Americans and their loved pets move on average every seven years. If you have a pet or pets, remember that they also experience stress, particularly from moving. In many cases, moving can be even more stressful on pets, as the home is their habitat. Pets can also become very frightened when faced with unfamiliar situations. Careful organization and planning can make the moving process easier and less stressful for both you and your pet. Our guide offers tips and advice to help you and your pet through this process.
Pet travel warning
• Never move a sick pet – the move may aggravate his symptoms and be dangerous to his health.
• The Animal Welfare Act makes it illegal to transport puppies and kittens less than eight weeks old by air.
• Pets cannot be moved on a moving van with your household belongings.
• Pets are generally not allowed on trains or buses, unless they’re guide-dogs accompanying blind or otherwise impaired persons.
• Book a direct flight if you are traveling by plane. If your pet is traveling in freight he may be sitting outside with the freight for a long period of time between flights and as the freight is being moved from plane to plane. If the weather is either too hot or too cold your pet will suffer. An insulated crate will certainly help this situation if it cannot be avoided.
You may transport your pet by air either accompanying you or as air freight. Some airlines provide counter-to-counter service so your pet will be carried on and off the plane by an airline employee. Remember, not all airlines accept pets for transportation, so be sure to inquire when you are making your travel arrangements. Also be sure to check about charges and insurance charges for transporting your pet.
It is important that you book your air travel as early as possible. Airlines that accept pets for transportation will have specific regulations and guidelines regardless of whether the pets are accompanied or unaccompanied. For example, you may be required to be at the airport several hours in advance of the flight to check your pet in and your pet may need a special crate. The airline may be able to provide to you a crate for the trip, or you may have to purchase one from the airline.
The airline will have guidelines on the crate types allowed and your local pet supply company will be able to sell you the required crate. You pet should be able to stand and turn around with ease and there should be adequate ventilation. The bottom of the crate should be padded with newspaper or other absorbent material. Add a favorite toy on move day to give a sense of security. Try to get your pet accustomed to the crate at home before the big day.
On move day, feed and water your pet at least 5 hrs before the flight departure time and water again at least 2 hours before departure. Remember to administer any medication or veterinarian-recommended tranquilizers before departure. When you arrive at the airport, exercise your pet and check that you have provided all the necessary information to airline staff regarding your name, correct new address and alternate contact name in case of emergency.
Some airlines allow passengers to bring pets into the cabin with them, provided they fall within a specific size range and stay in a carrier for the duration of the flight.
By road – In a motor vehicle
Unless you are planning a very short road trip, do not feed or water your pet for a couple of hours before leaving. You may decide to put your pet in a crate during the road trip, but be sure he is able to stand and turn around with ease and that there is adequate ventilation. The bottom of the crate should be padded with newspaper, towels or other absorbent and cushioning material. Adding a favorite toy will help give a sense of security. Exercise your pet regularly during the road trip, but always use a leash because your furry friend can easily get lost or hit by a car if he wanders off.
Do not let your pet hang his head out the window while the car is moving. While many dogs love to do this, it can cause sore eyes, ears or throat. And, never let the windows down so far that your pet can jump out.
Never leave a pet in a hot car during the summer or in a cold car in the winter. Temperatures inside a car with closed windows escalate dramatically when it’s parked in the sun. Even if it’s pleasant outside, it takes only a few moments to reach over 100 degrees inside the car – which can be fatal for small occupants. If you absolutely have to leave your pet briefly, and the day is hot, park in the shade, lock the car doors and crack the windows open several inches to provide cross-ventilation. Check on him regularly. If the day is very hot, it is best not to leave your pet in the car at all.
Pet’s travel bag
Don’t forget to pack a travel bag for your pet! Following is a list of items you may wish to include;
• Food and can opener
• Food and water dishes
• Any medication your pets needs
• Favorite toys
• Grooming brush
• Bags to clean up after your pet
• Cleaner and paper towel
Whatever mode of transport you use for your pet, make sure you are in compliance with state and local regulations for animals in your destination city, along with current copies of.
• ID tags
• Health records
Pets ID tags
The state where you are moving may have different laws regarding animals and their entry across state lines. It is important that you understand the requirements so that you can comply with them, so contact the state veterinarian for specific information. It is not uncommon for pets to need an entry permit in order to enter a new state. As well, in many towns and cities the number of pets per household may be limited. You will be required to obtain a local license for your pet within a certain deadline, such as 30 days, so find out what it is. You don’t want to pay a fine for not keeping your pet’s license current!
You may need to obtain a health certificate for your pet from a licensed veterinarian and this can be used in the event it is required for entry to your new home state. The Department of Agriculture may request to see the health cert at your destination airport or could even be patrolling the highways if you are driving. A health cert is generally valid for 10 days, so be sure to have the inspection scheduled just before you move. The veterinarian will conduct a complete physical examination of your pet and check that he is current with all inoculations.
Whether traveling by air or by car, moving can be even more stressful for a dog than for a human, although some dogs adapt better than others. Hold off on packing your dog’s bedding and toys until the last moment so that he can be comforted by the presence of familiar things. If you’re traveling a long way, avoid feeding your dog for 12 hours before the journey in order to prevent travel sickness. If you know your dog suffers from travel sickness, ask your veterinary surgeon about medication.
If you plan on flying to your new home, do your best to book a direct flight. If your dog has to be transported by freight and the flight is not direct he may have to sit out in the hot or cold weather as the freight is boarded to the new flight. Check with the airlines for details. If your dog is small enough, he may be able to travel in the passenger cabin with you. He will need a special pet carrier, which you can purchase at your local pet store. Ask the airline what crate specifications they require.
If traveling by car, have your dog’s nails cut to avoid damage to the upholstery. Carry an adequate supply of plastic bags and use these to clean up after your pet at any rest stops you use. Never let your dog hang his head out the window of a car when it’ s moving. Even though most dogs love to do this, it can cause sore eyes, ears or throat.
Never leave your pet alone in a car, especially in hot weather. The temperature inside the car can quickly rise to an unbearable level, even on what feels like a pleasant afternoon.
Once you arrive at your destination, be sure to get your dog back in to his routine of eating and exercise. If you have moved to an apartment building and your pet dog was used to having a yard to play in, you’ll need to be extra considerate. Walk your dog more frequently, at least until he gets used to his new living situation. Be patient and make allowances for indoor “accidents.” Don’t punish your pooch, as this may make the problem worse. Clean the mess to remove the soil and smell. Once your dog has settled in, the accidents should stop. Use positive reinforcement to teach him where he needs to go. Always praise him when he relieves himself in the correct place.
One way to help your dog settle in more quickly is to create a comfortable sleeping area for him. If your new home has a yard, check the fencing to make sure that it is secure, of sufficient height and ‘hole-free’ before letting your dog run loose. If your dog is able to escape, exercise him on a lead until you are able to make the necessary improvements.
It’s commonly accepted that cats get very attached to places and typically hate to move. Cats get particularly comfortable with routine, and don’t like their environment to change. This can make moving especially difficult for humans and their cats.
In the days leading up to your move, try to keep your pet’s routine as normal as possible. It is best to crate your cat during the moving process, and it may be helpful to ask a friend or family member to keep an eye him.
If you are traveling by air, you may need to purchase an airline-approved carrier for you cat. You airline should be able to provide you with all the details. If you are traveling by car you may also want to use a crate or carrier so your cat cannot roam about the car, or escape through an open window or door.
Once you are in your new location, be careful to keep your cat indoors until he becomes comfortable in his new surroundings. Do not allow your cat outdoors, because he may try to return to you old home … and that’s obviously dangerous for him, especially if you’ve moved far away. Supervised outings are advised until your pet gets used to your new home. You can use a long leash on your cat and connect it to a stake in the ground, allowing your pet to wander the length of the leash for the first few days. Let your cat explore all the rooms of the house and be sure to check that outside doors and windows are closed before you begin.
Birds and Small Pets
Of all pets, birds are probably the most sensitive to changes in temperature and environment. Your pet bird can be moved in the cage in which it lives. When you are moving with your pet bird, be sure to use a cover for the cage. This can keep the bird calm and protect it from drafts. Place the cage in a shallow box to collect any gravel, feathers or droppings that may spill during transit. Remove any containers of food and water before moving the cage to avoid spills en route. Do feed and water your bird at its regular times, as birds, like all small animals, can become dehydrated very quickly in warm weather.
Some states require a health cert for birds entering the state. The USDA may inspect this cert either at the airport or during routine roadway inspections. Have your pet bird inspected by your veterinarian prior to traveling. Some health certificates are valid for a brief period of time. Ten 10 days is a common window for a health certificate.
There are several ways to transport horses. Your horse can be transported by air freight, by towing a trailer or by hiring a specialized horse transporting company. The horse transport company can use either air or road to transport horses.
Many airlines accept horses as air freight. In general, they will only transport horses on direct flights. You will be required to have a stall constructed to the airline’s specifications, and you will need to ensure your horse has the necessary health checks completed prior to moving to your new home state. Remember that requirements vary by state, and airlines will request a health certificate. The USDA may also be at the destination airport conducting inspections and may request to see the health certificate.
Depending on the distance you need to travel, towing your horse in a trailer behind your car or truck may be an option. If you do not own a trailer, you may consider renting one, but you’ll want to be sure you’re experienced enough to safely load and trailer your horse. You can also pack tack and feed in the trailer.
If your trip requires overnight stays you will need to book stables en route for your horse. These stables will require a health certificates appropriate to horses only, and if they do not you probably don’t want to board your horse there. Your veterinarian should be aware of the applicable laws of the different states and will be able to provide you with the necessary health certificates. (Contact information regarding states entry requirements is at the end of this guide.)
If you are unable to find a stable or lodgings for your horse in close proximity to your hotel, inquire whether the hotel will allow you to keep the trailer in the parking lot overnight. In inclement weather this is not advisable. Feed and water your horse per the normal routine and clean out the stall when you have an overnight stop.
Most states have strict government regulations regarding the entry of reptiles. See the states regulatory contact list at the end of this guide to find out what you need to do before moving your reptile from state to state.
As a general rule, the carrier that a reptile is transported in needs to be kept moist. Place the reptile in a cloth bag and fasten the top of the bag, making sure to leave the reptile enough room to move about, then place the bag in the shipping container. Use foam peanuts for cushioning and place damp paper or cloth in the shipper to keep the environment moist. Make sure there are air holes in the shipper for ventilation. If you are traveling overnight with your reptile you may need to place him in the tub of your hotel room at night for a nice long soak. Check if the hotel allows pets first.
Do not ship reptiles in excessively hot or cold weather, as their shipping container may be left outside for periods of time, leading to stress and possibly death.
Snakes must be handled with extra care, especially if they are venomous. Most airlines require double crating for snakes, which means putting the snake in one crate and then placing this crate in another, larger crate. Adequate ventilation is a must. The airline may provide you with stickers to put on all sides of the crate and you will need to write the type of snake on this label. You should also write on the sticker whether the snake is venomous or not.
Remember to keep the surroundings of all reptiles moist, but not wet. Placing a damp cloth inside the container is one of the best ways to keep your reptile’s environment appropriately moist during transit.
Fish are notoriously difficult to move safely from one location to another, but it can be done effectively and efficiently with some planning. It is advisable to sell or give away as many fish as you can before you move to help ease the burden. However if this is not an option, this guide will help you understand what you need to do.
Depending on the size of your aquarium, and the number and type of fish you have, it may be easier to separate them into a several smaller tanks. If the aquarium is 5 gallons or less it may be just as easy to move the entire aquarium. Place some cellophane over the top of the aquarium and remove all heaters and aerators. Place the container in a cooler box or Styrofoam container to regulate the temperature and keep it constant for up to 48 hours. Be sure to open the cellophane every four to five hours to change and refresh the air. This option may be the best for tropical fish, which don’t do well in smaller containers with overcrowding or sudden changes in water and temperature.
Never leave the container in the car overnight, as the temperature changes may be too drastic for the fish. If you plan to be traveling to your destination for a couple of days with your fish it is advisable to purchase a portable aerator to keep the water well oxygenated. Always pack your aquarium last in the moving truck so that you can unload it quickly at your destination.
If you separate your fish into smaller containers or fish bags, you should try to use the aquarium water in order to keep the environment as constant as possible. In the event you do not have enough water for all the smaller containers, add fresh or saltwater appropriate to the type of fish. It is advisable to allow each container of water to settle for a few hours after filling. If you have only a small number of fish and are moving a short driving distance, you can move the fish to their new location by using plastic bags half-filled with water and half-filled with air. As a general guideline, each fish should have at least 1-2 gallons of water. To maintain the temperature, place the bags in an insulated container or Styrofoam container.
Most fish can go without food for a couple of days without any problems, but it is important to add healing agents to the water, as the fish may become bruised en route. This is not uncommon and you can purchase healing agents at your local pet supply store.
When you arrive at your destination set up the aquarium as quickly as possible. You may need to treat the water to neutralize any chemicals; your local pet store can advise you of any treatments the local water may need.
Turn the aerator on for a while, and then add slowly and gently add the fish to the tank one at a time. Wait until the water settles, and feed them as usual.
PLEASE, PLEASE be responsible when you move and check beforehand with your new community to find out if pets are allowed. Some apartment and condominium complexes may not allow pets, and you certainly don’t want to find that out on moving day.
Some of the most common reasons that people leave their pets with shelters are “we are moving “and “my landlord doesn’t allow pets.” Remember, pets do not know why their owners are leaving them behind, so do your homework beforehand to save all that heartbreak. Consider your options carefully, as pets should be considered a lifetime commitment. If you are absolutely unable to take your pet with you, you owe it to this creature to find him a good home.
State and local regulations
You need to make sure that your pet has some sort of easily read ID attached to its body. For dogs and cats this can be a collar, while a tag around the leg is appropriate for birds. The ID tag should have your pet’s name, destination address, your name and telephone number. It is also a good idea to have an alternate’s name and number on the tags in the event that somebody finds your lost pet and is unable to get in touch with you. You should also have rabies tags for your pet; depending on the state where you live this will most likely be a requirement. For air travel, your pet may be required to wear special travel tags, which the airline will provide.