Bringing Your Pet To Singapore: What Your Vet Wishes You Knew
As some of you know, I’m a vet. This is a great qualification to have as a mum, because when your child defiantly asserts that he could eat what you just told him not to and there’d be nothing you could do about it, you can casually liberate him from this assumption by giving a detailed and gory account of that time you got that thing out of that dog.
But it’s an even better qualification to have when it comes to pet relocation. People come and go a lot in Singapore, and we see quite a few jet-setting animals through our clinic. Today we also (inexplicably) saw quite a few of our colleagues, some of whom were meant to be off-duty, so I asked them what they wish people knew about bringing pets to Singapore. Here’s what they said.
Show us the records
Nobody (not least, the patient) wants to go through all that testing again. Especially the (expensive and time-consuming) allergy tests. We love it when clients bring a file full of detailed medical histories, no matter how many countries they’ve sought care in.
Don’t overdo it in the heat
Everyone knows not to park their pet in the car (right?) but in Singapore it’s hot enough that dogs sometimes get heat stroke just walking around – and heat stroke can kill.
This applies especially to at-risk animals – short-nosed breeds, overweight, unfit and elderly animals, those with respiratory problems, and new arrivals who just haven’t acclimatised yet.
You’ll avoid most mishaps if you keep to cooler parts of the day, carry water to drink, take it easy or go for water play, and learn your heat stress first aid.
The humidity’s not your friend with skin, ear, or tummy problems
These things get out of control more quickly than in cooler, less humid climates. Bacteria and fungi breed nicely, and dehydration happens faster. Halve the time you’d usually wait and see.
Pet transport know-how
Many taxis will take cats in carriers, and some will take dogs – depending on the size and state of the animal and the religion of the driver. Call for a booking and let the company know (something like “small dog in carrier” or “ferret on leash”) and leave plenty of time in case everyone’s reluctant to pick you up.
Alternatively, ask your clinic to recommend a pet transport company, and book a pickup time.
Some of our small-pet-owning clients use carriers that look like handbags and try their luck on the bus. This isn’t actually allowed and they don’t get far if anyone notices, but it’s amazing what a public obsession with smart phones can do.
Get in early for your preventative health care plan
The best time to visit your new vet clinic is within the first couple of weeks after your pet arrives, before the local parasites have had a chance to latch on. If you’ve never had to deal with heartworm before, I’m especially looking at you. Not only can you reduce your pet’s risk of disease by getting in early, you might also avoid pre-prescription testing.
Watch out for ticks
They’re common, and they carry diseases. And just like Australian ticks, which can turn up on cats living exclusively behind mesh netting in twentieth-floor apartments (true story), they have a habit of getting where you don’t think they should be.
A vet can recommend preventative measures, and wikiHow shows you removal techniques for if that fails (and gives some tips for cleaning up the yard).
Know your exit plan
Six months out from your next move is a good time to start querying the embassy of wherever it is you’re going to see what their pet passport requirements are – although you can get away with shorter time frames for most countries, provided you have records of ownership and care.
If you think you’ll have to move at short notice (under two months), you might want to keep your rabies vaccinations up to date, even though Singapore is rabies-free.
Latest import regulations
The Agri-Food And Veterinary Authority of Singapore is a good place to start for the latest pet immigration requirements into Singapore. Alternatively, contact the Singaporean Embassy in your country of residence.
That Time I Got That Thing Out Of That Dog
If you more often look after defiant children than pets, I give you permission to drop my name as if I live just around the corner (and could be called upon at a moment’s notice) while you show your kids the following videos about retrieving swallowed items.
And for good measure, the more brutal open technique we need to use when endoscopy won’t do.