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Pets and Thailand's Regulations on Importing Dogs and Cats

As an animal lover, I will add my advice in addition to the formal guidance.

You can bring your dogs and cats into Thailand, but you had better do your research beforehand, because getting pets into Thailand is often much easier than getting them back to your home country, as well as to third party countries. While many expats have minimal problems, whereby it has been a happy experience for both owners and pets, in many other cases it has been traumatic for both owner and pet, and expensive. Some countries have very strict regulations requiring a long quarantine in a government approved facility.

Some owners have left their pets in Thailand. This is why many street dogs are obviously not native to Thailand. The trip to Thailand became essentially a one way ticket for the dog.

The main environmental issue is the heat and humidity in Thailand, as there may be times when the foreign dog will need to be in an air conditioned environment, even when no humans are present. Of course, be careful to supply lots of fresh water and replace it frequently.

Thailand is not too bad as regards the usual parasites, and in fact I've experienced much worse problems in the US (fleas and ticks) than in Thailand, though there are stories of parasites and diseases picked up in Thailand.

The vast majority of our customers choose to live in either gated communities where there are no "street dogs", or else in highrise apartments and condominiums in the city center. Walking a dog outside of a building complex could be an issue.

Most houses will allow pets. However, many condominium and apartment buildings do not allow pets as a regulation of the building. If a condominium, then after that comes the landlord's permission. We have a list of the buildings which do allow cats and dogs of various sizes. Many buildings allow a small dog, depending upon size and breed, as long as the dog does not disturb others, e.g., "barking dog syndrome" (and sometimes howling when alone), and if you always clean up after the dog.

It is usually better if you bring your pets as checked in luggage rather than shipping them as cargo, because the cargo process can be much longer and you lose more control over the pet's environment. Expats have reported some horrendous experiences from shipping their pets separately as cargo, whereas many other expats have breezed thru customs when their pet arrives on their own flight with their checked in luggage. The officials are more expeditious and flexible in getting luggage pets passed thru.

There are licensed agents who can expedite a cargo shipment, though you may pay a sizeable fee which varies by agent. If you do go the cargo route, then it's best to use an agent.

The Thai government agency which deals with regulations on the import and export of other species (besides humans), including dogs and cats as pets, is the Department of Livestock Development. Most of their information is in the Thai language, but their website has an English page which states their regulations, which actually shows up in a second place on the website. Make sure the shots and certificates conform to the regulations.

One comment on the regulations: It states that a 30 day quarantine period is required. However, on the form where you fill in the location for the quarantine, just check the box for "home". Yes, you can promise to quarantine your dog or cat at your home for the first 30 days, in Thailand.

If you visit Thailand before your move, then while at the airport, stop by the cargo office to pick up a copy of their animal import document which applies to cats and dogs. (The licensed importers/exporters are nearby, but for bringing your pets as checked in luggage instead of cargo, I suggest you not give the licensed agents any of your information in advance, though collect a few business cards for keeping with you in case you hit a snag upon arrival with your pet, and keep a note which agent seems like the best.)

Pet overheating in the luggage or cargo sections of aircraft is not uncommon. While bad news travels much further than good news, and the vast majority of pet shipments go smoothly, over the years we've had one case of a dog dying in transit, and heard of other cases. There are two main recommendations to minimize the chances of pet deaths or excessive discomfort:

  1. If flying in the summertime or in a tropical country, try to book a flight out at night or in the early morning, and avoid long layovers or transfers during the middle of the day. (The death of our customer's pug apparently occurred during one of these situations, as the airplane departure was delayed for a long time in a location of sweltering heat.)

  2. Make sure there is plenty of water in the kennel. Indeed, you may want to have their water bowl be a block of ice at the outset -- put their filled bowl into the freezer overnight and insulate it on the trip to the airport. It will hopefully take a long time for that block of ice to melt.

Different animals have varying vulnerabilities to heat and the cold. Short mouthed dogs tend to overheat much more easily, since they cool off by respiration and evaporation. Smaller animals can be more vulnerable to the cold.

We've seen many pets arrive healthy and happy, including from other tropical countries, but it's important to consider the potential of exceptional weather conditions and what you can do for countermeasures.




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