Daily Life

Expat life | Bringing our dogs to Germany

Westie and Shihtzu

Today in this post I will share our experience and process of bringing our dogs from Canada to Germany with us, as part of our expat experience.

There will be two posts, this first one about the trip itself and then the second with all the paperwork involved. And heads up, it’s no simple task.

Well, I believe that everyone who ever moved abroad knows how labor intensive and how many steps to actually get to live in a different country.

There are more steps back than forward in the beginning, confusions and misunderstandings, and with us, it was no different.

One of the main conditions for our move become a reality was being able to bring our dogs with us. They are part of our family and leave them behind was not an option.

Back story

In summary, we purchased the plane tickets for all of us (humans) with Air Canada, specially because the company recently included a summer direct route from Ottawa to Frankfurt, which would be perfect for us (and the dogs).

But we didn’t call right away to include them and when we finally did, we found out our shihtzu was not allowed in the cargo area (apparently shihtzus are prone to respiratory problems in pressurized areas/high altitude) and the companies does not want to deal with it.

Westies are accepted in the cargo area, but we didn’t want to separate them. They also could not be in the cabin, because they don’t fit the largest pet carrier allowed under the seat.

Bummer, we were stuck! What would we do now!

We considered arranging for Diego flying with them with another company (which allows both our dogs into the pet safe Cargo area – like Lufthansa). However, I would have to deal with flying alone with 3 small kids, loads of luggage and all the stress built up on all of us in the past few weeks/months.

Pet Relocation

During our frenetic search, we crossed paths with pet relocation services and after some deep research into it, evaluating many reviews and experiences, we went with a company called Worldwide Animal Travel.

They took our dogs from our home in Ottawa, Canada, drove them to Montreal (where Lufthansa flies direct to Frankfurt) and checked them in (apparently pets are boarded last and leave the plane first, to minimize time in the plane).

We picked them up at the Lufthansa Animal Lounge in the Frankfurt Airport, safe and sound, in the same day we arrived.

The company not only helps “importing” animals from other countries into Canada, but also moving them abroad.

bringing dogs into Germany
Prestes a viajarem para a Alemanha

Our dogs did not take any tranquilizers, however they got some treats with natural calming substances (it’s not recommended to make them sleep as it could impact into breathing patterns).

The pet relocation company provided the cages for travel (very spacious!) and helped us with figuring out all the required paper work for bringing our dogs from Canada to Germany.

expat pets
Na van que levou eles para o aeroporto de Montreal


They arrived pretty well! They did not look over stressed out or tired, but their cages were quite dirty. I guess they couldn’t hold for that long or just needed to mark their territory. Apparently, they did have a chance to relieve themselves shortly before and after the flight.

Lufthansa Frankfurt Animal lounge
Animal Lounge já em solo alemão
dogs in Germany
O Eddie parece que viu um fantasma, mas Diego afirmou que eles estavam super bem…

After the initial shock and stress of finding out they were would not fly with us, the additional costs and them flying separated from us, ended up making things easier in the long run.

We already have 3 kids and luggage to worry about. In addition we were very tired and stressed out with everything else.

So, in conclusion, if you can handle the extra cost, I would recommend using a pet relocation company to help!

Next post, I will talk about the documents and other things we had to do to bring our dogs into Germany. Stay tuned!