By Land or By Air: Tips on Moving with your Pet
Your pets always know when something is up. Whether you’re leaving for an overnight business trip, taking off for two weeks, or packing for a big move, your four-legged companions become anxious from the moment they hear the first zipper slide open on your travel bag.
Big moves, however, can be a lot more stressful for pets than a simple road trip. Not only are they experiencing the inevitable anxiety of change, they’re also dealing with a constantly changing environment where things that were familiar to them are being boxed up, thrown away and altered on a daily basis. Because of this, before you even bring home the first box or pack up your first bag, consider making some of following accommodations to ease this very anxious and nerve-wracking time.
Create a safe place
A safe place for your pet is an area that will change very little (if at all) during the moving process and should be introduced early on to your pet. About a week or two before you begin packing, slowly start to keep your pets in this safe place until they’re comfortable being there for several hours on end. It should not feel like a form of punishment for them. Rather, have several of their favorite toys on hand, their bed (be sure not to wash it as they’ll need their scent on it to feel secure), a piece or two of your own dirty/old clothing to provide them with your scent, plenty of fresh water, and their regular food.
Be sure to continue to exercise them regularly and congratulate them for staying quietly in their safe place every time you let them out. Additionally, safe places should be temperature controlled, well ventilated and have proper lighting. Examples include bathrooms, a spare room that’s already been cleared out, a spacious and empty closet, or even a neighbor’s house, if they don’t mind you dropping by and leaving your pet for extended periods of time.
Don’t pack up the safe place until the very last minute and be sure to use a lot of the items kept in the safe place on the road trip. For smaller dogs and cats, or for cars with plenty of space, bring the pet bed and/or the old clothes to give your pets a comforting and familiar scent. Some of the toys could also come along, though you don’t want to bring too many as they can quickly clutter up the car and get in the way.
Once you arrive at your new place, the safe place items should be the very first items you unpack. These should be immediately placed in a room as similar as possible to the one they were in before you moved. Continue to congratulate your pets and keep them on their normal exercise schedule as much as possible until your house is ready for them.
Preparing for the trip
The actual trip should also be planned out well in advance. The first thing to consider is whether you will be traveling by ground or by air. Airline travel can be a particularly anxious time for your pet and it can also be an incredible hassle for pet owners. If you plan to transport your pet by air, be sure to check on the following:
Will you be traveling nationally or internationally?
If traveling internationally, contact the consulate at your destination country and request the forms and list of tests required to bring your pet into the country. World embassy information and addresses can be found at http://www.state.gov and additional information about pet requirements can be found under “Foreign Entry Requirements.” While there, it would be a good idea to check on the requirements for bringing your pet back into the United States, should you choose to return at a later date. Don’t be surprised if your pet is required to be quarantined for rabies, which can last for up to six months.
Airline pet requirements
Many airlines require that you have evidence of a full physical and proof of up-to-date vaccines before boarding, and in some cases these are required to be done within a week or even a few days of boarding. Make sure you have reviewed all of the airline’s requirements well in advance of your travel date.
Is there room for your pet?
Some airlines only take a limited number of animals per flight, so be sure you are registered and approved for your pet’s travel well in advance.
Check before you medicate.
In most instances, pets do much better traveling if they don’t take any medication, as they most likely want to have all of their senses working at peak performance. If you have a particularly anxious pet, however, check with your vet before travel about possible sedatives.
If you’re traveling by land, make sure that your pet is secure during the ride either by using a pet carrier or pet safety belt at all times. Make you take frequent stops to allow for exercise and if you will be staying at hotels, call ahead of time to ensure that they are not only pet-friendly, but have rooms available. If possible, ask them for a list of their pet policies in advance. Some hotels try to sneak in extra charges for miscellaneous items and its best to avoid these if at all possible.
You should also have a pet travel kit on hand with several if not all of the following items:
- Enough food for the trip plus an extra few days’ worth in case of an emergency. Be sure to use their regular food as new food might cause indigestion or even nausea and diarrhea — not fun on long car trips.
- A gallon of water per day/per pet. You could also freeze a few bowls of water in plastic bowls so they can enjoy it while traveling with little spillage.
- All of your pet’s records from your veterinarian for your new vet and in case they’re needed on the trip.
- An updated dog tag with your new address and contact information.
- Ask your vet to make sure your microchip is updated with your new address and contact information, and if your pet isn’t micro-chipped, be sure to get one.
- A recent picture of your pet in case he/she goes missing.
- Any sedatives if recommended by your veterinarian.
Even if you take the time to prepare for your move with your pet, there’s always the chance of unforeseen complications. The best thing you can do is to try and get as much done and out of the way as possible beforehand and try to make the move as easy as possible on both you and your furry companions.
What are some unforeseen complications you’ve experienced while moving with your pet? What would you recommend to pet owners who are planning on long travel times with their pets?
Kenneth McCall is a managing partner for storage.com, which provides the online systems to help customers find the best self-storage units for their needs. Through Kenneth’s and his team’s work, customers can find Euless storage units and self-storage in other southern cities and towns. In his spare time, Kenneth likes to hike, ski and participate in other outdoor activities.