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The Reality of Moving to Another Country with Your Pet: My Experience

I’ve been “looking for home” for as long as I can remember. I realised last year that home isn’t where you are, but who you are with. Moving to a new country is an exciting adventure, but when you have a beloved dog by your side, the process becomes even more exciting (and a little more complex!)

Last year I left the United States and began travelling the world. After 3 months away from my beloved family and friends, I decided to make my home base in Paris, France, but not without returning to the United States and getting my five-year-old coonhound, Copper.

This is my personal experience of relocating with my furry “home” and a few things I wish I would have known sooner!

Planning and Research:

If you have ever travelled, you know the importance of thorough research and planning. Even more so applies when relocating your pet! Familiarize yourself with the pet import requirements in whatever country you will be going to (in my case France) and ensure that your pet has all the necessary vaccinations, microchipping, and documentation well in advance. A timeline of preparation made the transition smoother for both of us!

Choosing a Pet-Friendly Home:

When I decided to settle in Paris, finding a pet-friendly home was a top priority. I searched for rental properties that welcomed pets and had nearby green spaces for Copper to use the bathroom. Paris in particular is a city of mostly concrete, so I had to prepare myself to re-potty train Copper to go on the streets. Additionally, I made sure the neighbourhood I chose had access to pet-friendly cafes and stores. Paris is a very dog-friendly city, and most places are great at accepting dogs of all sizes. Moving from a place where I drove everywhere in my car (where it was easy to roll a cart of dog food from the store to my trunk!) I learned quickly that having smaller bags available or being close to the store where you can handle walking with a heavy bag is vital!

Our Travel Experience:

Flying with Copper from the United States to France was an excursion I had to prepare for well in advance. I consulted with my veterinarian two months before our flight to fill out and plan the timing of the correct paperwork needed for Copper's relocation. We chose an airline that allowed pets in the cabin, ensuring that Copper could be with me throughout the journey as a certified Psychiatric Service Animal. We had a direct flight to make the experience as stress-free as possible.

New Environment:

Once we arrived in Paris, it was essential to help Copper adjust to his new surroundings. I gradually introduced him to our new apartment and neighbourhood, allowing him to explore (and me too!) Maintaining a consistent routine, such as a certain area in the kitchen to eat, regular walks and playtime, helped him feel more secure and settled. I will say, seeing Copper discover the beauty of Paris for the first time was one of the most joyous experiences of our life together.

Pet Food Availability and Diet:

Before moving, one of my concerns was the availability of pet foods in Paris. Knowing how much Copper loved his previous pet food in the United States, I wanted to find another great option for him in France. Thankfully, Paris has a wide range of pet food stores that cater to different dietary requirements and I found his perfect fit: Eden Holistic Pet Food. Eden is sourced in the EU and is the perfect “all-rounder” for your dog. Copper loves their Original Cuisine Medium kibble and adjusted quickly as I transitioned him out of his previous American food. This flavour contains free-run chicken, Scottish salmon, North Atlantic herring and Suffolk duck which helps build lean muscles and aid in maintaining a healthy weight (very important for a medium-sized dog like Copper!)

New Veterinarian:

The first week we arrived in Paris I asked a friend with a pet to recommend me to their trusted Veterinarian. I made an appointment as soon as possible to get Copper checked out and ask for a European Pet Passport for future travel plans. They provided valuable advice and support and addressed all of my concerns about Copper’s transition into the new city. (One surprising thing I learned about Paris is that there are dog parks all over the city, but not all parks are dog friendly!) Speaking with a trusted animal expert was instrumental in my peace of mind and ensuring that Copper's transition was as easy as possible.

As a passionate pet lover and traveller, bringing my best friend to Paris was a dream come true. Though we are learning more and more every day (the French language especially!) Copper and I now have a comfortable and loving home in Paris. With the right mindset, moving to a new country with your pet can be a rewarding and fulfilling adventure.

Written by Jenni Johnson