Moving with Pets

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Preparing For The Move

• If you’re crossing state lines or planning air travel, you should have your pet’s records handy and determine what documents you need before transporting them.
• Most states and most airlines require a certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI), also referred to as a health certificate. The certificate is usually valid for only 30 days after your vet signs it.
• Before you move, make an appointment with your pet’s current veterinarian to obtain a health certificate, if necessary.
• Refill any prescriptions.
• Update vaccinations.
• Obtain a copy of your pet’s medical records.
• Ask about motion sickness prevention or sedatives for your pet.
• Obtain recommendations for a veterinarian in your new area.
• Have your pet micro-chipped if you haven’t already done so.

Preparing Your Pet For The Move

• Feed and walk your pets around the same time every day.
• If you have a nervous pet, leave him or her indoors while you’re packing and moving boxes around, to lower the chances of your pet running off.
• If your move will involve a carrier and your pet is not already familiar with one, leave the carrier out in the weeks leading up to your move, with its door open and a favorite blanket or toy inside, to allow your pet an opportunity to get comfortable with it.
• If your move will be by car, get your pet accustomed to riding in the car during the weeks leading up to the move, starting with short trips and associating something positive, such as praise, to help ease your pet’s anxiety.

Moving Day

• Be sure to properly label your pet’s carrier with your contact information.
• If you have a nervous pet, consider boarding him or her during moving day, or at the very least, keep your pet in a safe, enclosed area on moving day.
• A hard-sided carrier might work best for cats and other small animals, while an enclosed room or fenced backyard might work best for dogs.
• Your pet should be placed in the car or moving truck only after everything else is moved out of the house and you’re ready to get on the road.
• For road trips, be sure to have the following items handy for your pet: leash, favorite food, treats, bottled water, disposable litter boxes, first aid kit, paper towels for accidents, and perhaps a favorite blanket or something else with a familiar smell.
• Once you’ve left home, pay attention to how your pets react.
• Covering the carrier with a sheet for the first few hours of the trip may alleviate your pet’s anxiety.
• If your drive includes overnight stops, confirm that any accommodations are pet-friendly.
• Once you’ve checked in, watch your pet and use caution when opening the room door to avoid any escape attempts.

The Humane Society of the United States advises against flying with your pet if at all possible, but if air travel can’t be avoided, here are a few suggestions from HSUS:

  • Contact the airlines in advance to determine any limitations or restrictions and other special instructions or procedures.
  • Use direct flights. You will avoid the mistakes that occur during airline transfers and possible delays in getting your pet off the plane.
  • Always travel on the same flight as your pet. Ask the airline if you can watch your pet being loaded into the cargo hold and unloaded.
  • Don’t ever ship brachycephalic animals such as Pekingese dogs, bulldogs or Persian cats in the cargo holds.
  • If traveling during the summer or winter months, choose flights that will accommodate the temperature extremes. Early morning or late evening flights are better in the summer; afternoon flights are better in the winter.
  • Fit your pet with a collar that can’t get caught in carrier doors. Affix two pieces of identification on the collar: a permanent ID with your name and home address and telephone number, and a temporary travel ID with the address and telephone number where you or a contact person can be reached.
  • Try not to fly with your pet during busy travel times such as holidays and the summer. Your pet is more likely to undergo rough handling during hectic travel periods.

Getting Settled In

• Make sure your new home is pet-friendly.
• Ease your pet into the new home by placing familiar objects (bowls, litter boxes, toys) in the familiar area. For example, if bowls were in the kitchen in the previous home, keep the bowls in the kitchen at the new place. If the litter box was in the bathroom in the previous home, keep it in the bathroom at the new home.
• Develop a safe haven in your new home, such as keeping the litter box or crate in a quiet room so your pet will always have a safe place to return to if he or she isn’t comfortable venturing too far out.
• If you don’t plan on keeping the litter box or crate in the sanctuary room permanently, wait until your pet is totally comfortable with the rest of the house before gradually moving it a few feet a day toward the new location.
• Stick to the old routine as closely as possible once you move, too. This helps reduce some of your pet’s stress. Everything looks different, and your pet has no idea what’s going on but at least knows he or she will be fed at the same time each day.
• Pay attention to your pet’s behavior. Remain calm, as a lot of the stress you feel will carry over to your pet.
• Finally, if your pet is microchipped, don’t forget to update the registry with your new address and phone number and update your pet’s ID tag with your new phone number.