Around here, we focus mostly on helping you plan fun family vacations that include your pets – but we know that not every trip can be a leisurely ramble to your favorite holiday destination. Sometimes you’re packing up and moving to a new city – or even a new country!
Relocating with your pets involves a whole different set of challenges and questions, and we’re hoping these tips will help alleviate some of the stress of moving:
The sooner you can start planning, the better. There’s a lot to be done … whether you’re going across town or across the ocean, driving or flying, transporting your own belongings or hiring a mover. Pets usually sense that change is on the horizon, and may show their anxiety by acting unsettled or clingy.
It’s best if one member of your family takes responsibility for caring for your pet. Having a reassuring companion through the process will help your dog or cat feel more secure, and sticking to his normal schedule, and waiting as long as possible to pack his belongings will help as well.
Local moves can usually be completed in a day, so set up an appointment at a doggy daycare facility or arrange for your pet to spend the time with a friend on the big day. This will also free up your attention to focus on the move.
If you’re driving to your new home, use our pet friendly road trip planner to map your route and find restaurants, dog parks, and hotels along the way. When calling for reservations, always confirm that the pet policy will accommodate your entire family.
If your move involves air travel, arrangements should be made well in advance. Only a limited number of pets can be transported on each flight, so it’s important to make your reservations as soon as your travel dates are confirmed. There are some documents your pet will need to board the flight, so gather and place them in a bag that will stay with you. If you’re moving out of the country, it may be helpful to contact a pet transportation agency to assist you in completing all the required paperwork.
Travel Tip: Make sure that your pet’s identification tags are up to date before your move. Include you cell phone number on the tag so you can be contacted while you’re traveling. You may also want to consider having your pet microchipped, to assist them in getting back to you if they become lost.
Most states have laws regarding the importation of dogs, cats, horses, and other pets, and some are more onerous than others. For example, Hawaii’s pet travel restrictions require weeks of preparation to avoid a long kennel quarantine. Other states may inspect animals at the border, or ask to see heath certificates. Contact the Animal Control Commission for the city or town you’ll be living in to determine what documents will be needed and for information on getting licenses for your pets.
Communities across the country have passed legislation banning or restricting more than 100 different breeds of dogs, so it’s vital to research the local laws before arriving with your dog. The Animal Control Commission should be able to provide you with the information you’ll need to ensure you’re in compliance with the local regulations.
Travel Tip: If your dog is an affected breed, or could be mistaken for one, always be prepared to comply with muzzle, leash, and proof of insurance requirements. If you find that you have inadvertently violated a breed discrimination law, be polite and do your best to bring yourself and your dog into compliance – even if that means immediately leaving the jurisdiction.
Depending on your mode of travel, and where you’ll be moving to, certain documents relating to your pet’s health may be needed. Once you’ve determined the requirements, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to get everything in order. Keep the documents in a handy spot while you’re traveling, as you may be asked to produce them along the way. The most commonly needed documents are:
Proof of Rabies Vaccination: A current rabies tag and a proof of vaccination certificate signed by your veterinarian is your pet’s most important travel document. Whenever you travel with your pet, be sure to keep that certificate in your possession at all times.
Health Certificate: A certificate, signed by your veterinarian, describing your pet, listing all vaccinations, and indicating that your pet is in good health and free from infectious diseases. Note: Health certificates are valid for a limited amount of time – sometimes for as little as 10 days. Be sure that your pet arrives at your destination before the expiration of their certificate.
Travel Tip: If you’re worried that your pet may get car sick, speak to your veterinarian about prescriptions that help relieve motion sickness. Also, consider using a crate to contain your pet in the vehicle and cover the crate with a blanket, allowing room at the bottom for proper ventilation. Limiting your pet’s ability to see out the windows may help keep them from getting nauseous.
Driving is the least expensive way of transporting your pet – and can be the most fun! What dog doesn’t love a road trip, after all? Using the GoPetFriendly.com website to plan your trip will allow you to locate pet friendly hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, beaches, and dog parks along the way.
Of course, arriving safely is always the first priority, so you’ll need to do a little “pet prep.” First, be sure you have a way of securing your pet while you are on the road. A crate, carrier, or car harness will prevent your pet from distracting you while you’re driving, and will protect them from injury in case of an accident. Allow your pet time to get accustomed to whichever device you choose, and start out with short trips to slowly acclimate him to the car. Don’t forget to deactivate the airbag for any seat your pet will be occupying!
Once you’re on the road, maintaining your pet’s feeding and exercise schedule as much as possible will help reduce any anxiety he may feel about being away from home. Set a reminder on your phone to help you keep track of feeding times, and allow for stops every couple of hours to let your pet stretch, relieve himself, and get a drink of water.
Pets need a lot of stuff when they are traveling! Here is a list of things to have in the car:
Travel Tip: It’s a good habit when you travel to attach your pet’s leash before you open the vehicle doors and detach it after the doors have been closed. In new environments pets can easily get spooked and run off – keeping the leash connected will keep you all safer.
Many airlines allow pets aboard their flights, but some are more pet friendly than others. Comparing the policies, requirements, and pet fees will help you make a good decision about this method of travel with your pet. If your dog or cat is small enough to fit inside a carrier that meets the airline’s requirements, they will be able to fly in the cabin with you.
Larger animals and exotic pets may not be allowed in the cabin and will have to fly in the aircraft’s baggage compartment or be shipped as cargo. Be sure to thoroughly read the airline’s requirements for appropriate containers for shipping a pet and their detailed instructions on preparing your pet for transport.
Be aware that weather conditions may impact animals flying in the cargo hold – airlines will not transport animals when extreme cold or hot temperatures could threaten their health. Finally, pets in cargo cannot be checked-through between different airlines, so if you must use two airlines to complete your trip, you will be responsible for picking your pet up at the transfer point and getting him aboard the second airline.
On the day of his flight, arrive at the airport early so you have time to exercise your pet and allow him to relieve himself before his flight departs. Make sure that both your contact information and the contact information of the person picking him up are clearly visible on the crate. Deliver him to the freight terminal on time, according to the airline’s requirements and attach his leash firmly to the outside of his crate, so it’s handy in case an airline employee needs to remove him from the container. Generally, pets are loaded on the plane last so they are nearest the door and can be unloaded first. To ensure the safety of your pet, be sure someone is there to pick him up as soon as his flight lands.
If it’s not possible to accompany your pets on the flight, using a pet transportation agency can be helpful. These companies offer door-to-door service, picking your pet up at home and delivering him to your destination. When shipping an unaccompanied pet, either you or an agent you hire, will be responsible for the following:
Travel Tip: Unless advised by your veterinarian, sedating your pet prior to transporting him by air is not recommended. Over-sedation is the most frequent cause of animal deaths during airline transport and accounts for more than half of all deaths when flying.
When you arrive at your new home, the first thing you’ll want to do is set up a quiet spot for your pet away from the unpacking activity. Creating a refuge with his bed or crate and a few of his favorite toys will help him relax and settle in. Once you’ve caught your breath, locate a good veterinarian and give them a copy of your pet’s medical records. Supplying this information will save valuable time if your pet should require emergency treatment.
Dogs and cats go through a similar adjustment period as people do when moving to a new house. Until they become familiar with their new abode and neighborhood, take care that they don’t become startled and try to escape. Help them understand that this is “home” by spending extra time with them, encourage them to explore new rooms by placing toys and treats inside, and use blankets, beds, and toys with their scent on them for the first few weeks. Develop a new routine by feeding them at the same time and in the same place each day. Within a few weeks they should have made the adjustment and be content in their new environment.
We hope this helps you prepare for your big move with your pets! If you’d like more information, we found this free ebook from PetRelocation.com to be super helpful.