As an expat, you’ll encounter cultural differences in your new homeland, wherever that may be. Sometimes, the differences aren’t all that different. But if you’re relocating to China from a Western country, it may be harder to adapt. For example, if the thought of eating dog meat horrifies you, you’ll have to accept that it’s “just one of those things” in certain Chinese restaurants.
That doesn’t mean your dear dog won’t be welcomed as an expat pet. Your cat, too. In fact, pet ownership is growing so fast in China, the country now ranks third in the entire world, behind the U.S. and Japan, in number of pets. Young adults, 20-35 years old, account for almost 75% of pet owners. (This age group is also far more anti-dog-meat than their older countrymen.)
Of course, you’ll have to follow the rules
You must register your dog in order to obtain a (required) license for her. If you don’t, she could be confiscated and you may not get her back. Cats don’t have to be registered or licensed.
Both dogs and cats must be vaccinated against rabies, with additional immunizations for canine or feline distemper strongly recommended. You’ll be in good shape here, because your pet will have to be up-to-date on all her required vaccinations before she can enter China. (Getting her health-related documentation is a critical part of preparing to relocate to China with your kitty or pup.)
Here’s where things could get sticky for you – one more reason to learn the rules before you head off to China. In inner-city sections of Shanghai and Beijing, only tiny dogs are allowed. Your pooch may not be taller than 35 cm (less than 14”). Other cities also have dog size limitations.
Everything a pet could want
With pet ownership growing by leaps and bounds, it’s no surprise that the entire pet industry in China is a hot commodity. It is on track to meet projected growth of almost 33% per year between 2010 and 2020. What does that mean to you as a pet owner? You’ll have little trouble finding all the products and pampering your pet could want.
Beauty salons are big – more than 40% of Chinese pet owners admit that their furry companion enjoys a periodic spa day. Another quarter of pet owners say they hire a professional to wash their dog. Or their cat – very brave!) And when you want to send a professional photo to your friends back home instead of endless selfies with your furbaby, you’ll be in good company. A significant number of Chinese say their poochie or kitty has posed for a professional photo shoot.
Everyday pet supplies such as food, treats, and toys are easy to come by, either online or in pet stores. However, a word of warning about food: expats and locals alike recommend you stick with known international brands. That’s the only way to be sure your pet is getting reliably safe and nutritious food.
A romp in the park? Woof!
You and your pet may be living in cramped quarters, but if your four-legged companion is a dog who longs to stretch her legs, you should be in luck. Shanghai, for example, has several dog parks and parks where dogs are welcome. You might want to visit:
- Moon River Sculpture Park, where you two can enjoy the beach as well as grassy space.
- Pet Park, which features two large, fenced enclosures for off-leash zoomies as well as agility equipment you and your pup can try out.
- Ding Ding Pet Park, which is actually a farm that has several doggie-focused play features, including a pool.
- Binhai Forest Park, which is about an hour’s drive outside the city, but offers a very beautiful setting to stroll with your pup.
Most of the parks have entrance fees for dogs and/or their humans. The most important thing to know, however, is that you will be required to show your dog’s license in order to enter. Even if admission is free, that license is a must-have.
Whether your four-legged family member is a cat or a dog, helping her acclimate to her new surroundings will be a top job for you once you arrive in China. You’ll probably need some help, too, so why not check out this expat website? It’s loaded with useful information for newcomers just like you.