The Expat Guide to Taking Your Pets to the UAE

The United Arab Emirates represents one of the most popular expat destinations in the world. Indeed, statistics suggest that expats now outnumber local Emiratis by 9 to 1. The vast majority of the expat population resides in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where most large employers are to be found.

However, taking pets to UAE is not without its problems. Besides the relocation process itself there are also a number of practicalities to consider on arrival. Just a few of these include where your nearest English-speaking vets can be located, how to find pet insurance in the UAE and what boarding facilities are available for your returns home.

The purpose of this guide is therefore simple; every year we relocate dozens of pets to Dubai and Abu Dhabi and we’ve learned a thing or two about helping your pet settle into life in the Emirates. Below you will find a useful guide – with relevant resources – to help make your pet’s relocation to the UAE as enjoyable and trouble-free as your own.

Rules Surrounding Pets in the UAE

For the first-time expat, moving to the UAE with pets can take some getting used to. This is because there are a surprising number of rules and limitations surrounding pet ownership in this part of the world. It is critical to fully understand these if you are not to fall foul of the law.

The first shock for many expats is that dogs are generally banned from public areas. To give an example dogs are not allowed to venture onto the beach, into public parks and most certainly cannot be taken into restaurants. Furthermore even when walking your dog in public it must remain on a leash at all times.

The result is that if you want your dog to be able to run free for an exercise period this will usually have to be done in your own garden or at one of the few doggie parks to be found in the UAE.

Doggie Parks in the UAE

It should come as no surprise that with so few permitted doggie exercise areas in the UAE a small number of doggie parks have been opened. Here you can permit your canine friend to fun about and blow off steam, making for a happier pooch.

Two of the best-known doggie parks in the Emirates are to be found close to one another in the Dubai Investment Parks.

Note that both these doggie parks are to be found in Dubai; legitimate areas to exercise your dog in other areas such as Abu Dhabi are harder to come by though there are some useful tips to be found here.

English-Speaking Vets in the UAE

There are far fewer pet keepers in the Middle East which can make finding a suitable vet rather more problematic than in the UK or USA for example. Furthermore you’ll want to be certain that the vet with whom you register speaks your native tongue in order to facilitate suitable levels of communication.

The following veterinary surgeries may prove us use when relocating the Dubai or the UAE in general and all speak English:

Note that while many websites mention the American Veterinary Clinic it seems that sadly they are no longer in operation.

UAE Pet Insurance

There are very few insurers in the UAE dealing with pet owners. At present the most popular option is Pet Secure. Whilst My Paw Sure is frequently mentioned on other websites they have now ceased offering pet insurance in the Emirates.

Pet Shops in the UAE

Looking to buy pet products in the UAE? Fortunately there are a number of pet shops available if you know where to look. Some of the best-known pet stores in the UAE are:

Pet Groomers in the UAE

Whilst a number of dog grooming parlours may be found in the UAE some of the most popular options are attached to existing veterinary surgeries; in this way once you have located your nearest veterinary surgery you will also be rely on them to groom your dog as necessary.

Kennels & Catteries in the UAE

If you’re an expat moving to the UAE then the reality is you’re probably going to need to use a kennel or cattery from time to time when returning “home” to visit family and friends.

Some of the more popular options include:

Adoption Centres

Sadly with the UAE being such a popular expat destination, a surprising number of pets get left behind each year. Therefore caring pet owners can help to provide suitable homes for pets in need. If you have the time and resources available to offer an unwanted pet a home then please contact:

Taking Pets to the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

If you’re moving to the United Arab Emirates and are considering taking your pet along then there is good news. Not only is it entirely possible to take your cat or dog from the UK over to the UAE, but by understanding a few simple rules you will find the whole process is relatively straightforward.

Exporting Your Dog to the UAE

Dogs are just as popular among Emiratis as they are elsewhere in the world, though you should be aware that there are a number of breeds that have been banned from the Kingdom. At present, the list contains mainly breeds bred for their aggression, including pit bulls and American pit bulls, American Staffordshire terriers, Argentinian and Brazilian fighting dogs and the Tosa.

The fact that many of these breeds are also banned from the UK however should mean that these limitations have minimal impact on your pet export. Note that any breeds that have been crossed with a wolf are also unwelcome in the UAE.

Before travel, your dog will require a number of vaccinations to be in place. To begin with, your dog must have been vaccinated within the last year for canine distemper, canine parvovirus, infectious canine hepatitis and leptospirosis. In addition, your pet must have received a rabies jab no sooner than 21 days before travel.

Once these health guidelines have been met it is possible to begin the actual transportation process. In order to take a dog to the UAE you will need to have your pet checked over by a government-approved vet no more than a week before travel. When your vet is happy that your pet is not carrying any infectious diseases he or she will be able to complete the required DEFRA health certificate on your behalf.

On arrival in the UAE with your dog you will also need an import permit that has been issued by DEFRA’s equivalent in your destination country.

Your export and import certificates, together with your pet’s health records, make up the paperwork required to legally transport your pet from the UK to the UAE.

Exporting Cats to the UAE

Transporting cats to the UAE is largely similar to the process for dogs. You will still require an export and an import permit. You will still require a rabies vaccine and you will also need to be able to prove that your cat has undergone a number of vaccinations for potentially fatal feline diseases. At present, the required vaccinations are feline panleukopenia, feline rhinotracheitis, and feline calicivirus.

General Advice

It is worth noting that no matter whether you’re attempting to take your dog or cat with you to the UAE your pet must be microchipped in order to suitably identify it. You should also be aware that it is your responsibility to ensure that a microchip scanner is available when travelling through customs, so you should endeavour to keep one of these on you if you opt not to use a pet transportation specialist.

Lastly please be aware that for the health of the animal during transit, the United Arab Emirates will not allow you to import a puppy or kitten aged under 4 months.

Click here for our complete guide about pet relocation to the UAE.