How to Move with Pets

When moving to a new home every member of your family should be able to move as stress free as possible.

This includes the little furry ones as well. Dogs, Cats, and other pets are very sensitive to the stressors in moving. Follow our tips about how to move your pets as easy and stress free as possible.

Large Dog Riding in a moving box with wheels

Moving with your pets to your new home

At moveON moving, we can move just about any item to any location in the country. Among the few items that we can’t move, though, are your pets. Even if your furry friend loves a good car ride, she can sense your stress as you prepare for a move.

She might not behave in quite the normal way when it’s time to begin the trip to your new home. Minimize stress and make the move as enjoyable as possible for your pet with these helpful tips.

Get Your Paperwork in Order

Small Dog with Passport in his mouth

Is your pet traveling across state lines? If you have a dog, the receiving state will most likely need you to provide paperwork proving that your pet has a current rabies vaccination. Many states also require cats to have rabies vaccinations.

Before you move your pet, make certain that you have paperwork establishing the animal’s full health history. In some states, your pet may also need a vaccination tag on her collar.

Are you moving to a new apartment or condo community? The community may have its own rules about pets. Some apartment communities ask residents who are pet owners to pay mandatory cleaning deposits before moving in. Learn about the requirements of your new community before your move.

Get Your ID Ready

Dog Collar with tagYour pet should travel with a durable collar and tag. The tag should include the pet’s name along with your name, destination address and phone number. It’s also a good idea to add contact numbers for family members and close friends in case someone finds your pet and has trouble contacting you.

If your pet has a microchip implant, you should update the implant with your new contact information. No one wants to lose a pet during a move, but it does happen. Proper identification makes it much more likely that someone will find your pet and return her to you.

Tip: An implanted microchip provides an extra measure of safety for a lost pet — but only if the person who finds the animal brings her to a shelter. A person who finds a pet without a collar may assume that the animal is a stray and keep her. There is no substitute for a collar and tag.

Use a Pet Carrier

Small dog in pet carrier

Whether you’re driving or flying to your new home, it’s usually best for your pet to travel in a carrier or kennel. The carrier should be as durable and comfortable as possible. You should fill it with familiar items such as some water from home, your pet’s favorite food and a few toys.

Prioritizing your pet’s comfort is important during any travel, but it’s especially important if you’ll be separated from her for several hours.

Are you traveling by air? If your pet is small enough, some airlines — for a fee — will allow your pet to travel in a carrier that fits under your seat.

Dog wearing Pilots hat

If you have a larger pet, she’ll have to travel as cargo. That’s not as bad as it sounds; passenger jets have pressurized, climate-controlled cargo areas that are very safe for pets.

Your kennel will have to meet the airline’s standards, though, so read the rules carefully before your departure date. Arrive at the airport early. Remember that airlines may not transport pets as cargo during very hot or cold months.

If you have a connecting flight, you’ll need to manage the process of transferring your pet from one plane to the next.

Tip: If you plan to store a pet carrier under your seat during a plane flight, arriving at the airport early is even more important. The airline may not allow you to arrange for your pet in advance, and many airlines only allow a few pets in the cabin per flight. If your flight already has the maximum number of pets riding under seats when you arrive, you’ll either need to check your pet as cargo or wait for another flight.

To Sedate or Not to Sedate

Most experts agree that sedating a pet for travel is only wise if the animal will become so hyperactive during travel that self harm will become a risk.

Sedation affects an animal’s circulatory and respiratory systems. When flying in turbulent conditions, sedation can impede your pet’s ability to brace herself. Some airlines may even refuse to accept responsibility for a pet under sedation.

The best way to reduce the stress of your pet while traveling is to allow your pet to become accustomed to her kennel for several days or weeks prior to the move. Once in a dark cargo hold, your pet will most likely go to sleep on her own.

Prepare Gradually for the Move

Your pet knows when you’re under more stress than normal. If things are noisy around the house — and you’re a bit quicker than usual to snap at others — the stressful environment may cause your pet to act out.

You may also find it difficult to get your pet into her carrier or kennel because she’ll associate it with negativity. To minimize stress for yourself and your pet, it’s best to prepare for your move gradually.

Do a bit of packing every day rather than trying to pack all of your items at once. Let your pet take naps and have snacks in her kennel. When things become really hectic, let your pet spend the day at a friend’s house.

Tip: While your pet eats or rests in her kennel, try playing recordings of airplane or car sounds. The more familiar the travel environment feels to your pet, the less stress the move will cause.

Gather Your Pet’s Essentials

Dog Toys and Bones

One way to minimize the stress of travel for your pet is to ensure that you’ll have all of her most important items ready when you reach your destination.

Travel with your pet’s favorite toys so she’ll have something to do when you arrive.

If you have a cat, travel with some extra litter. If all of the local stores are closed when you reach your destination, you’ll be glad that you have some litter available.

Tip: Have you ever noticed that the taste of the municipal water changes in different cities and regions? Your pet notices too. Travel with a gallon of water from your old home, and wait until you reach your new home before introducing your pet to different water.

Driving vs. Flying With a Pet

If you’re planning a long-distance move across the country, you have the option of driving or flying with your pet. Your pet’s happiness and safety will factor in to your decision.

On one hand, driving may reduce your pet’s stress level because you’ll be available to give your pet the personal attention she’ll want during a time of uncertainty. On the other hand, a cross-country driving trip may take several days.

During that time, you’ll have to stop for potty and food breaks. Unless you want to sleep in your car, you’ll have to find pet-friendly hotels.

A cross-country flight takes only a few hours and may ultimately be less stressful for your animal.

Tip: If you elect to drive with your pet, check for potential dangers before letting your animal loose in a hotel. Power outlets, holes, open windows and chemicals can all be dangerous to a pet exploring a new environment.

Traveling With Exotic Pets

Exotic Pets Bird Ferret Rabbit Guinea Pig and LizardDo you need to move a fish, iguana, bird, spider, snake or other less common pet? Talk with your veterinarian about the safest way to travel with your animal.

You can safely travel with a fish in a bag of its aquarium water — infused with a bit of extra oxygen — for about 24 hours.

Many exotic pets have difficulty traveling, though, so you should learn about your options well in advance.

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