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Moving with Pets

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Moving With Pets

For many of us our pets are simply considered to be one of the family members. All pets require special attention when moving. Whether by air, car, or a special carrier; this article will provide a checklist of things to do making the relocation less stressful for your pets.

Pre-Planning Stages

This is the key to an easier move, regardless of the type of transportation chosen. Travel arrangements should be completed as far in advance as possible.

Keep your pets' routine as regular as possible during the pre moving stages and on the move out day. If you normally feed, exercise, or play with your pet at certain times, continue to do so. During the final stages of moving, you may find it better (for you and your pet) if your pet stayed at a friend's home or kennel. This may help reduce the chances of it getting upset, running away or hiding in one of the moving boxes, as cats especially are prone to do.


    • State Regulation - Contact the State Veterinarian's Office or State Department of Agriculture requesting the pet laws and regulations of your destination state. For more information, check with the State Regulatory Agency located in your new state.

    • Local Regulations - Check with the City's Clerk office in your new community for local pet ordinances (The number of pets per household may be limited).

    • Condo Regulations - Check with your new condo association to make sure pets are allowed in the apartment or condo complex.

    • Health Certificate - Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. You will need a Health Certificate that is less than 10 days old. The certificate must be issued by a licensed veterinarian; you must also have the current inoculation (Rabies' Tag) records. This information will help your new veterinarian provide better care for your pet. If the pet is excitable, or prone to motion sickness when traveling, ask your vet to prescribe medication for it. You may also want to inquire about sedation if necessary. (Your veterinarian may be able to recommend colleague located in your new area).

    • A Permit - You may need to purchase a permit allowing your exotic pet to enter the destination state. Your veterinarian may assist you in applying for one.

    • Identification - Whether you are moving by air or car, any pet that can wear a collar should have an identification tag. The tag should include the pet's name, your name and address, and the name and address of an alternate person to contact in case you cannot be located (your veterinarian is recommended).

    • Take a photo - Before you depart, make sure to have a recent photograph of your pet in case the animal is lost.

Pet Carriers: It is important to use a comfortable and sturdy carrier, we cannot stress this enough. A carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand up, turn around and lie down. It must have enough cross-ventilation and a leak-proof bottom with layers of absorbent lining. It should have a secure closing mechanism on the door, but do not lock the kennel door. Federal regulations require that your pet be accessible in the event of an emergency. It is recommended that you get your pet accustomed to the carrier several days before by using it as a bed. Placing a favorite toy or blanket inside will make your pet feel more secure.

Transportation Methods

Now you are ready to relocate your pet, the question is how?! Pets cannot be moved on the moving van, nor are they permitted on buses or trains (except for Seeing Eye dogs).

Pet Movers

Depending on the temperament and size of your pet, you may want to consider using a professional pet carrier. Pet Carriers can organize every aspect of the relocation of your pet. Services may include:

    • Sensible advice on preparing your pet for the trip
    • Specific details about requirements or restrictions for state and local regulations in your new locality.
    • Collecting your pet at the airport
    • Boarding your pet until you arrive
    • Delivery of your pet to your new home

Air Transportation

Airlines that accept pets for transportation have specific regulations whether they are accompanied or not. Some airlines allow pets inside the passenger cabin (first come, first serve basis); keep in mind that your pet will have to be placed in a pet carrier no longer than 21"x18"x8", small enough to fit under the seat. Be sure to ask about transportation charges and pet insurance.

Please see our Moving with Cats or Moving with Dogs articles for more information.

*Caution* The Animal Welfare Act prohibits air transportation of puppies & kittens less than 8 weeks old and prior to weaning, whether accompanied or not.

Pets not accompanied by the owner, must travel air freight (small pets such as birds, tropical fish, hamsters, snakes, etc. must be shipped by Air Express, a division of air freight). Minimize your pet's stress by avoiding through-checking and changing planes.

Car Transportation

Car travel is one of the most common ways of pet transportation. It provides a feeling of security for you and your pets, and it tends to be less expensive. If your pet is not used to car travel, it is recommended to take it on short rides before the trip to help your pet get accustomed to the motion of the car.

Be sure not to feed your pet for a few hours before you leave. After you are on the road, feed your pet only once daily.

While riding in the car, do not let your pet hand out the window. Dirt and insects can fly into its eyes and can cause irritation and/or infection. Remember to keep your power windows locked to prevent your pet from lowering the window and jumping out. If you car does not have air conditioning, leave the windows cracked 1-1 1/2 inches; pets need plenty of air.

Hotel Stay: If you anticipate stopping overnight with your pet, be sure to contact several motels/hotels in advance to confirm your pet will be admitted. No pet should be left in the car overnight. (Please see our Moving with Cats or Moving with Dogs articles for more information).

Arriving to your New Home

Just like people, pets also need time to adjust to new homes and new faces! To speed up that "at home" feeling, use you pet's favorite bowl, bedding and toys. Try to put them in the same sort of location as they were in the old home. Once accustomed to the changes, your pet will settle down.

It is a good idea to keep your pet confined until it realizes that this is a new home. It may wander off and try to return to the old home. This is especially true for cats, and they should be confined for several weeks.

A New Veterinarian

If your veterinarian was not able to recommend a vet, you may want to contact you local Humane Society or the American Animal Hospital Association (800) 252-2242 for the names of veterinarians in your area. When you have chosen one, give the veterinarian office your pet's veterinary record. Having this information

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