When you decide to move don’t forget about your furry friends. They are an important part of your family you don’t want to leave behind. The ASPCA states approximately 6.5 million animals enter US animal shelters nationwide every year. The top two reasons for relinquishment of dogs and cats per a study by the National Council on Pet Population are 1) Moving and 2) Landlord not allowing a pet. With enough planning and foresight, an animal relocation is usually possible and well worth all that’s involved.
Just as change can be stressful for you, it can also be stressful for your pet. It’s best to incorporate some of the below recommendations into the planning phase of your move, meaning before you start packing any boxes.
Create a pet folder to keep all your pet’s information and carry this with you on your move.
- Gather all important documentation, shot records, license information, etc.
- Make sure all shot records are current and meet the requirements of your destination state. Each state has different requirements, for example, dogs and cats entering into Hawaii can be quarantined up to 120 days and have very strict entry regulations.
- Obtain a health certificate from your vet no more than ten days before you move.
- Obtain health records or confirm they can email them to your new vet to get settled faster. (Search online reviews of veterinarians in your new area. Also, ask your Realtor or Property Manager for vet referrals.)
- Take and keep a recent photo of your pet for identification purposes. It’s a hectic time and you want to be prepared for any situation and worst case, in the event your pet gets lost before, during or after your move.
Traveling With Your Pet
Whether you fly, drive or hire a professional pet mover, there are many things to coordinate prior to departure. Most airlines take pets. There are some that do not. Search requirements by the airline to determine which airline is best suited for your pet. With air travel be sure you consider the time of year you are moving because many airlines refuse to fly an animal if it’s too cold or too warm outside.
Traveling by car to move your pet is the most popular and least expensive method. When traveling by car pack don’t forget to pack their leashes, easy to use food/water bowls and their favorite toy and blanket. Make sure to put those items in an easy to access place in the car.
- If your pet hasn’t been in the car before, start getting them used to it by going on short rides around the block then add another destination at least a few weeks before your move. Make your trips longer each time and some pets will be excited to go for a ride and others will at least not be shocked on their upcoming road adventure. Contact your vet if you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s travel behavior.
- Pack (2) leashes in case one is lost or damaged.
- For trips that take multiple days, feed your pet only once a day.
- Take containers of water from your home on the trip. There is a chance that different water along the way can upset a stomach.
- Plan for extra stops for your pet to stretch their legs and relieve themselves. Many gas stations and rest stops have designated pet areas.
- Keep your power windows locked. Cats are notorious for opening windows and may jump out an open window at any given chance.
- Like you, your pet needs a comfortable temperature inside the vehicle to keep from motion sickness.
- Never leave your pet in the vehicle alone especially in overly cold or overly warm temperatures. This could be fatal to them because once the engine is off temperatures can spike or drop very quickly.
- Research and reserve pet-friendly hotels prior to hitting the road. Most travel sites have a “pet-friendly” filter for searching.
Helpful websites* for pet travel:
*Many of locations on the sites are list places as pet-friendly, it’s always best to call and confirm there hasn’t been a change in policy.
Your pet will be just as excited to be in their new home as you are but they will need time to get familiar with their new environment. The faster you begin a routine of feeding and exercise, the faster they will acclimate and settle into their new surroundings.
With cats, you may need to keep doors to various rooms closed until they get used to the home. As they get comfortable open the doors and let them expand and explore their new environment.
Be sure to contact your new veterinarian and schedule your first appointment. Get any shots or treatments recommended in your new region.
Finally, enjoy your new home with your faithful friends. They can help the transition and ease any feelings of missing your old home. In fact, they are also beneficial in helping you meet new people when out on a walk in the neighborhood, park or downtown. It may seem like a lot to do to move your pets but being organized and anticipating their needs will ensure a smoother relocation and is well worth it. It’s been said a house is not a home without a pet.