them to take their dogs via boat, for some it’s to fly into Paris and travel into the UK via ground transport, and for some the best option is to fly them directly into the UK. Also, don’t spend hours reading horror stories about transporting animals. There are horror stories, though I encourage you to research statistics, look at how many animals are successfully transported daily (thousands). Also, this is important, DON’T send your pets as luggage in regular cargo!!! Not all flights have the separate pressurized and temperature controlled live animal area so please make sure your pets have tickets for one of the flights that does have this area. Our travel agent made sure of this for us and in part this is why they had a long layover in Frankfurt, they had to wait for another plane that was suitable to transport them. Another tip is if you are flying your pet put a little introduction to your pet on their crate. I learned this from fellow dog agility competitors who fly, or have flown, with their dogs often. I also wanted an excuse to attach their pictures to their crates so that there wasn’t any confusion regarding which dogs belonged to those crates, you’d think this would be required by airlines but it’s not. As part of this post I have included pictures of the intros that I attached to my pups’ crates. Oh, and go with an airline that is known to have a good track record in transporting animals, Lufthansa is one of them and that’s who we used. Some airlines have fairly grim track records, though now I can’t recall which ones but a little googling should get you there. Transporting animals internationally is horribly stressful. I just kept the end goal in mind the whole time and looked forward to the day that the whole fiasco was behind us. I’m so glad it’s behind us.
Photo Notes: The featured photo for this blog is from the day Yoda and Chewie arrived in Edinburgh, we all spent 2.5 hours hanging out our favourite local pub. The photos within this post include pics of the dogs’ intros that I made and attached to their crates and photos taken after the dogs arrived in Frankfurt… they looked absolutely over the whole thing and a little confused (understandably so)